Wise Counsel

Creating Actionable Market Positioning

Actionable market positioning – a description of a company, candidate or institution that creates a preference for their goods, services or ideas – is the mandatory basis for a successful public relations and marketing program.

Done well, it has influence in a host of activities, ranging from naming to recruiting to fundraising.  As a result, it is the best, first step to take in creating a communications program.  It begins by answering five questions:

Who are you?

In an era of ubiquitous and persistent social media, a public image cannot be managed, it must be consistently revealed.  Answering the question helps frames what can become an effective marketing plan.  As many parents have counseled their children, if you tell the truth, you never have to remember the lies you’ve told.

What Problem do you solve?

The problems companies solve range from the small (a back scratcher for the hard to reach itch) to the enormous (privatizing space flight).  Some address daily lives (tighter lids for leftover food containers) or life and death (airplane design). 

Every successful venture is clear in identifying the problem it solves; the bigger, the better.

Who are your competitors?

Despite the commonly expressed sentiment, “We have no competitors,” it is a competitive set that helps the market know how to think of a company and define its offer.

Identifying a competitive set also offers insight to effective messaging.  The choice may be to align with dominant messaging, counter it or confront it.

What does the market expect?

Consider the ways in which the market currently engages for these products, services or ideas.  How does your offer meet or exceed these expectations?  Customers and consumers are drawn to what is new, but not often to the unfamiliar.

Who says so?

Any claim made benefits from third-party endorsement.  

If you are a psychiatrist, it could be the university which granted the degree or JAMA which published your article.  If you are a plumber, it could be the state which gave you a license or the nod of a satisfied customer.  Each claim is strengthened by such a proof point.

With the answers to these five questions in hand, the ability to position a company, candidate or initiative comes more clearly into view.