Allison Bliss

Article Summary:

Why is positioning the ultimate marketing technique?

Positioning:The Ultimate Marketing Technique

If you've ever taken one of those "Marketing 101" classes, you may already know the "5 P's" of marketing:

  • Pricing
  • Product
  • Promotion
  • Placement (distribution)
  • Positioning (how you're special or unique)

In this article, we'll look at what is arguably the most critical "P" - Positioning.

Positioning is the process of differentiating your company from the others in your general category. Why bother with this exercise? It's simple: Unless you do so, your potential clients won't have a clue why they should buy from YOU instead of others.

Positioning Perils
Most businesses eventually understand how to develop a great product (or service), how to set proper pricing structures, and even learn the best ways to promote and place (or distribute) what they offer. But some get confused into thinking that in order to generate more sales, they have to keep changing that product - big mistake!

For example, I have several clients who initially told me that their service or product wasn't good enough, or they believed they had to get more and more education or certifications to properly promote their companies. Women, especially, are often inclined to believe they need more education - instead of learning how to efficiently communicate their value.

What I have found is that mostly these well-intentioned (but ultimately misguided) souls simply need clarification to define their positioning effectively. In other words, their service and/or education are absolutely up to par. What they lack is sufficient market research to establish their value, their positioning. The side affect: it also gives you huge self-confidence knowing what your clients really need and value from your company.

The worst symptom: lack of positioning prevents these business owners from increasing their earnings. I can't say it strongly enough: The companies that know how to position themselves thrive, while the others just survive.

So, How Do You Put This Into Effect?
Here's an example: One of my former design firm clients had a goal to increase business in order to grow their staff. While the agency offered outstanding catalog, logo, and packaging design services, they hadn't taken the time to position themselves - a huge blunder in the glutted field of Bay Area design. As a result, busy clients had no reason to hire this firm (unless they offered the lowest-price services). Sound like a winning strategy? Hardly!

At the agency's request, we did some primary market research to position a client which shows a clear example of the importance of this marketing principle: We interviewed their clients to find out why people hired them, and what was unique or valuable about the company.

Surprisingly, we found that it really wasn't their brilliant design-work that their customers loved. Instead, the firm's clients cherished the "non-diva-like" behavior of the designers. The creative team didn't argue with clients, they never insisted on getting their own way, and they didn't have a lackadaisical attitude on deadlines (like so many of the top design firms in the area).

Armed with that knowledge, we created both positioning and a tagline: "Design Without Attitude." In no time, customers who were tired of other designers' misbehavior came flocking to this agency's front door. Thanks to well-crafted positioning, it was immediately apparent why the firm was so special. As a result, they flourished and added staff to meet their goals much faster than expected.

Why Is Positioning So Hard to Do for Ourselves?
To know how to promote yourself, you first have to know what your clients really value (especially about you and your company). But typically, your clients won't tell you what they will tell a third party.


We've found a number of reasons. Your clients may be afraid that if they rave about you, you'll raise your prices. Or, if they offer suggestions for improvements, they fear you'll overestimate on their next job - or, even be offended by their comments. Worst of all, people are often afraid that if they give you constructive criticism to improve your business, you won't like them. As a result, they'll usually only tell you what you want to hear instead of what is really useful in understanding your value, so you can properly position your business. All of these are valid concerns, and need to be handled professionally.

Bottom Line: Increase Your Earnings with Positioning
Think how many thousands of dollars, and scores of potentially productive hours you are losing by not having positioning that works for your business. If you play up the ways in which you are unique, special, or different from your competition, you make it easier for your customers/clients to buy from you. When it's easier to buy, you make more sales, and more money. Not exactly rocket science, right? 

Allison Bliss is the Founder and CEO of Allison Bliss Consulting, one of the top full service marketing & communications firms in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her company rebels against misleading, pushy, spam-filled marketing offering Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurs customized business and marketing services which clients say brings incredible, measurable results.

The company's website at Allison also has a tool for businesses explaining 'how to write a company profile'. Instead of paying a writer $500+ for a profile, this tool (under $25) asks a series of questions and assembles answers into a complete, professional company profile.

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