Sunday, March 15, 2009

Position, position, position. What on earth is it?

Type the word "position" into Google and you are going to get some interesting search results: everything from recruitment advertisements; to mapping & surveying; and regrettably, karma sutra and tantric yoga. But what does it refer to in the context of marketing? Stay focussed now. I realise the discussion of mapping has touched on a soft spot :)

My first date with "positioning" was not a pleasant one. There were no flying sparks. Marketing 101 tells you that the "keys to marketing" are: product, price, promotion and place. Some refer to this as the "marketing mix". If your ask me, a linguistically-versatile professor had a love affair with the letter "P" and had to teach a marketing class the next day. Is alliteration the key to marketing? Surely not! So when I was later told about "positioning" let's just say I was not electrified with interest. Another important term starting with the same letter. How wrong I was...

"If you understand positioning, you are a already a couple of rungs above the majority of the professionals on the marketing ladder. "
Positioning is complex. Specifically, it emcompasses all the aspect of the marketing mix. Positioning helps us answer those confusing questions will bombard us in consumerville:

How can they charge me over $3 to purchase Red Bull tm ? And why do I keep buying it?

Why do I buy a Dell Computer rather than a generic brand?

That little fluffy duckling on the toilet paper looks so soft. Surely this will send me straight to wiping heaven? That's a no-brainer!

Now whatever situation you find yourself in- and it's fine to remain anonymous- you must realise that the powerful wand of positioning has cast a spell on you. Moreover, this was no accident.

If you have got this far you may be asking yourself why I haven't yet defined "positioning". So let's cut to wikipedia for a surefire definition:

"The process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market" (care of

To the marketing novice, think of "positioning" as a table. The four legs are the four "P's" of the marketing mix: product, price, promotion and place. Now without lecturing on either of these, all you need to know is this: take one leg away and the table will collapse.

If furniture doesn't work for you, lets throw away the figurative speak and give it to you straight up! Positioning is the difference between success and failure. You could develop a supreme product that is ready to explode onto the market like a raging bull at a cattle rodeo. But price your product incorrectly, and you cut yourself out of huge potential products. Place your products in the wrong distribution channel and you destroy the brand you have so desperately cultivated. Promote and design wrong and your "table" will not be standing tall.

One of the most public figures in the business world currently is hair-style spokesperson, Donald Trump. Wait, I think he is in real estate mostly :) But all jokes aside, The Donald is the master of positioning. When faced with a dire situation where he was being financially squeezed from all sides and required to sell numerous top-end apartment blocks in New York, Donald did what most would consider enterprise suicide: he RAISED the prices of this apartments. What was the result? They disappeared from the market like cupcakes at a bake stand. That is the power of positioning!

Whether you are Donald Trump or the local real estate broker you would have heard secret to property investment: "location, location, location". So let's run with that theme and jsut swap the subject matter to marketing. What's the secret? Position, position, position.

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