Product Positioning: Differentiate or Die

How is Your Product Positioned?

It seems like every purchase decision we make, from where to buy lunch to where to buy a new ERP system, involves comparison shopping on the internet. How do you position your product to stand out in a sea of competitors? Your choices are differentiate or die.

We recommend differentiation: the practice of highlighting the key differences and advantages your product offers over others. If you don’t tell your customers why they should choose you, there’s a good chance they’ll choose someone else.

So how do you differentiate effectively?

Figure Out What Your Customers Need

Chances are, you already have a pretty good idea of who might benefit from your product. If you don’t, you’ll want to get clear on that first.

Once that’s established, it’s time for research, research, and more research. Send a survey to current customers and ask them what they like about your product and how it meets their needs. Why do they stick with you? What makes your product great? Bonus points: ask them about the “softer” side of their relationship with your products, such as what they value at work and in life, what’s important to them when looking for a new product, etc. Remember: B2B buyers aren’t robots; they’re people who appreciate the same level of connection as B2C buyers (also people).

How Does Your Product Stand Out?

Once you have solid information from your customers, the next step is to work backwards from their values to your product. For example, if your customers value ease of use, you could highlight how seamlessly your product will integrate into their current way of doing things. If they value customer service, your messaging should emphasize how easy it is to get ahold of a CSR or highlight the robust tutorial library on your website.

Sometimes the things your customers value aren’t what your internal teams think is the big selling point of your product. That’s ok! You don’t have to abandon those talking points altogether. However, those points should, at least in most circumstances, take a back seat to the messages that speak directly to the values you discovered in your research.

Be Careful about Competing on Price

Even as inflation currently ticks down, cost is on everyone’s minds. But positioning yourself based on price has some distinct disadvantages.

For one, customers who are shopping for the lowest price do not tend to focus on value first, and tend not to be sensitive to comparative advantages of a product. They’re looking for someone to, proverbially, “do it cheaper.” So, if a competitor comes along and offers a slightly lower price, your current or potential customer is out the door even if your product is better. Your product might be a much, much better value than the strictly cheaper-up-front option, so make your messaging reflect the value of your product or you’ll be stuck cutting costs to compete.

Competing on price can lead to short-term success but long-term hardship. You’ll be stuck with low price points as the deciding factor when it comes to new product offerings or line extensions. This can stifle future growth for your company and leave you more vulnerable to developments from competitors.

The Power of Brand Positioning

One essential tool for your differentiation toolkit is a brand positioning statement. Think of this as a succinct mission statement for your product or company. A brand positioning statement is a carefully crafted phrase (in seven words or less) that describes the key aspects that make your product stand out. This also has the benefit of serving a dual purpose. Initial development of a brand positioning statement will force your team to find the essence of the “why” behind your product. And as you continue to market your product, you can return to your positioning statement over and over again as a guiding star to make sure you’re staying relevant to current and future customers rather than getting distracted by what others are doing.

Need some help making your product stand out? We’ve helped companies speak to their customers for over 30 years. Check out our case studies for more of our expertise.

Last edited: 2/9/2023