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How to create a market positioning strategy

What sets your company apart from your competition? What products and services do you offer that your competitors cannot? How can you connect and engage with customers in unique and memorable ways?

Answers to these questions are at the heart of identifying, defining and executing on an effective market positioning strategy.

A marketing positioning strategy is designed to carve out and amplify an identity different from your competitors. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, a strong market positioning strategy is key to promoting and differentiating your company and products in ways that build deep brand loyalty, attract and retain new customers and, ultimately, drive strong revenue growth.


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Evidence of the value of successful market positioning is readily available in our daily lives. Brands that have gained iconic status have done so by effectively positioning themselves in engaging and inspiring ways, even if they’re selling products that are largely everyday commodities.

Starbucks is a prime example. Countless restaurants, stores and, of course, coffee shops sell a wide array of Java. Yet, in a crowded market, Starbucks found the right blend of good coffee, a wide array of offerings, distinctive branding and an inviting yet bustling atmosphere to position itself in ways that garner deep devotion among their customers – devotion so deep that those customers will pay more for a cup of coffee at Starbucks than they are willing to at less distinctive competitors.

Apple is another classic example. There are plenty of personal computers and electronic devices on the market, most of which are considerably less expensive than Apple products. Yet Apple has been able to maintain and grow the value of their iOS products by staking claim to market positioning anchored by clean and beautiful design, simplicity, coolness and engaging branding that customers love.

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You need a marketing position strategy because it drives home the value of your products or services in ways that resonate with current customers, attracts new ones, and sets you apart  and hopefully above your competitors.

Without a positioning strategy, Starbucks is a run-of-the-mill coffee shop and Apple is a computer and phone manufacturer. In reality, that is what both those companies are, but the fact that hardly anyone thinks of them in that way should tell you all you need to know about why a positioning strategy matters a lot.

Your goal in crafting a marketing position is to clarify who you serve, why you serve them, which competitors are vying for your business and how you are differentiated from those competitors. Armed with that insight, you can execute on marketing, branding and go-to-market strategies that reinforce and amplify your marketing position to differentiate your company and build stronger customer engagement, loyalty and even advocacy.

Bear in mind that market positioning is more than just a slogan or tagline. Those are certainly important, but they are only as effective as the well-thought out positioning strategy and tactics supporting them. A slogan or tagline that rings hollow to customers is arguably worse than not having one at all. Consumers today are savvy, and they can readily detect when a company doesn’t live up to its own hype.

So, clearly a market positioning strategy is an important component of a successful business. But how do you make it a reality? The key is to take a focused and well-planned approach to developing a marketing position that is authentic, defensible and distinctive to your company.

What follows is a step-by-step approach to making it happen.


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Like many things in life, it’s essential to start by doing your homework. In this case, that means conducting market research to gain deeper insights about your target audience, their preferences, needs, attitudes and behaviours.  

You can use market research resources for audience targeting to understand who your ideal customers are and what problems you can solve for them. Surveys are a great way to quickly identify which people are most likely to buy your products. You can also gain insights from both domestic and international audiences to expand your research.

Identifying your ideal audience is critical to your market research. Demographics, buyer behaviour and psychographic surveys will provide you with data-driven insights about your customers and target prospects. Surveys, observations, interviews and customer data will further clarify who your ideal customer is, allowing you to better position your company and its products in the market.

Your target audience data lays the groundwork to develop two to three buyer personas you can use for concept testing of your products, messaging and pricing. Surveying your ideal audience before you go to market provides the high-quality audience data you need to evaluate your products and your competition.

To beat your competition, you must first understand them. Surveys from your target audience are excellent tools to learn what your customers view as your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. To make relevant comparisons, you will need information about the market size, number of competitors, customer brand preferences, and competing products.

SurveyMonkey’s market research surveys help you understand what your target audience thinks about your competitors and their products. Typical survey questions are:

  • How often do you use this product category?
  • When you think of this category, which brand comes to mind?
  • Have you heard of our company?
  • Have you purchased anything from the competitor?
  • How satisfied were you with the competitor’s product?

Competitive analysis will help identify key differentiators of your competitors, providing greater insight into what sets you apart from the competition and creates your unique value proposition. Market research survey templates make it easy to gather this information quickly, helping you avoid the risks of developing a positioning or products that don’t fully align with your customer’s needs.

Once you’ve gained a greater understanding of your market, your customers and your competitors, you can turn your attention to crafting your value proposition.

A value proposition is a succinct way of defining the unique value you offer to your target audience and how it differs from competitors. Writing a value proposition that captures who you are, your unique offerings and how your customers benefit from them provides a powerful reference point to guide your company’s next steps.

A simple and effective approach to crafting your value proposition uses three questions developed by Harvard Business School Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness. Brainstorming answers with your team will help you develop a value proposition that is certain to include the needs of your target customer.

These three questions focus on your internal operations and the value you provide to your customers. 

  1. Which customers are you going to serve?
  2. Which needs are you going to meet?
  3. What price will provide value for your customers and be profitable for your company?

Thoughtful answers to these three questions create the foundation for a value proposition that balances the needs of your customers, the realities of the market, and your company’s revenue goals.

A product positioning survey with your target audience will help you differentiate your products for a competitive advantage. Surveys are a quick way to get the pulse of your ideal customers and help position your products so they will stand out from your competitors. 

Once you have defined or updated your company’s value proposition, you can pivot to developing a market positioning statement that aligns with that value proposition in ways that  will resonate with customers and clearly differentiate you from competitors.

A good market positioning statement details the benefits that customers will receive and how your business offers and delivers products and services that differ from your competitors. It should include your brand’s identity, purpose and unique features and clearly define:

  • Your target audience
  • What products and services you will offer them
  • How you deliver your products and services
  • Your company’s purpose
  • How your products and services differ from your competitors

Your marketing positioning statement should be authentic, succinct, customer-focused and memorable so it can serve as an accessible resource for how everyone in your company talks about your brand.

Here are some tips to bear in mind as you are writing your statement so it is easy to digest and rings true with both internal and external audiences.

  1. Less is more: Keep it brief so people understand and remember it.
  2. Use powerful words: Your statement should be memorable and clearly state what you do and how you do it.
  3. Reflect who you are: State your core business values without using too much fluff or big words.
  4. Make a promise: Tell customers what you will do for them.
  5. Say why you’re different:  Make sure you stand out from your competition.
  6. Put a stake in the ground: Your positioning statement clarifies what you will do for the long term and future ideas will be compared against it.

Once you have completed a marketing positioning statement, make sure you roll it out throughout your company so everyone is aligned in how they are talking about your brand. Also, bear in mind that the statement may not be forever set in stone. Change is a constant in business: market conditions shift, new competitors arrive on the scene and customers’ expectations evolve. You may need to update your statement  periodically to reflect these changes. Surveys, interviews and customer comments are ways to keep you on top of changes in the market and upcoming trends.