With all the hype these days about inbound marketing, business owners sometimes overlook a critical aspect of branding – their company’s positioning in their marketplace.
The whole point of inbound marketing is that it levels the playing field and enables smaller businesses to compete on an equal footing with larger. Unless your company positioning is set up correctly to do so, however, you’re likely to lose out on vital opportunities to target the right clients. Coca-Cola, for example, positions itself as a young-at-heart, fun-loving company whose product gives everyone a good time.
So before you get wrapped up in planning your marketing activities, you need to know these secrets to make sure you’re marketing the right way, and to the right people.
Secret #1: Get a Competitive Advantage
What is the number one thing your company does differently from others in your market? Note we said “differently,” not necessarily better, cheaper or faster! Those are all good concepts, but everyone is trying to do one or all of them.
Differentiation is what gives you a competitive advantage, so what you need is identify do one or two things you do very well, then think in terms of the benefits of those to your clients and how that sets you apart.
That takes you directly out of the price or speed-of-service rat-races, where you might not be able to compete effectively, and puts you in a place where you set the terms for competing.
Secret #2: Know Your Market
Once you know what it is you have to offer that beats out other companies in your field, you need to identify how that impacts your target market. This requires going beyond the basic market intelligence, and might even take some guesswork or out-of-the-box thinking on your part.
The best way to understand your market is to target a narrow segment or group of your best clients, then build customer personas based on them. This will enable you to create visual descriptions of your ideal client, his (or her) needs and wants, pain points and reactions.
Getting this right goes far beyond demographic data, and you might have to use some assumptions and imagination, or do research based on a survey or questionnaire to determine your company positioning.
Secret #3: Develop a Personality
It’s not enough to sell products, offer excellent service or even a great price. Branding is important if you want your clients to remember you. And once they do, what picture do they have of you in their minds? Does your brand have a strong personality that they think of immediately, or are you just another “ho-hum” company offering the same old same old? Even if your products are identical to another supplier, you can differentiate your company by building a brand personality that positions you in a certain light.
For example, are you a discount seller with a market position as one of the lower-priced providers? If so, then you’re going to get the customers who seek out low prices, whether you want them or not. Or are you viewed as exclusive, expensive and worth every cent? Because that’s how to get customers who are prepared to pay more for quality.
Neither of these options is right or wrong. They are options you can choose from and then make sure your inbound marketing matches your market positioning for maximum effect.