In part one of our series, we explored how discounting wars begin and how to get out of them – or, even better, avoid them altogether.
In this piece, we’ll explore how strategic positioning can keep your products out of the discounting fiasco. Essentially, strategic positioning will help your products gain greater traction with higher-level decision-makers.
An effective starting point is to gain a thorough understanding of what else is happening in the market and identify points of differentiation and the true value your products deliver. Getting this thorough understanding means exploring the perceptions of both internal stakeholders as well as external influencers including your customers, the media and your competition.
This 360 approach can be a daunting task, especially for manufacturers that have products with a wide range of applications across numerous industries. Take a breath - there are some simple ways you can begin tackling the process. A good place to start is to explore the websites of your competitors. We have all seen B2B websites that are essentially, well, product catalogs – there is no value messaging and the manufacturer simply lists products with technical details. On the other hand, there are plenty of exemplary websites with strong positioning and that offer tools to educate customers on applications, trends, regulatory compliance, sell-through value, sustainability, etc.
Of the companies that are performing the best in the market, think about the areas they excel at as well as where they fail. Then think about where you fall in comparison.
Studying your target customer is another critical part of the equation. You need to understand what keeps them up at night and identify what value means to them. Do some digging to understand how they truly perceive you versus the other players in the market. For some companies, going one step further to analyze the perceptions of your customer’s customer, or the consumer, also has value. Enlist experts when conducting a consumer survey, as it is exceedingly easy to create unintended bias in the questions and end up with heaps upon heaps of unusable data.
Media influencers are another great resource for information. Who better to give you the big picture in terms of trends driving the industry, perceptions of the players at the table and insight into what’s next? In the process, educating editors at magazines, journals and blogs about your company’s distinct positioning gives you a platform to communicate your value to customers and prospects. Leveraging this channel not only accelerates awareness for your brand, but also bolsters credibility.
Now that you’ve done all this homework, it’s time to analyze your findings and determine the best way to brand and position your product to reflect those findings. A new value-based brand name for your product and corresponding messaging may get the job done. In some cases, depending on the complexity of your portfolio, a whole new brand architecture may be needed to cut through the clutter and help customers understand the value – and differences – between various products. This is where engaging a professional agency like ABI that has a history of getting results can be the difference in your success.
Once you finalize your positioning and messaging, it’s time to think about how you’ll communicate it to internal and external stakeholders. Check out the third and final post in our blog series for more insight on that topic.