John Deitz
Optimal Enterprise
Great Positioning Seeds Market Strategies
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The term "strategy" has become so overused and misused that it is easy to lose track of what it means. This is a problem; strategies should never be fuzzy because business decisions, tactical marketing initiatives and image ideology are (or should be) based on core strategies every day.

So before we get to positioning, let's review the origins of strategy. First, let's agree that strategy focuses on how a company competes in the marketplace. It has nothing to do with how your company operates internally; the playground for strategy is external, in the minds of the marketplace.

Second, strategy needs some framework - some boundaries - to be effective. This subtle aspect is very important. Traditionally, marketers have created these boundaries by segmenting products into categories. A product category forms an envelope within which a product competes and is compared with similar products. An important point here: if the marketer's segmentation doesn't match the segmentation in the mind of the consumer, marketing falls on its face.

Now we get to positioning. Positioning is the art of competing (with competitors) for the mind share of prospects (customers) within the boundaries of a product category. A vivid depiction of this struggle is a "lover's triangle". In our triangle, the consumer is the key decision maker, choosing between your product/company and the competition's.

So where does positioning take place? That's right, in the mind of the consumer. Classic sales theory teaches us that customers don't buy products; instead they buy the perception of what having those products will mean. That said, marketing strategy a battle of perception, not reality.

Here's what you should take away. Positioning is the result of how consumers categorize and rank your products/company in relation to your competitors. So the essence of strategy is to give the customer a good reason to choose your offering over the competition. That's the only real positioning that matters.

Interestingly, a great many corporate mission statements are not "strategic"; they fail to differentiate the company as better, special or more compelling than its competition.

So know your target customer well, and understand the essence of strategy; then you'll have the power and insight to position your company and products effectively.

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