--Market Positioning--
     Are You Playing in the Right Spot?

Market Positioning is the key to long-term success once you have determined that the market can provide the rewards you require for the effort and capital you are going to commit to building your business.

In another article, we address the need to play in a game worth winning. In particular, we discuss a method for determining whether or not your market is sufficiently large to provide the success you require.

Once that decision has been made, you need to clarify the market position you should be playing.

In this article, we take a look at some processes for refining a market to a manageable and marketable size.

Which is the right market position for you to be playing?

The selection of the right niche, the right market position, for your business is critical to your success.

Too large and you will not be able to fend off larger companies or hold your position in the market.

Too small and your market position will not provide you with sufficient opportunity to meet your goals.

Two helpful rules are provided in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, by Jack Trout and Al Reis, a text which should be in the library of every businessperson.

  • THE LAW OF LEADERSHIP -- It is better to be first than it is to be better; and
  • THE LAW OF CATEGORY – If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.

How is your business perceived in your chosen market? Trout and Reis maintain that if you are not seen as the leader, or, at worst, second position, in the game you are playing, you are competing under a serious marketing handicap.

The solution to this impairment is to redefine the game you are willing to play. Not every homebuilder can be the largest builder in the area. Only one builder can hold that position. But “largest” isn’t the only game in town, and it may not even be the best one.

What about these Categories?

  • The first builder to design houses for the huge market of handicapped home buyers:
  • The first builder to make all his homes Internet ready;
  • The first builder to go “green” with the products used in her homes;
  • The first builder to offer transitional housing which can be added to or reduced in size as the homeowner’s housing needs and finances change;
  • The first builder to specialize in "age-in-place" design;
  • The leading builder in the market at providing maximum square footage per dollar;
  • The first homebuilder to ……. (you get the idea).

Market Gap Analysis...

... is the most powerful tool you can use in finding a category in which your business can be the leader. This technique helps you to look at your available market, identify needs that are not being met, and orient your business toward meeting those needs.

The brainstorming process is summarized in the following steps:

  1. Lay out your company objectives as a reference point (size, growth, profitability, longevity);
  2. Segment the market into major categories and sub-categories (age, occupation, finances, lifestyles, health, etc.);
  3. List the problems which customers in the categories face (home too small, home too big, too expensive to operate, no amenities, too far from town, too close to town, etc) ;
  4. Select the problems with which your company has the ability to deal (which problems can we address and which problems do we want to address) ;
  5. List possible solutions to the problems identified;
  6. Select the most promising solutions and verify that they are viable for your company and your market.
  7. Do what is necessary to establish the #1 market position in that niche.

If conducted properly, this process will produce more opportunities than can be dealt with. The problem becomes not getting ideas, but selecting the best ideas. That is a good problem to have.

Hey...We're #1

The next step is to position your company as the “First (or Leading) Company in (Your Market) to address and solve the …..problem”. Since you have identified, analyzed, and researched the problem, you are, by definition, the rightful expert in solving the problem. You are establishing your company as the leader in the new category.

Notice that the process begins with the needs of your market. You are helping your potential customers solve a problem they are dealing with, and that is what every company must do to succeed.

That’s the market position you want to play.

This worksheet can help define where you should be playing!!

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