Sometimes “winging it” can be a successful strategy, but most of the times it isn’t. Especially when it comes to building awareness of a business or organization, you need to understand your positioning in the marketplace.
If you are always changing the message you share with your target audiences, how can they know who you are? Having consistent messages that build on one another is critical in building a strong brand position.
Too often, organizations blindly throw darts to see what works. Sometimes it might hit the board – sometimes not. And most likely, it will never be a bullseye. That’s why doing your homework beforehand is so important. We were on a conference call with one of our strategic partners last week, and she so aptly reminded that when putting a marketing plan together, background research and discovery are the most critical components to its success – the tactics come together fairly quickly after that.
So what’s an organization to do to ensure it understands its key positioning?
If you have the resources, an audit with competitive analysis, market research and stakeholder conversations is one of the more sophisticated ways to understand your positioning. These take months to pull together, however, and aren’t always a realistic option in terms of time or expense. Discovering an organization’s position in the marketplace doesn’t necessarily need to be a complicated process, but it should be thoughtfully done.
Gathering the right people around the table for a conversation is a really great place to start. Key information holders, such as the executive team, typically are who you start with, but I’d also encourage you to bring in team members who are working directly with your customers or clients. These team members are going to have a strong understanding of who you connect with each day. If possible, bring in one of or more customers and a few other folks who aren’t as close to the day-to-day of the business as they can offer a fresh perspective to help you think more broadly.
Together with this group, work on defining who you are as an organization, why you think people should buy your product or use your service, what makes you different from your competitors, how your competitors position themselves, why people are already utilizing your product or service, why some aren’t and what value you bring to the marketplace.
Having conversations around these topics will help you pull at the nuggets of why someone should vote with their dollars on you. You should be able to come away with a clear understanding of this and then utilize it in your marketing plans.
From there, you can develop key messages. After your positioning statement, these are the most valuable tool to have as you communicate your brand with stakeholders. These should be succinct phrases that clearly and memorably define who you are, what you do, what makes you better than your competitors and why customers or clients should choose you.
It’s easy to want to jump right into the “fun stuff” by creating advertisements, social media campaigns or press plans, but if you can’t clearly define who you are – and stick to that definition – it will be an uphill battle to gain traction. It’s true what they say that hard work upfront almost always pays off bigger dividends in the long run.