How different are you from your competitors?  That’s a question you probably get asked a lot by prospective customers. They want to understand how your product offerings and services stack up against competitive options.

So how do you differentiate your company? Your differentiation or market position is not the same as your brand, though the two are linked. Your brand, as I wrote about a few weeks ago in “Does your brand need a makeover?”, reflects your personality, values and ideas through visual as well as verbal and other sensory components. (Think jingle.) Your audiences identify your company with these brand associations.

Positioning incorporates the unique attributes that set your business apart from the competition. It also conveys how your products and/or services will answer the customer’s specific needs. 

To determine your market position, you need to know:

Who your target customers are: You may have a product or service offering that serves a range of customers, but consider who your best targets are. Age, income, geography all may factor in along with specific needs.  If you are in the midst of expanding or changing your offering, think about who you want to reach.

The competition: Learn as much as you can about the companies you come up against most often in new business. What are their products or services? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do they distribute and what is their pricing structure?

What sets you apart: Compare your offering against the competition to identify what sets you apart – experience, more product features or better customer service. Focus on those attributes only you can claim. As an example, your company offers the most cost–effective pricing for a mid-market solution.

How you are currently perceived: You can’t create your positioning in a vacuum. Whether you are crafting your position for the first time, clarifying it or changing it to reflect a new direction, you need to know how the market currently perceives what you have to offer.

Once you have crafted your position – which you should be able to communicate in one or two sentences – make sure you communicate it consistently in all your web and written materials and new business presentations.

There’s a saying in business, if you don’t position your company, the marketplace will. You don’t want to leave your positioning to chance and certainly not to the competition


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