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Is Your Positioning Competitive?

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Positioning describes what your product does—while also describing how it is different than anything else on the market. To be effective, product leaders must profile each competitive offering for company and product positioning.

For many, “positioning” has become a confusing buzzword but it’s a critical piece of your product definition and its promotion. Positioning is the unique selling proposition for your product, creating a space in the buyer’s mind.

David Ogilvy, known as the father of advertising, noted that while there was no real consensus as to the meaning of positioning among marketing experts, his definition is "what a product does, and who it is for."

In Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, authors Al Reis and Jack Trout expanded the definition to include a unique space in the buyer’s mind. That is, two products cannot own the same value proposition. For example, one toothpaste is positioned around fresh breath while another focuses its claims on fighting cavities. Since all toothpastes address both, the positioning exercise is really about delivering a unique message to buyers.

In the mobile phone market, Apple claims, “iPhone, the world's most powerful personal device” while Google says, “Pixel 2 brings the power of Google Assistant to your fingertips” and “The phone only Google could make.” Both vendors claim to have the best camera in a smart phone. So why would you choose one over the other based on their messaging?

Let’s try another.

“Amazon Web Services offers reliable, scalable, and inexpensive cloud computing services. Free to join, pay only for what you use.” Alternatively, “DigitalOcean is a simple and robust cloud computing platform, designed for developers.”

Hmmm, still not clear differentiation in my opinion.

Shoot. It’s hard to find a good example. I suppose large companies must use their promotional spend to get you committed to a platform rather than specific products.

Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, says, “Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable.”

For products and vendors with limited promotional dollars, we need to find another way. Clear, differentiated positioning and messaging may be the key.

Competitive positioning is a key skill for your product team's playbook. Need help? Check out Under10's unique approach for workshops
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