Unremarkable, 5 classical positioning mistakes

Unremarkable, 5 classical positioning mistakes
Positioning is challenging, precisely because the best positionings are incredibly simple and obvious. The best positionings are so ‘logical’ that most people completely overlook them. Positioning emerged in the ’70s, and we previously wrote about the 6 lessons from the book that started it all: Positioning, how to be seen and heard in the overcrowded marketplace. Since the do’s obviously can’t exist without the don’ts, we’re eager to share the 5 classic mistakes in positioning as we read in the book.

  1. We’re better than the competition! Faced with such positioning, the prospect has just one question: ‘Oh, then why aren’t you the market leader?’ In effect, you’re blaming the prospect, who doesn’t have that image of you at all, and whose fault is that, really?
  2. Trying to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one. The well-known neither fish nor fowl, by not taking a clear position in the market, it’s impossible for customers to choose you. And in this age of social media and word-of-mouth, an even more painful consequence might follow: the customers you do have find it impossible to recommend you to their contacts.
  3. Complex and Confusing Advertising is not a debate. It’s seduction. We’re bombarded with messages and ads, thousands a day, so tell people clearly what makes you unique.
  4. Your people are not a USP It sounds very appealing, ‘we’re proud of the people who make our products’ or ‘people are our most important asset’. But the reality is that everyone expects the best people to work at the biggest, most successful companies. If you’re high on their list, people already assume your people are the best and find it odd you have to say it. If they don’t rate you as highly, how do you think they’ll react to this message?
  5. Diversification is not a USP A wide product line may be profitable, but a positioning is never built on a broad product range. Try writing down 10 major B2B brands and see what they’re known for.

Good positioning requires the right balance between two things: How unique can we make the positioning, while still maintaining enough demand for our products or services? This varies by company, product, market, and often even by region, making positioning an incredibly inspiring field. We’d like to share a quote from marketing giant Philip Kotler from the book’s foreword:

“Marketing is not a static discipline. Marketing is a constantly changing discipline and positioning is one of those revolutionary changes that keeps the marketing field alive, interesting, exciting, and fascinating.”

Want to know more about positioning and how to get started yourself? Read our Positioning page and find, alongside in-depth articles, dozens of examples and models for every possible positioning challenge.

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