The best product is not necessarily the market leader anymore. In today’s hyper-competitive markets, it’s the company with the best product positioning, marketing communications and sales execution that typically out-distances its competition.
Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.”
– Tom Chappell, Tom’s Of Maine
Product positioning is a process used to determine how to best communicate your product’s attributes to your target audience, based on their needs and the competition, in a way that resonates and compels them to take action. Companies must continually refine their product positioning and key messages due to multiple buyers in the sales cycle, as well as constantly shifting market dynamics and competitive landscapes.
Many are familiar with the standard product life cycle, with revenues following a traditional bell curve from product inception through market acceptance and finally to product maturity, which is a phase of declining revenue. But many companies don’t recognize there are also multiple positioning and message cycles that overlay the product life cycle. This chart depicts these short message life cycles, offering a significant revenue opportunity for companies that manage them in a timely and effective manner.
As you can see, during product launch and decline, the positioning and messages are the most dynamic with shorter message life cycles. This is a result of Marketing and Sales going through an aggressive learning curve during product roll out, and how they’re scrambling for every last nickel during the declining revenue phase.
The product launch phase is particularly important from a positioning and message standpoint. It can make or break a product and has the greatest potential for generating large increases in revenue. Recent studies on product launches by the University of North Carolina found that:
- 100% of Sales & Marketing executives felt their product launches were ineffective, and
- Two out of three product launches failed to meet target revenue goals
The cited critical success factors were:
- Clear concise positioning and messages
- Business-oriented value propositions
- Competitive differentiators that reflect business value, and
- Effective needs based qualifying questions
But nailing your positioning and messaging should not be limited to product launches. Markets change—all the time. A company’s brand, product or service must continually be examined to determine what is the most effective unique selling proposition for that stage. It’s unlikely that anybody will want to use your product or service unless they understand what it does—and more importantly why they should care. Simple language is the best method to convey (quickly!) what you do, why you’re different and how you’ll benefit them. Without an emotional trigger, you’re just another product. And you can say goodbye to market leadership and optimized revenues.