When you are entering an industry that has already established key players, there are a couple of things you want to be really mindful of in order to be profitably positioned. Now, the truth is, there are so many articles and YouTube videos that teach brand positioning, but there are very few platforms out there that teach you how to position your startup brand profitably in a market with big players.
So, what are some of these key things you want to be mindful of?
1) You can’t beat an already-established key player in their own game. You must be able to define your own game plan that will give you an unfair advantage against them.
2) You don’t want to be a me-too brand. Saying what has been said or promising what someone else is already fulfilling will never help you get any solid positioning.
3) Going hard on functional benefit, customer service, and social proof, one user (or customer) at a time, will always win over trying hard to look and sound fancy without providing strong reasons for the market to try you out. See also: Brand Positioning & Differentiation Techniques for Startups.
Now that you’ve learned these three things, how should you implement your positioning strategy?
1) Find the sweet gap. Study the market you want to serve. Locate interest groups where they can be found in their rich clusters (Facebook groups, Telegram channels, Twitter spaces, competitors’ posts, hashtags, trends, etc.) Take note of the discussions, market sentiments, unmet needs, and performance gaps. These are the things that would help you know the sweet gaps you can exploit.
Apple is one brand that has deployed this principle with its Apple wristwatch. There have been wristwatches that only watched time and nothing else, but when Apple came into the game, they came with something that watched time and more. Something that stole the show and became an integral part of people’s daily lives. See also: Brand-building lessons from the Apple Watch.
2) Tailor your value propositions and deliverables to address the sweet gaps head-on. This is where your brand communications and marketing moves have to be strategic. While making your promises and talking about the functional benefits of your brand, use the exact words your target consumers are using to describe their pain points. That is how you address the existing performance gaps head-on.
“We are the smartest way to get around. One tap and a car comes straight to you. The driver knows exactly where to go, and payment is completely cashless.”Uber
3) When you’re starting out, always go big on customer service and gathering social proof. Never let this slip. These are the two things that will boost your market reputation and brand equity really fast. People always gravitate towards visible results and tangible proofs.
Another thing you must understand is that if you’re building on a low budget with personal funds (i.e., bootstrapping), your marketing activities have to be guerilla in nature and very smart. Also, never neglect the brand for branding and marketing. It is good to be bold and audacious in your marketing, but remember that customer service, tangible results, and social proof are the key validators of your brand.
4) Be very intentional with how you tell your story via content marketing. Tell stories that shape the kind of perception you intend to create about your brand. Before sharing anything, one simple question you always want to ask is, “What is the purpose of this communication, and what is the intended perception I want to use it to trigger?” See also: Brand Positioning & Differentiation Techniques for Startups.
Being careless about your content marketing can deposition you without your knowledge. Remember, we define brand positioning as the space you occupy in the minds of your target audience.