This article is part two of a two-part series. In part one, we discussed why you need to focus on positioning and not competing.
You’re at a crossroads for your business RIGHT now. Everything you used to believe about analyzing your competitors, tracking their promotions, and stressing about their wins is behind you. In front of you, there’s an opportunity to be the brand that you envisioned when you started, and nothing else. Whether you’ve been in business 45 minutes or 45 years, you can take this advice and run with it, so let’s go.
In my previous article, I wrote about the importance of focusing on positioning, not competing. Now I want to fine-tune that focus by showing you 8 steps you can take to effectively position your brand for success.
Reframe your competitive analysis
Brand positioning means letting yourself forget about your competitors in order to better focus on you. However, being completely unaware of who else is cornering your market could be irresponsible. Make note of who plays in your sandbox, how they treat their people, what kinds of promotions they’re running, what reviews they’re getting. And then, let it go. Don’t track this weekly. Don’t assume all metrics are good metrics. And, because this apparently still happens, don’t poach their employees or steal their content. Awareness is plenty.
Cement your mission and your boundaries
Twitter and Facebook are different platforms but they’re competitors, too. They compete for investment, attention, and ad spend. When one unleashes a new feature, the other will match it in some way. But they’re not clones. Facebook might appear to have bigger boots but they’re not walking as gracefully in them. As time goes on, the two platforms have diverged further in their user base and cases for use. Recently, Twitter did something Facebook won’t by banning political paid advertising, a move that speaks to how they want to position themselves in relation to Facebook and at large. You need to do the same. Know what you want to accomplish and where you stand. Don’t let the moves your competitors make compel you to follow suit. That’s not your path. Those aren’t your people.
Determine your brand goals and center those
Have you ever looked at something someone else had, and envied it, only to realize later that it isn’t even something you want or like? As a teen, I begged my parents for a particular pair of shoes that everyone else was getting. They bought them for my birthday and, upon first wear, I realized they were uncomfortable, didn’t really match my style, and that I liked my Vans better. Don’t do this to yourself. Know your style and only invest in the shoes that honor that and feel good to you. Use your brand goals as a litmus test for every “should I?” that you’ll inevitably run into in business. If it doesn’t facilitate your goals, it isn’t for you.
Be proactive, not reactive
When you put down the binoculars and start focusing on your own work, you can make choices in rhythm with your timeline, look ahead and get ahead. Following in the footsteps of another brand always makes sure you’re in 2nd place. “Do whatever Walmart does” is not a strategy that Target can, nor should, employ. Walmart will make their decisions based on their consumers, goals, and data while Target does the same for themselves. They’re aware of each other. They’ll overlap, but they’ll also each retain the market share they have because they understand what sets them apart. When it’s time to make decisions for the next quarter, they’re not waiting to see what the other has already done.
Know your customers
It isn’t really about you. Or your competitors. It’s about your buyers. Without your customers, you AND your competition will all be defunct. But when we talk about customers, we’re really not talking about every person who might want to eat a breakfast taco in Austin, Texas. We’re talking about the people that you know come to your particular taqueria. That demands data, observation, and analysis of the market. That demands real, anecdotal conversations and touchpoints with your people. That should persuade you to read your reviews, analyze your social followers, survey your email list, and seek feedback. It should also compel you to heed that feedback and make all future decisions based on this ever-evolving group of people on whom your business success is hinged. Your success was never hinged upon your competitors. All the competitor data in the world won’t equate to what you’ll learn from the people with dollar bills to give (or not give) to your brand.
Embrace your position
Once you begin to understand which pocket of customers you match with, where you are on the broad or narrow spectrum of competition, and where you stand on issues related to your industry, you can pause. Your position is becoming clear. You know which “one” you are on the shelf, now. So live in that space. Instead of constantly fighting to capture a new service vertical or product type before your competitor, hone the ones you sell now. Instead of offering a promotion because your competitor did, double down on providing value at the listed price. You’ll be more confident in every stride than you ever have before.
Articulate your position
Once you know it, show it. Your employees want in on the treasure trove of confidence you’ve just unlocked. Help your customer service teams, salespeople, marketers, and leaders understand your position. Document it as a facet of your larger brand guidelines. Explore how your market position might translate to communications, marketing campaigns, sales cycles, customer touchpoints and even your employer brand. Assume this is a fluid and breathing document that can and should be reassessed, but keep the bones firm. When pressures rise, come back to these core elements of who your brand is and what your brand is trying to achieve for guidance.
Mind your own business
Data doesn’t lie but it sure does manipulate us. 2019-you would have seen a surge in competitor followers and began to dissect what they’re doing differently on Facebook. In 2020, you’ll be knee-deep in your own analytics, learning what makes your people tick, what you’ve done well in the past, and how you can improve. Your data is accurate, honest, specific to you, and can be tracked for the long haul. When you’re relentless about mining your own data, you can start minding your own business.
When you know your brand position and you honor that in all of your business and marketing decisions, you’ll win. At that point, it’s no longer a matter of beating a system or an algorithm or a comparative business. You can now begin referring to your competitors as your classmates, on the same journey, but different. You can wish them well, and you can share the road. They’ll earn their trophies and you, yours. This approach weeds out the businesses that can’t bother to put their customers first and puts you at the forefront of conscious, consumer-driven business for 2020.
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- Atomization and Amplification: The Double-A Batteries of Your Content Strategy - February 25, 2020
- The 8 Steps to Positioning Your Brand - January 2, 2020
- Stop Competing with Your Competitors and Do This Instead - December 19, 2019