positioning differentiation own a corner of the room

Positioning helps customers understand who you are, how you are different, and why they should care.

To evaluate how well your positioning accomplishes these objectives, it helps to imagine your category to be a trade show. When a new buyer enters the category and begins researching your market space to solve their urgent problem, we can imagine that they have walked onto the vendor floor.

Where is your booth? Do your target buyers quickly recognize your offering as a great alternative for solving the symptoms of their problem?

At real-world trade shows, incumbent vendors often huddle together in the middle of the room with “Me Too!” positioning and messaging. And the buyer, new to the category, is easily confused.

The result is:

  • Buyers take much longer than necessary to evaluate alternatives
  • Best value often loses to better selling
  • Most common winners are biggest brand (flight to safety) or No Decision

So by all means, get out of the middle of the “Me Too” center of the room.

Taking innovation to market requires rapidly converting uninformed buyers into customers. By definition, innovation means breakthroughs for which most buyers lack experience or detailed understanding – hence they are uninformed.

Savvy innovators break away from competition by informing prospects how to distinguish the real solutions to their problem from the pretenders. Breakaway positioning places your company into a private, specialist’s corner of the room. And arms your sales reps with the conversations that help reps:

  • Distinguish which problems the prospect is trying to solve
  • Qualify and invest in those prospects suffering the problem we solve best
  • Identify shoppers who are curious but won’t buy this year

And help buyers:

  • recognize the symptoms of the problem your offering uniquely solves
  • de-position the alternatives as limited or inferior to your optimal solution
  • justify premiums for the solutions that will give the largest and fastest ROI

So, what are the symptoms of Me Too positioning that suggest you do not own a corner of the room?

  • Prospects don’t “Get it”. You are often compared with solutions built for a different purpose
  • Loss reports reveal buyers did incomplete or naïve evaluations
  • Your channel is not selling the full value. Excessive discount from full value capture
  • Buyers most often begin with small purchase and limited commitment to stay safe

Great positioning has to resonate with the market of buyers who will purchase in the next 12-14 months from a company like yours. Markets, like trade shows, are a land grab. Consciously choose your corner of the market. Make it yours and defend its importance.

De-position or push alternatives away from your corner by identifying how they are “limited” Rather than claiming a competitor’s product is bad, it is better to help buyers see how they were built at a different time for a different purpose. Push competitors into the middle of the room or less interesting corners. Your target buyers will engage faster and more deeply. Do not hesitate to push away potential buyers that do not fit. Most will be there next year or whenever your offering is a better fit. Plus those companies simply “shopping” and not buying will move away to waste precious time and resources of your competitors.

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