Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network
Position is your identity in the marketplace: how you want the market and your competitors to perceive your product or service. While your USP is based on features of your product or service, your positioning is based on your customers and competition. Federal Express positioned itself as a reliable and dependable overnight delivery service for businesses. MTV and VH1 play many of the same music videos, but MTV is positioned as the choice for young, hip viewers, while VH1 is considered the station for more mature viewers.
If you run a dry cleaning business you can be the fastest, the most dependable, the cheapest, or the business providing the best service. A mail-order gift business can emphasize price, convenience, a flexible returns policy, unique products, or some combination of these. A hairdresser may be positioned as hip, traditional, pampering, inexpensive, or convenient. You may think that positioning is based on image. Develop your position by answering the following questions with brief, direct statements:
- What is unique about your product or service?
- What customer needs does your product fulfill?
- How do you want people to view your products or services?
- How do your competitors position themselves?
- Research your competitors by shopping their stores or calling them to see what they offer and what they charge for it.
- To create a list of your competitors strengths and weaknesses, look at areas such as distribution, pricing, value, service, timeliness. If you were undertaking market research, for example, you would look at depth of research price, frequency of survey, add-on services, and reputation in the marketplace. A dry cleaner would look at pricing, location, services such as delivery, hours of operation, quality of their cleaning, whether or not they are computerized and if they provide services such as tailoring and mending.
- If appropriate, research your competitors in trade magazines to unearth their strengths and weaknesses.
- In order to position yourself in the market you will need to understand standard industry practices, such as pricing, billing, distribution. This information is usually available from trade organizations. Call the reference librarian or visit the reference section of your library to find the appropriate association in a book called the Gale Encyclopedia of Business and Professional Associations.
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