In business, positioning plays a crucial role in setting a company apart from its competitors. To master positioning, it is essential to understand the business journey—a dynamic process that encompasses the stages, experiences, and goals a business goes through. The business journey serves as a guiding framework for positioning and provides valuable insights into how a business can differentiate itself and create a brand and marketing strategy that leads to success.
Throughout the business journey, several fundamental elements play a significant role in shaping a business’s positioning. These elements include the target audience, business model, buyer’s journey, and marketing basics. Each offers valuable insights that answer essential questions about the business, its unique value proposition, and how it can effectively resonate with its target market.
The business journey covers:
- The early stage of figuring things out.
- The growth stage of expanding reach.
- The scaling stage of branching out into new markets.
By identifying the stage of their business journey, entrepreneurs can tailor goals and tactics to align with their specific strategy, circumstances, resources, and timelines. Understanding the business journey skips a one-size-fits-all approach and uses customized strategies that match their stage of growth.
In terms of positioning:
- The brand/business journey sheds light on the reasons for starting the business and provides context for differentiation.
- The target audience helps identify the specific customers who align with the business’s values and offerings.
- The business model determines the structure and approach to delivering value.
- The buyer’s journey outlines the stages customers go through in making purchasing decisions.
- Marketing basics provide the foundation for reaching and engaging with the target audience effectively.
Many businesses struggle with understanding the importance of positioning and where to start. They overlook key differentiators or fail to consider the impact of the audience’s preference for the status quo. However, by gaining a deep understanding of their business journey, entrepreneurs can address these challenges head-on, develop positioning strategies that align with their stage of growth, leverage their unique value propositions, and overcome misconceptions.
In the following sections, we will delve deeper into how businesses can utilize the concept of the business journey to refine their positioning and unlock the path to success and create a distinct position in the marketplace.
The Business Journey and Positioning
The business journey refers to the progression from the inception of an idea to the ultimate goals of the business. By evaluating their specific stage, businesses can tailor their strategies to address the challenges and opportunities unique to that stage.
For example, a new or early-stage business is focused on establishing itself and gaining traction in the market. Its positioning strategies will emphasize differentiation, capture attention, and build brand awareness. In contrast, a more established business with a larger client base may focus on deepening customer relationships, refining its unique value proposition, and expanding its market share.
The five fundamental elements play integral roles in determining a business’s positioning throughout the journey.
By leveraging these fundamental elements, businesses can create a strong and differentiated position in the market. For instance, understanding their brand/business journey helps businesses identify their unique story and values, allowing them to stand out from competitors. By thoroughly understanding their target audience, businesses can tailor their messaging, tone, and communication channels to effectively engage and resonate with their ideal customers. Moreover, aligning the business model with the target audience’s needs and preferences ensures the delivery of value in a compelling manner.
Evaluating the stages of the business journey allows businesses to align their positioning with specific customer challenges, goals, and expectations. By doing so, businesses can develop messaging that highlights their strengths and differentiators and ultimately, attract the right audience and build a solid market position.
Developing a Strong Unique Selling Proposition (USP) through the Business Journey
April Dunford describes the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) as defining how a business stands out in the market by providing a compelling answer to key questions that customers ask:
- What is this thing?
- How is it different from other things?
- Should I pay attention to this or not?
- What’s it good for?
By weaving elements of the business journey into their USP, businesses can create a compelling value proposition that resonates with their target audience.
For example, OneUnited Bank positions itself as a pioneering financial institution dedicated to economic growth and financial inclusion in underserved urban communities. By leveraging its unique experiences and values, the bank not only establishes itself as a pioneer but also speaks directly to its audience’s concerns, positioning itself as the best-fit solution.
Similarly, Grace Foods, a premier food and beverage company specializing in Caribbean products, leverages its business journey to bring the essence of the Caribbean to dining tables worldwide. By emphasizing its diverse range of offerings and tantalizing flavors, Grace Foods positions itself as a go-to provider, catering to consumers seeking an authentic Caribbean culinary experience.
To uncover their unique value proposition and differentiate themselves from competitors, businesses can employ storytelling. By sharing stories and anecdotes related to their journey, businesses can connect with their audience on a deeper level and showcase their understanding of customer needs and desires in a relatable manner.
Leveraging the Business Journey for Customer Acquisition and Revenue Generation
Businesses with longer histories and established customer relationships can leverage their understanding of the business journey to drive customer acquisition through brand champions and referrals. By nurturing existing client relationships, businesses can tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing, generating revenue without substantial marketing costs. This strategy applies to businesses at any stage, whether they have 50 or 5,000 customers.
Practical examples showcase how businesses align their strategies with their stage in the business journey to drive customer acquisition and revenue generation.
For instance, Goodr positions itself as a leading tech-enabled sustainable food waste management company. By leveraging technology, they offer a seamless solution to reduce food waste and combat hunger. Goodr bridges the gap between businesses with surplus food and local charities, revolutionizing food waste management while addressing the critical issue of hunger. This positioning not only drives customer acquisition but also attracts revenue opportunities and positive press through partnerships and sustainability-conscious consumers.
Another example is Ujamaa Box. They are a subscription service that supports Black-owned businesses by delivering a variety of their products to subscribers every month. The beauty of Ujamaa Box is not just about the products they deliver but how they use their business journey to succeed. They have been through the growing pains of starting a business, learned their lessons, and applied these experiences to help other Black-owned businesses avoid the same struggles.
Ujamaa Box knows how hard it can be to reach and win over customers. They’ve been there. So, they use their established subscriber base to help other businesses reach a larger audience. They charge a fee for this, but businesses are more than happy to pay because it helps them sell their products to people they might otherwise struggle to connect with.
By doing this, Ujamaa Box not only delivers on its promise to its subscribers and businesses but also establishes itself as a trusted partner in their niche. Their success is a testament to how using their business journey to learn and grow has helped them in customer acquisition and revenue generation.
Setting realistic goals, budgets, and timelines based on the business journey is crucial. Understanding the business journey allows businesses to set achievable targets and allocate resources effectively. Early-stage businesses may experience larger growth numbers in percentage terms, whereas more established businesses focus on maintaining steady growth.
By nurturing existing client relationships, businesses can generate new customers and revenue without significant acquisition costs. Offering discounts, free items, or personalized attention can increase customer loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth referrals.
Applying April Dunford’s Components of Positioning to the Business Journey
April Dunford’s components of positioning (competitive alternatives, differentiated capabilities, value, best-fit customers, market category) play a crucial role in the business journey. Each component contributes to the overall understanding of the business journey and its impact on positioning strategies.
The competitive alternatives component highlights the importance of understanding the existing alternatives in the market. By evaluating competitors, businesses can identify gaps, opportunities, and unique selling points that set them apart.
Differentiated capabilities are key factors that distinguish a business from its competitors. By understanding their own unique strengths, expertise, and innovations developed during the business journey, businesses can effectively position themselves as superior options.
The value component focuses on what value the business offers to its customers. By aligning their products, services, or solutions with the specific needs, desires, and pain points of their target audience, businesses can create a compelling value proposition based on the experiences, lessons learned, and customer feedback gained over time.
Best-fit customers refer to the specific audience segments that are the most ideal and receptive to the business’s offerings. By understanding their target audience and their preferences, businesses can tailor their positioning to effectively resonate with and engage these customers.
The market category component refers to the market or industry in which a business operates. It helps establish context and enables customers to understand what the business is all about. By positioning themselves within a specific market category, businesses can communicate their specialization, expertise, and unique value to their target audience.
As you can see, segmentation plays a crucial role in refining positioning throughout the business journey. By identifying specific target segments, businesses can tailor their messaging, marketing strategies, and offerings to effectively reach and engage those segments.
Practical Steps to Mastering the Business Journey and Improving Positioning
Mastering the business journey and refining positioning requires a systematic approach and a deep understanding of the market dynamics. By following practical steps and guidelines, businesses can navigate each stage of their journey while enhancing their positioning strategies.
Here are key considerations to keep in mind:
Document Your Business Journey: By documenting the highs and lows of your business journey, you can track the evolution of your positioning over time. This helps identify when your current positioning is becoming less relevant and signals the need for a change.
Be Mindful of Your Stage: Effective navigation of each stage requires realistic expectations and a focus on gradual growth. Rushing to accelerate growth without solidifying customer support and processes can lead to detrimental consequences. Take the time to refine your operations before expanding.
Identify Unique Value Propositions: Documenting the reasons for starting your business and identifying your unique value propositions is crucial. These factors contribute to who you are as a business and resonate with your target audience. Emphasizing your differentiation when comparisons with competitors fall short can help sway customers based on emotional connections.
Fine-Tune Your Messaging: The details captured during your business journey enable you to fine-tune your messaging to specific audiences. People want to feel good about supporting a business, and strong positioning that elicits the right emotions can be the differentiating factor that leads to a sale.
Avoid Common Pitfalls: Don’t overlook the importance of connecting with the audience rather than simply selling to them. Emotional connection plays a significant role in decision-making, and businesses should strive to create a connection that goes beyond the product or service being offered.
Set Goals with Milestones: To ensure adequate attention to positioning and alignment with the business journey, set goals with measurable milestones. These milestones provide a framework for tracking progress and making necessary adjustments to your positioning strategy along the way.
Recommended Tools, Resources, and Frameworks
As businesses navigate their unique business journey and work on improving their positioning, it’s crucial to have access to valuable tools and resources. My resource library offers a wealth of information and practical guidance for businesses at different stages of their journeys—eBooks, checklists, and worksheets that contribute to businesses’ understanding of the market, target audience, and effective positioning strategies.
These practical tools and frameworks help them evaluate their current positioning and make informed decisions to improve:
- Their understanding of the market
- Their target audience segments
- Their brand
- Their business model
- Their buyer’s journey
- Their marketing strategies
Businesses can also leverage the five fundamental elements—brand/business journey, target audience, business model, buyer’s journey, and marketing strategy basics—as a framework to evaluate and enhance their positioning.
By carefully examining each element, businesses can gain clarity on their brand identity, define their ideal target audience, refine their business model to align with their goals, understand the customer journey and touchpoints, and develop effective marketing strategies tailored to their unique positioning.
Apply the insights and strategies shared in this article to your own business. By understanding the business journey, identifying its key differentiators, and refining its positioning strategies, businesses can establish a strong market presence, effectively attract customers, and drive revenue growth.
Remember to take advantage of the “Success Stories from Minority-Owned Businesses” eBook, available as a content upgrade to this article, or book a free consultation to further explore and optimize your positioning efforts.