In an increasingly crowded and competitive business landscape, carving out a distinctive space for your business can feel overwhelming. Some don’t know where to start and others struggle with staying connected with the audiences they’ve selected.
As a solopreneur, side hustler, early-stage startup, or minority business owner, you may find yourself battling to attract and retain customers, differentiate your offerings, and navigate the rapidly shifting market dynamics. Things are constantly evolving and shifting because consumers are constantly evolving. Staying in tune with your audience and positioning your business is essential to continued growth and longevity.
If you recognize any of these struggles, you’re in the right place.
This guide focuses on the power of strategically positioning your business as the best option. It will help you clarify who your best-fit customer is and is not, to boost your ability to overcome these hurdles, and set your business on a trajectory of sustainable growth and success.
Understanding Strategic Brand Positioning
At its core, business positioning is about defining and communicating your unique value proposition — it’s another way of saying what makes your business stand out from the crowd and why customers should choose you over your competition. This can be done through the power of storytelling, and resonating with customers’ needs, motivations, and pain points.
Your brand’s position in the market serves as an announcement to the world, signaling who you are, what you offer, and why you matter to your target audience. Done well it will share everything from the quality of your products or services to why you started your business in the first place. The goal is to identify and share the things that serve the best interest of your audience and separate you from your competition.
How and When to Use Positioning
Now that I’ve covered the ‘what’ let’s look at how to use it and when. Positioning is the step and logic that creates brand messaging and is at the root of most successful marketing strategies. Think of positioning as the guide that tells you where to stand and when so that you can create the right time, right place scenario with your customer.
How to use it will depend on a variety of factors but there are some universal principles. Positioning is designed to encourage audience engagement and a bond.
Here are 4 things that if you can wrap your head around you can become pretty efficient with positioning and by extension establishing your brand and winning customers from your competitors or in general:
- Positioning is the art of framing things that answer the follow-up questions people may have about your business.
- People need context and explanations that are appealing and serve their best interests.
- People need something to compare things to as a frame of reference.
- The best positioning is something that can be repeated back to someone else without a drop-off in context or value.
Let’s unpack each of The 4 Essentials of Basic Positioning for Effective Brand Messaging and Marketing.
- You can put minds at ease and show your expertise by sharing answers to frequently asked questions of your target audience. When considering perception already having an answer to questions that come to mind says we’ve been here before and have prepared for this you’re in good hands. This is an opportunity to position yourself and your business as experts in the area of interest of your audience.
- Simply put you need to explain things in a way that the person understands what’s in it for them. Ex: People respond to perspectives that align with their principles, beliefs, and experiences. Without it, it requires a desire to leave their comfort zone for something new. If you can’t explain in a meaningful way why they should make a change they won’t. If I’m being honest you may not get as far as getting a chance to explain why they should care.
- The validity of your point becomes irrelevant without a frame of reference. In business you could have a great product or service but if the audience doesn’t understand it that makes it hard to wrap their head around. That leads to doubt and increases the perception of risks. Something you want to alleviate not encourage.
- Well-crafted positioning is repeatable without losing its value or ease of understanding. By value I mean the perception of what the audience would be willing to change in their lives to benefit from the product or service. Things of value get prioritized over the status quo and indecision. The ability to relay the brand messaging second and third-hand and have it still resonate is a sign of well-crafted positioning.
Now let’s take a look at when to apply positioning in your business. Let’s keep it high level to start. Two different journeys are taking place in business. The business journey which is your journey from the idea stage on through the existence and in some cases sale of your business. The other is the customer journey. The experience that your customers have from realizing that they have a want or need for change to finding and gaining enough experience to have an opinion on the business and its offerings.
My recommendation is to use this as the starting point for addressing positioning in your marketing strategies. By separating the two you’re not confusing who’s interest you’re trying to serve and why. The audience should take priority because without the customers there can’t be any business longevity.
The Dual Journeys: Customers and Business
The creation of an impactful brand positioning strategy requires a deep understanding of two key journeys: the customer’s and your own business. By knowing your customer’s needs and desires, you can create narratives that truly resonate, establishing a deep and lasting connection.
Simultaneously, having a clear roadmap of your business journey — your goals, milestones, and growth strategies — allows you to ensure that your brand positioning aligns with your business trajectory and amplifies your unique strengths. You started your business for a reason that should be taken into consideration in your positioning and not just your business model.
Positioning your business strategically throughout the customer journey is where you can win and lose audiences. Understanding the different stages of the customer journey allows a business to leverage different aspects of its positioning when it matters most to the audience. For example: Someone just learning about how to cook a dish is going to care more about the recipe ingredients at the start. There’s less interest in what temperature to have the oven at yet.
When you’re able to map out your customer’s journey it provides you several opportunities to position yourself and your business as the best option for your target audience. You can learn more about the power of the customer journey and why it matters by clicking on this link Learn how to make the Customer Journey work for you.
Navigating Challenges with Strategic Positioning
Strategic positioning isn’t just about setting your business apart. It also helps navigate common challenges faced by small businesses and solopreneurs.
- Establishing Credibility: Through a compelling brand story, you demonstrate your expertise and knowledge, proving to your audience that you’re not just another player in the market, but a trustworthy partner they can rely on.
- Standing Out in a Crowded Market: Strategic brand positioning emphasizes your unique selling proposition (USP), helping you cut through the noise and get noticed by the right audience.
- Communicating Value: A well-crafted brand positioning strategy makes it easier to communicate your value, justify your pricing, and confidently showcase your business’s worth.
- Adapting to Change: A strong brand positioning provides the flexibility to adapt and evolve your narrative when market dynamics shift.
This is where providing context on why you started your business can be a selling point for audiences. As long as they understand and value the reasoning.
Let’s look at a real-world example with these principles applied:
Maya Penn: A Positioning Masterclass with Maya’s Ideas
In today’s saturated market, a poignant example of positioning done right is Maya Penn, the founder of Maya’s Ideas. Her journey not only underscores the importance of strategic positioning but also highlights how it can be seamlessly integrated using the 4 Essentials and 5 foundational elements.
- Framing to Answer Questions: Business Journey
At just 8 years old, Maya embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, crafting eco-friendly clothing and accessories from her bedroom. Her brand’s inception wasn’t merely a business strategy; it was driven by her genuine passion for sustainability. This authentic narrative answered a crucial question: Why choose Maya’s Ideas? Because it emanated from a genuine commitment to eco-friendliness and sustainable design.
- Providing Context: Target Audience
Targeting a niche audience passionate about eco-friendly products, Maya’s Ideas wasn’t just about selling products; it was about sharing a vision for sustainable fashion. Every hand-made item carried a story, a narrative that resonated deeply with her audience, providing the context behind each product’s creation and its role in promoting sustainability.
- Offering a Frame of Reference: Business Model
In an era of fast fashion, Maya’s Ideas embraced the antithesis: slow fashion. This approach ensured each item was not only unique but also sustainable. This clear distinction gave customers a comparative framework. Instead of generic, mass-produced items, they were investing in artful, eco-conscious designs, clearly setting Maya’s Ideas apart in the marketplace.
- Repetition without Loss of Value: Buyer’s Journey & Marketing Strategies
More than just a brand, Maya’s Ideas represented a sustainable fashion movement. Maya magnified her brand’s voice through various platforms, including her blog, speaking engagements, and notably, a TED Talk. By consistently sharing her brand narrative and the ethos behind Maya’s Ideas, she ensured that her positioning was not only clear but also easily shareable, allowing customers and admirers to recount the brand’s story without losing its essence.
Maya’s journey from a young, budding entrepreneur to an eco-fashion mogul exemplifies the transformative power of strategic positioning. By intertwining her business journey, understanding her target audience, and aligning with her unique business model, Maya’s Ideas shines as a beacon for businesses striving to carve out their niche. It serves as an inspiring testament to how clear, strategic positioning can elevate a brand from its inception to monumental success.
Shape Your Future with Strategic Positioning
Your business positioning today determines your business’s trajectory tomorrow. It’s a long-term strategy that shapes how your audience perceives you, directly influencing your growth, customer loyalty, and overall success.
Remember, the essence of strategic positioning isn’t about chasing after every customer. It’s about being the best choice for the customers who will appreciate and value what your business uniquely offers. Not all money is good money and not all customers will help with the growth and longevity of your business.
As a Brand Positioning Expert, I’m committed to partnering with you on this exciting journey. Together, we can navigate the intricate landscape of market positioning, ensuring your brand is perceived as valuable, credible, and distinct. Your business deserves a story that is as unique and compelling as the products or services you offer. Let’s start telling that story today.
Extra: Be sure to download our Guide to Building a Positioning Strategy which helps you create a powerful positioning strategy for your business.