If there is a valid reason to change your position, this is the best time to do it while there is a lull in the action. Your target audience is thinking about vacation, not buying software. You’re probably juggling less balls in the air and have a little time to think about positioning.
But I only advocate changing your position when the evidence says you need to. I believe you should stick to good position for as long as possible. Ideally at least 18 months and many years beyond that. Salesforce is one of the best examples of using a position – “success” – for an extended period-of-time (10 years starting in the mid-90s).
Is it time to change your position?
This blog provides guidance about whether to change or stick with your position – that mental space in your target audience’s mind that you can own with an idea that has compelling meaning to the recipient. It’s in this mental space where your solution to the target audience’s most pressing problem meet and form a meaningful relationship.
Below are four questions about your current position. Answer “yes” to all of them and you have a position that has staying power for years to come. Answer “no” to any of them tells you it’s time to change your position:
- Is your position important to your target audience?
Explanation: Your positioning statement is important if it expresses a benefit that solves a pressing customer/buyer problem. Test for importance by ranking customer problems – what causes them to be a buyer. Then determine if your positioning statement aligns with one of the most pressing problems. If it doesn’t, it’s time to change your position.
- Is your positioning statement unique? Does it differentiate you from your competitors?
Explanation: Positioning always occurs in a competitive environment. Therefore, your positioning statement must express a benefit that no other competitor is claiming. If other competitors have the same position, change yours as soon as possible.
I use a technique called perceptual mapping that makes it easy to see how you are positioned relative to the competition. You can learn more about perceptual mapping and differentiation on this page on the Messages that Matter website.
Why is it critical that you differentiate? When you make a unique claim, two things happen. First, you raise a significant barrier to competition. Second, you increase the desirability of your offering. These two outcomes can significantly impact sales volume, market share, and profitability.
- Is your positioning statement believable?
Explanation: B2B technology buyers have learned to doubt nearly every claim they read or hear. Effective positioning allows us to cut through cynicism by making our case in simple, believable, compelling language. It’s time to change your position if you can’t prove it or it makes common, overused claims such as transform, empower, deliver insight, etc.
Effective positioning statements recognize prospects’ inherent skepticism by avoiding exaggerated or meaningless claims. A believable positioning statement “rings true” by referencing existing market conditions. It reinforces your company’s brand identity and signals that you understand the prospect’s concerns.
- Does your positioning statement adapt to all marketing communications and situations?
Explanation: There’s only one way to claim a position and that is by using it consistently and repeating so often you get sick of it. Then keep repeating it!
A positioning statement becomes the theme for everything you do in marketing from website copy to campaigns to press releases to social media, etc. You should be able to use your positioning statement in all marketing communications and situations. If you can’t, you’re not claiming a position and it needs to be changed.
That’s because the most thoughtful and logical position will not trigger a buying decision unless your target audience understands and remembers it. You can make your position more memorable by repeating it. Even repetition of a few simple words sends a strong signal to the decision-making portion of our brain, prompting it to note, “I should remember that.”
Repeat your often so your target audience bookmarks it as important. Donald Trump uses this technique to great effect.
What do you do when you’ve claimed an effective position for an extended period-of-time, and suddenly a competitor copies you? One option is to stick with it because your position already owns a mental space in your target audience’s mind. Your target audience may actually think the copycat’s marketing efforts are yours. However, make sure your position is important, believable and adaptable. If it doesn’t meet one of those criteria, it’s time to change your position. Summertime is a good time to do it!