Those embracing classical marketing will recognize position as one of the 4 P’s (Position, Price, Place, Promotion). There’s a lot we can say about position, how to measure it, how to change it etc. but for the purpose of getting a good start with your inbound marketing, the two concepts you need to understand and track are position and positioning. There’s a difference. It’s important. And it’s often confused.
Position is the way your prospects view your business. Your prospects position you. You do not position yourself. One of our clients, Wellesley College, has a position in the market for women’s colleges. Those who have attended and those who wish to attend Wellesley create that position. That is the way they see the Wellesley brand. There is nothing Wellesley can do about its position and there’s also nothing you can do about your market position either. It just is.
When time and budget allow, it’s important to use techniques like surveys and focus groups to measure your market position and establish a baseline (important note: Your baseline will move as you deploy your marketing activities. One of the great things about the Hubspot Inbound Marketing software is that it provides ongoing metrics that help track the effectiveness of your lead generation and brand management activities in real time.) that will be used to plan and measure your marketing activities. It's difficult to end up where you want to be if you don't know where you're starting from!
Read: Positioning Statement Process
Knowing your position, you may want to be someplace other than where you are. That's positioning. The Wellesley marketing team and development office, for example, have goals for their market position. They have positioning goals. Their positioning statement defines those goals and these goals support objectives such as admissions targets, fundraising goals etc.
In a nutshell, a positioning statement answers some basic—yet important—questions:
- Who is your brand?
- What is your business or industry?
- Who is your target audience, and what are their needs?
- Who are your competitors?
- What is your key/unique benefit or differentiator over competitors?
- Why should anyone believe you can deliver the benefits?
The gap between the position and the positioning statement defines the marketing activities required to achieve the goals. But beware. If the gap between your position and your positioning is too large, prospects won't believe you. For example, McDonalds has had difficulty marketing its restaurants as a source for healthy food. The power of its brand for fast food with irresistable items like salty french fries, makes the claim that McDonalds is a health oriented restaurant difficult to believe. One indication that the gap between your positioning and your position is too great is a high bounce rate on an offer page.
Unless you have a brand, know its position and have goals for your positioning you can’t know which activities and how much effort will be required to make your brand more valuable and achieve your goals.
This is especially true of your inbound marketing efforts in these important ways:
- Keywords - knowing your position may help you choose keywords that your prospects are likely to consider when they look for you online.
- Offers - your positioning statement will help you create offers that reinforce who you want to be
- Conversion - a credible position, one consistent with your prospect's assesment of your brand, enables you to ask more detailed questions on your forms because your brand brings with it a certain trust.
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