Shirlaws UK: Can you name the world’s highest mountain?

Positioning is a business exercise which should be done before any marketing takes place.  It impacts the entire business model to include how the business and management operate.  In markets where there is a lot of choice for the consumer, a Positioning strategy will put your product in the mind of the consumer before someone else’s.  Positioning makes you stand out from the crowd.

Once you are clear about your positioning you can take your marketing to a strategic level, which will add equity value to your business. 

Positioning is imperative in today’s crowded marketplace, a priority that has developed through consumer history of the past half century

In the 1950s and 1960s most new products were bought based on originality of the product – building or distributing the only television or lawnmower mean consumers needed only to decide whether to buy the product, not who to purchase it from.

Market forces naturally meant competition would be introduced in the produce space, competition that meant by the 1970s and 1980s products needed to have an image attached to stand out.  People bought the image, whether it was created (the Marlborough Man) or attached to celebrity (Air Jordans).

Marketing was, and in some aspects remains, a hugely successful strategy for finding new business, but it has become increasingly clear that the marketing message is cluttered – there is simply too much advertising competing for space in our mind.

When the average consumer is exposed to thousands of ads every day, they seek to make a purchasing decision from a different context: Simplicity.

A business reputation is no longer based solely on producing new or more innovating products.  Nor down image or personality marketing make an impact.  Positioning – where what we do is as important as what we say – it the only way to cut through the noise and be remembered by those clients wanting to make the simple purchasing decisions.

The World’s Highest Mountain

Here’s an example to demonstrate why Positioning works.

Can you name the highest mountain in the world? Everest – an answer most people will remember.

So what’s the second highest mountain?  K2 – not as memorable (though the number 2 helps!).  Third highest mountain?  Kangchenjunga.  Fourth?  Lhotse.  Most people don’t remember past the first one or two.

So what’s the longest river in the world?  The Nile.  What about the second longest river?  The Amazon.  Number three? Number three is the Yangtz, and unless this is of specific interest or has been recently been relevant in your life then you, like almost everybody else, will have difficulty remembering number four.  It’s the mighty Mississippi.

How about a question closer to home: Who is the leading business in your industry and your market?  Number two?  Number three?  If you had to think, imagine what clients unfamiliar with your industry have to experience.

You may have heard that ninety-five percent of people doing a Google search will only look at the top ten options; when they search their own mind, they rarely go past number three.

That’s a point worth repeating: your clients are unlikely to remember more than the first three accounting firms, take-away restaurants, or whichever industry you happen to be in.  And when they want to make a simple purchasing decision, they don’t explore beyond those three.

Positioning is about making your message so simple that in your target market you are remembered as one of those three.  Only then will you have the opportunity to compete.

That is the opportunity you have before you.