Positioning is the art of making your product stand out in the mind of your target buyer. According to Kotler, “the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market”. Essentially, how do you create a picture in your prospect’s mind, where there is “you” and then are these “others.” We will come up with an example OKR, that could be used as a starting point when you begin a new positioning exercise.
As you may know, positioning is one of the 4Ps of Marketing. With the explosion of the “# of ways” in which you and your mind can be reached, positioning has become an even more difficult and important aspect of your go to market strategy. We get exposed to 5,000 advertisements every day. So segmenting, targeting, and positioning are even more critical.
Positioning plays a key role in the buying process. You have to find a space in your target’s mind and firmly seat yourself. If you don’t get your positioning right, you have a high likelihood of failing. Great positioning doesn’t guarantee success, but poor positioning guarantees failure. Customers are doing their best to compare you versus your competitors. If you do not help them, they’ll position it with the help of your competitors. And you know how that’ll turn out to be.
Before coming up with the Product Positioning OKRs, let’s understand the process of positioning for context. In our exercise, we’ll be executing the following four steps:
The objective for this OKR is “Establish positioning for Product X”
Clear, concise and also meaningful product positioning helps you to block the unrelenting noise your competitors in the marketplace and enter into the minds of your target buyers. Once you are there, your target can interpret your messages in the context of your positioning.
There are several different ways to go about a positioning exercise. Popular approaches are:
- Attribute positioning.
- Chevron with Techron
- Benefit positioning.
- “Zero Emission” by Tesla
- Uses or application positioning
- Impossible Burgers sold across restaurants
- User positioning
- L.L.Bean for the people who love the outdoors
- Competitor positioning
- Best run companies run SAP
- Product category positioning
- BMW, the ultimate driving machine
- Price – quality positioning
At the end of a good positioning exercise you would be able to get a perceptual map that clearly shows where you are versus your competitors when compared across the two key criteria. For example you can create a map with price and ease of use on the two axes.
To choose the best approach for your OKR, you may have to go through these steps:
So, our OKR with this first key result would look like this:
Product Positioning Strategy
Our goal is to create a place inside the minds of potential purchasers and be there at the top of their mind when they are thinking about an acquisition. Good positioning makes you a contender. But great positioning gets you the deal. Great positioning must:
- Differentiate your product from competition
- Address the crucial requirements of the “job to be done” for your prospects
- Highlight the features and qualities of your product
A simple and extremely successful product positioning strategy is attribute positioning, which showcases a collection of attributes about your product that adequately sets you apart from your competition. Your competition should never be able to claim your unique combination of attributes/features.
How do you go about the positioning exercise?
To achieve near perfect positioning, you should have a deep understanding of the three pillars of psychological placement:
- How do your target personas make their buying decisions?
- How does your competition position their products?
- How does your product compare with your competition’s?
These three pillars go hand in hand. You cannot claim mastery over just two and think all is well. Inadequate or improper understanding of all the three pillars is the worst inputs to your positioning exercise and you can imagine how the output will be.
So, what are the typical steps in coming up with your product positioning using the attribute positioning approach?
- Understand your target market
- Analyze your competitors
- Map buying criteria against the top 5 competitors
- Assess yourselves against the buying criteria
- Position yourself
Understand your target market
Let’s start by creating personas. For B2B products, you’ll need both the target account personas as well as the target buyer personas. You start with the hypotheses around personas and validate that by going direct those and talking to them.
Typical questions to ask:
- What are the “jobs” expected to be done by your product?
- What product features are of value? List down the Must haves, Should haves and Nice to haves?
- How will their work life or life in general be better once they start using your product? Can they itemize those benefits?
- What are your current customers telling you about your product’s impacts?
- What are their buying processes? Is it different by deal size?
Once you have enough data, tabulate your analysis in this form:
Analyse your competitors
Survey your market thoroughly. Not just where your competitors currently are, but what happened historically. What worked for them in the past? What didn’t work? Identify 3-5 competitors that you want to go after. See how they message, acquire, service, and retain their customers. Understand their cost structure, and consequently their ability to compete on price.
Also understand their key values and business processes, especially those that are customer impacting.
Map purchasing criteria versus the competitive landscape.
Using the analyses in steps 1 & 2, we can cross tabulate buying criteria against the competitors we analyzed and understand how they fare against our target customer’s buying criteria:
It’s possible that more than one player is vying for the same spot in the positioning game. Leaders usually are well placed on the top purchasing requirements. Some players may be occupying multiple positions, by excelling in multiple clusters of buying requirements. There may be some purchasing requirements that are completely left out by the top players and that may be our opportunity.
Once you stare at the matrix, try to get to the next level. Try the 5 whys analysis and see if you can get to the bottom of what you observe. For example, some of the criteria not being met doesn’t mean it is an opportunity right away. They may be left out for a reason. Getting a deeper understanding will ensure you position yourselves much better.
Assess yourselves against the buying criteria
Based on your conversations with customers and prospects, you should have a good idea about the “jobs to be done” for them, using your product. And also where your product provides the greatest value for them.
Now, let’s extend the matrix from the previous step and see how our product is performing against the same buying criteria.
Look for opportunities where you start, scale and be extremely successful. Remember, seemingly vacant positions, may be vacant for a reason. If there are no viable positioning opportunities for you to be uniquely positioned somewhere, you should think about going after an existing player.
Once you do that, you should cross-check your product and the capabilities to deliver successfully. Also, validate your assumptions if you’ve made some. Expect your competitions response and potential reactions. What if they reduce their price in half? What if they overspend on advertising? Can you handle those?
It would be great, not always possible, for you to fly under the competition’s radar for as long as you can. Once you establish yourself in a defined niche within your target market, you can look for expansion opportunities.
So, our OKR with this second key result would look like this:
Establish Content Inventory
We need to understand what content is at our disposal and how they fit into our positioning strategy. We need to translate what we do, and our understanding of how it solves a customer’s problems into a coherent message to the target customer.
These are the steps we would be taking to get our content inventory established.
So, our OKR with this third key result would look like this:
Execute Content Plan
Once you have your content inventory, we have to determine gaps and get the content inventory updated. While we do that, we can also go through the content plan and start pushing the message to our target customers.
We’ll follow these steps for our content plan exercises:
So, our OKR with this fourth key result would look like this:
This is a good way to start a positioning exercise using OKRs. There will obviously be nuances and we’ll leave it to you to come up with your own versions from here.