7 Signs Your Business Has A Positioning Problem [And Why Familiarity Kills Businesses]

There is a new status-quo emerging in the business world and it can all be summed up with one word: “Familiar”.

Competitive rivalry has a habit of forcing business owners to slavishly copy what has worked in the past, casting their services ever wider with the hope of catching new customers in the process.

From a market perspective, the familiar is invisible and in hyper-competitive market conditions, incumbents tend to compete on price and not value, which only re-enforces the feeling of familiarity in the eyes of a prospect. This is what kills businesses.

Why Positioning Matters

For business owners who do not have a compelling positioning and message in the market, your business will simply not grow.

In today’s cluttered brand and communications landscape, there are three things that determine whether your brand will have any notoriety in the market: Distinctiveness, credibility and salience.

If your brand is not doing anything unique it will lack distinctiveness, if it lacks credibility your prospects will not believe you and if it lacks future salience, it will lose relevance and without relevance, no business can survive for very long.

Positioning your business is about helping your market make sense of what you do, but most importantly, it’s about positioning your business in the mind of your target customer in such a way that your business becomes distinctive and ridiculously attractive.

How Customers Choose

Customers hire your business, product or service to solve a problem for them, but the challenge for them is to articulate their problem and understand the costs of switching from one business, product or service to another.

It’s about risk. Often, it can be less risky for a customer to maintain the status-quo than to change it and that rings true when it comes to choosing a new type of yoghurt, switching banks and especially when it comes to choosing to do business with you or one of your competitors.

From a customer’s perspective, there are quantifiable and unquantifiable switching costs. Quantifiable switching costs are things like price or taste, but then there are the unquantifiable switching costs like your children crying because they don’t have their usual yoghurt in their lunch box.

This same insight can be applied to literally every single type of product and service that a business offers, which makes the role of positioning your business as the preferred or only choice in your market, such a critical element of your strategy to get right.

7 Signs You Have a Positioning Problem

  1. Your prospects cannot tell you what you do

There is a simple litmus test for this. Phone three prospects and ask them what they think you do as a business? If you fail to get three of the same answers you probably have a positioning problem.

  1. Your brand is underperforming against objectives

When your positioning is not suited to the market you are serving it will typically have a negative impact on the brand and sales power of your business.

Brand power refers to the notoriety or salience of your brand in the market that you operate in. There is a difference between awareness and notoriety – your market may know who you are but is your brand noteworthy? Sales power refers to the ability of your business to make a sale. If your business is underperforming against its brand and sales objectives, then you probably have a positioning problem.

If your business does not occupy a unique position in the mindset of your prospects it will significantly hinder your ability to make a sale, and ultimately grow your business.

  1. You are losing business to your competitors

Let’s say you are competing against a competitor that is selling a similar product or service to the same market. If there is any parity in terms of your competitor’s value propositions and prices, then the prospect will invariably revert to the business with a more unique and compelling positioning in the market.

In my experience, many business owners lose out to competitors who simply tell a better story in the marketplace that they operate in. A business, product or service with a more compelling story that talks to a differentiated positioning generally wins. So, if you are losing business to your competitors and you are uncertain about why, then you probably have a positioning problem.

  1. Your positioning doesn’t reflect what you do

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, the needs of your customers are constantly changing. To address these changing needs, the savvy business owner looks to change the strategy of the business to serve their customers more efficiently.

Enter the pivot. If you change the strategy of your business, it can quickly develop into a situation where your positioning no longer reflects what you do as a business. As a general rule, if you haven’t evaluated the positioning of your business in the last two years, then you probably have a positioning problem.

  1. You are competing on price and not value

The importance of positioning is directly proportionate to the degree of competition in the market. As a market matures, more competitors enter the market which puts pressure on incumbents to maintain their market share. This can manifest into key aspects of a business like declining sales and an ever-increasing margin squeeze.

To counteract this effect, the knee-jerk response is to react by competing on price and when that happens, it almost always ends in failure. But why compete on price when you can compete on value? A reworked positioning of your business in the marketplace is the conduit to the re-enforcement of value that you represent in the market and can change the perception of the market about your business.

Perception goes a long way to ensuring that you can continue to charge a premium for your products and services and remain ahead of a price hungry competitor. So, if you are competing on price and not value, then you probably have a positioning problem.

  1. Your communications do not support your positioning

There is nothing worse than a confused customer. If your messages from a sales and marketing perspective are not congruent across all channels it confuses the hell out of them because they are not on message. All your communications need to support the story that supports your positioning. If your communications are fragmented, then you probably have a positioning problem.

  1. Your employees are not inspired by what you do

A business is simply a group a people working towards a common goal. Your positioning must act as a north star towards achieving that goal and should be easily understood, relatable and transferrable. If your employees are not inspired by what you do, then you probably have a positioning problem.

How Digital Kungfu Can Help

As a business owner, when you are working in your business you often cannot read the label from inside the bottle.

An objective view of your businesses needs to be painted using a combination of research, specialization and differentiation methods to develop a highly effective positioning for your business that will make it distinctive and ridiculously attractive in the eyes of your prospects.

Digital Kungfu specializes in the helping business owners achieve just that. Our strategies combine research, strategy and implementation to deliver a market positioning that you can hang your hat on, and with certainty.


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