We were recently asked by an enterprising young couple to assist them develop a Marketing Plan for a product they had developed. Operating in the huge sports industry, they had improved on the design of an important functional accessory, plus made it look really cool. Having already achieved a limited level of success, they felt confident that the product’s true potential would be realised with a proper marketing campaign.

We first had to establish what the Brand’s positioning was. With so many established Brands in their industry already offering useful if not entirely practical alternatives, how might the product differentiate itself in consumer’s minds? If they were to follow traditional distribution outlets, what raison d’être will convince retailers to stock the product?

Positioning is about standing out, offering and (hopefully) becoming the product of choice in the minds of prospective customers. While imperative at launch, marketers are well advised to regularly review their Brand’s positioning in an ever changing market environment, or become irrelevant.

The three most common positioning strategies are:

  • Being first: Exceedingly valuable if executed right, as in the case of Coke. However, can be easily lost if the Brand does not move with the times, like Sony lost out to Apple iPod in the MP3 space.
  • Being the best: Many claim this but few successfully achieve this position. The key appears to be reinforcing what customers believe or experience. In the case of Oral-B, the message ‘the toothbrush dentist use’ was reinforced every time customers went to the dentist.
  • Repositioning the competition: Overturning or improving an established idea has worked well of Apple’s iPod (see above) and more recently its iPhone which made phones ‘smart,’ overtaking both Nokia and BlackBerry.

There are many other strategies to position a Brand; including using gender, packaging, pricing, service, distribution, fashion, etc. However, it is first important to be clear about what the Brand has or owns. They are the only tangible things you can build upon.

For the young couple in question we realised the single biggest attribute their business had was that influential people in the sport preferred their product. ‘Preferred by experts’ is a clear position and one a Marketing campaign can be built on. That the product also looks cool is a huge bonus.

Every Brand requires a regular health check to ensure its ongoing relevance and the appropriateness of its marketing strategy. Give us a call to see how we can assist you.

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Ted Doraisamy