Branding vs. Positioning. Is there a difference and why does it matter?

What is the difference between branding and positioning? Some think they are one and the same.

Others get them confused, thinking positioning is branding and vice versa. I will never forget the presentation I made many years ago to the new ad agency tasked with branding the company I was working for in Europe. I explained the framework the team used to position one of our products, including the position for it. After our agency team huddled for a few minutes, they came back and said we had already done branding. read more

How to align sales and marketing through positioning

Is there a disconnect between your marketing team and sales? Do sales team members love your presentations or do they complain about them? What about the leads you create? Do they jump all over them?

I have been asking sales consultants for the last month whether they have ever worked with a B2B software company that has alignment between sales and marketing. I have yet to get a “yes” answer but instead they say it’s a problem that does not have a solution until the structure of sales and marketing is blown apart. Then reconstructed in a way that sales and marketing become a cohesive team that works together rather than at odds with each other.

Differentiation improves marketing and sales effectiveness

Do you wonder why your latest marketing campaign didn’t generate enough good leads? Or why too many sales opportunities stall or result in no decision?

A big part of the problem is likely to be lack of differentiation, but it shouldn’t be. After all, marketing is done in public. All you have to do is evaluate competitors’ websites to determine how they are positioned.

Then create a positioning statement that sets you apart from the competition.

Easier said than done!

Lack of differentiation is a problem in every B2B software market I evaluate. For example, five midmarket accounting vendors have a “growth” position. It’s worse in the Business Intelligence market. Eleven vendors have an “insight” position. Here’s a link to my blog that explains why “insight” is so popular in the BI market. It includes perceptual maps that make it easy to see how the BI vendors are positioned.

If your message isn’t getting through to potential buyers and those you are trying to sell to, you need a new position that differentiates you from your competitors. Unique claims attract prospects and make buyers want to buy because they highlight the difference, gap, or disruption the brain is seeking to justify a quick decision.

According to “Neuromarketing,” the decision-making portion of the brain “responds favorably to clear, solid contrast. It is hard wired to pay attention to contrast which helps prospects make decisions more quickly and easily. Contrast is often needed to trigger our brain to make a decision.”

Differentiation made easy

How do you create a position that differentiates? A definition of positioning helps you get started in the right direction.

Positioning is the mental space in your target audience’s mind that you can occupy with an idea that has compelling meaning to the recipient. It’s in this mental space where your solution to the target’s most pressing problem meet and form a meaningful relationship.

To position effectively, you need a list of target audience problems ranked by importance; a graphical depiction of how your competitors are positioned and an understanding of how our brains make decisions.

Once you have a list of problems ranked by importance, brainstorm positioning statements that express a benefit that solves the No. 1 problem.  Then test your options for uniqueness to determine if your position will stand out from the crowd.

Your unique position is the foundation for marketing and sales success read more

Two ways to improve marketing

If you’ve tried to improve marketing effectiveness and not had much success, consider one simple solution and a more radical one. Both are based on positioning.

The simple solution is to use your position as the foundation for everything you do in marketing. Use it as much as possible and repeat it often.

The radical solution is to change your position because it doesn’t meet four criteria I use to determine the potential effectiveness of a position. Your target audience will pay attention to your marketing when your position is unique, important, believable and usable.

Repetition is key to claiming a position in your market

But an effective position that meets the four criteria won’t improve your marketing unless you use it so often you get sick of it.

One of the biggest problems I encounter in B2B technology marketing is failure to effectively execute what has the potential to be a compelling position – that mental space in your target audience’s mind that you can occupy with an idea that has compelling meaning to the recipient. It’s in this mental space where your solution to the target’s pressing problem meet and form a meaningful relationship.

I can’t count the times that I’ve visited a website that had a strong position stated on its home page, and the position was never mentioned again, or at best on the “About us” page.

While the most thoughtful and logical position may interest your prospect, it won’t trigger a buying decision unless the portion of the brain that makes decisions understands and remembers it. You make your claims more memorable by repeating them. Even repetition of a few simple words sends a strong signal to the brain, prompting it to note, “I should remember that.”

Repeat your claims so that the decision-making portion of the brain will bookmark them as important.  Donald Trump uses this technique to great effect all the time.

Test your position using four criteria read more