People talk about branding a lot. And they should. A strong brand gives you enormous advantages. But before you can have a brand, you have to find your unique position in the market — a niche that belongs to you and no one else. And very few companies own a position, for at least three reasons.
Identifying the place only you can occupy is time-consuming. It can’t be done over a staff lunch. Here’s why. Each time you have a position you think will work, it has to pass this test: is it something that only your company can claim, at least in the markets you serve?
And it has to be specific. Your position can’t be, “We offer the highest quality product backed by the best service available.” That’s a generic claim that almost anyone else in your space would make. That level of specificity takes time to find.
Companies are extremely reluctant to set aside time for positioning, because there isn’t an immediate payoff, and because it’s so intangible. But the long-term payoff is huge, and the benefit to the bottom line is as tangible as it gets.
Staking out a position requires an investment. There’s no way around it. You have to let prospects know what your position is and why it matters. When someone is looking for exactly what you do, you have to make sure they think you’re the first choice provider. And that isn’t cheap.
It starts with your website. It should shout your position, not just in a tagline or home page copy, but in case studies, in testimonials, in demonstration videos — from every corner of your site. The SEO on your site should focus on your position with laser intensity.
And it goes beyond your site, to business cards and sales literature, training processes and promotional materials. The only way to leverage a position is to invest in it.
This is the biggest challenge of all. Most companies want to be all things to all people. But owning a true position in the marketplace means giving all that up. You have to focus relentlessly on your niche — to the exclusion of all the other things you could do.
That sounds like leaving a lot of money on the table. In fact, the opposite is true. It’s focusing on your most high-value, high profit margin prospects. That’s a more profitable business model. And it’s more sustainable, because it allows you to devote more resources to customer service, which reduces customer turnover and boosts profitability.
The First Step
With 2018 looming, start building a real, durable brand today by deciding what your position will be. Then make a commitment to devote the time, the talent, the resources and the sacrifice required to make it happen.
(Need a hand? Idealogy has developed a step-by-step process for helping companies of all sizes determine their position in the marketplace and then build a brand around it. Let us know if we can help!)