positioning your business for post COVID-19
“Every business that serves the needs of its customers deserve growth and profitability – and as much as profitability is a necessity, they must strategically position themselves for it. They must tailor their services to fit the target market; they must be recognisable from their competitors, and be credible amid any pandemic” – Harmony Attise, CEO Commec Group.
The coronavirus surge has affected millions of businesses, but the market remains very competitive and businesses need to break barriers to get their businesses under the spotlight and target customers. The challenges for businesses to stand out to serve real needs is a big task. This means businesses have to identify what makes their products and services special and unique in times like thse. The standards are high, and meeting them is crucial for survival.
Positioning is a necessary evil for every business’ success. It keeps businesses on their toes to keep delivering and making positive impacts apart from making the bucks. Positioning is also a motivational drive for businesses to revisit their goals, visions, strategies to rebuild and fill up the gaps.
First, Let’s take a look at consumer markets to get a better take of ‘positioning’
It has become crucial that businesses assess their current market position, the value of their offerings and the reasons for their existence. Our everyday life is a competition. It cannot be avoided. The idea of becoming better than another is a good motivation for change, consistency and betterment. Other businesses are providing the same products and services within the same demographics, at the same price and value with similar packaging and branding. The underlying core issue is what makes you special? Why should the consumer buy from you?
Each time you buy a product or service, you are participating in the consumer market. Whether you’re picking up groceries for the week, visiting the shop to buy some fashionable clothes for a new job or paying to get your car washed, you are part of this large system called the consumer market.
A common path to running a successful business is to find your consumer markets, identify your consumers’ needs, map their characteristics and establish your business as a compelling brand, product, and service in those markets. How can businesses influence their existing markets, identify their consumer markets; perceive the ‘new normal’ consumer markets and needs, and adequately recreate value for their consumer groups; and eventually re/capture existing and potential markets?
Five sure ways to influence your consumer markets to effectuate positioning
- Re-identify your consumer characteristics
I can guarantee you this will not be a waste of resources. Consumer needs have severely been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also impacted general consumer behaviour. Hence, re-identifying your consumer characteristics is going to be a win for the money. Sample this information about the ‘new normal’ consumer markets to give you a fair idea of what has changed about the people you want to sell to, or used to sell to.
- Develop products and services which define your consumers
Now that you have an idea of what your consumer markets will appreciate in the crisis, you can now tailor your products and services to resonate with their needs. You will have a compelling solution to their problems.
- Be specific
Be guided by the characteristics which define your consumer markets and the consumers you want to target. You can’t serve all the market’s needs simultaneously. When you recognise this, you will avoid the risk of exhausting resources and time, and confusing your consumers.
Targetting a particular characteristic, such as age under a demographic, isn’t specific enough. Be specific; e.g. face masks for adults from 30 – 50 years etc. Being specific may narrow your market consumers but will effectively meet your market target.
- Be Focused
Identifying who your target consumer groups are makes it easier to be focused on their specific needs. Businesses must remember to clarify what they want to sell, so that consumers can get a vivid picture to inform their choices. If the goal is to influence an existing market and match up to competition, you have to be focused on that.
- Be consistent
Consistency is key. Nobody trusts products and services which cannot sustain their span. Consistency not only drives profitability, but also drives loyalty and trust. Consumers love products, services and goods that have an identity, maintain quality and standards. Therefore, it’s paramount to maintain the drive, upgrade and add more value whenever necessary to keep your consumer markets active and increase sales and profits.
Now, let’s focus on how to position your business
Positioning is a marketing concept introduced by Jack Trout, and then later by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their bestselling book ‘Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind’. Down through many decades, several definitions have been given by marketing gurus and textbooks – let’s indulge in a little classroom lesson here. One such definition is: ‘Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect’ – Al Ries and Jack Trout in Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind.
Business positioning is a vital key to success. Many companies do not critically examine their next phase of growth. Companies must define their markets, identify their targets, tailor their services or products, and properly communicate their brand to their customers. Businesses often make the mistake of hanging in the loop for other opportunities to hit big jackpots and make profits without any strategic preparation for any positioning whatsoever – until a crisis like the coronavirus affects their productivities.
Consumers are your best critics. They are always right – this dimension makes you think with them in mind. They know exactly what differs from what and what is not, what their problems are; and hence resort to the best solutions companies make available to them. They are highly descerning and also understand the markets; therefore, companies must create a memorable value of what they should perceive of their products and services in their minds.
Effectively positioning your business
Clearly, business positioning already defines a company as a standing problem-solver that has identified one more possibility to improve solutions and make them compelling against its competitors. Reassigning the best team, adding value and improving products and services, re-communicating the brand and the work it set out to do is important when it comes to positioning. There are millions of businesses out there adding sparks to their existing markets every day – there are too many for the prospective customers to remember, so create some magic.
Being dynamic is good and ideal, but being remarkable is what sets you apart.
To know how effectively you have positioned your business, these are a few questions in the minds of customers you need to have answers for.
- What does your business do for them – how will it improve now?
- What makes your business different from the others – are you adding any more value?
- How does your business solve their problems in the crisis – business continuation or a shift in redirection?
- Is your business adding anything new – supplementary services?
Positioning requires that businesses take customers’ current needs with their previous expectations into account, assessing the quality of what they provide while considering the competition. Having effectively positioned your business, existing and prospective customers should easily identify with your brand and re-identify with your services.
You should also need to analyse the following:
- Whether it’s clear who should purchase, what they should purchase and why they should.
- If you substitute a competitor, is it still compelling?
- Does the point of differentiation link to the buyer’s goals?
- Does it resonate with your customers’ new normal perceptions?
The first step in positioning business is to understand these four market types:
- Existing market, newmarket
- Re-segmentation of an existing market
- Re-segmentation of an existing market by employing a niche strategy
- The category into which a business recreates its services and products to fall depends on the business’ competitive strategy.
Steps to positioning your business
Start-up positioning as I described above is a key to start-up growth and success; even moreso when you find yourself in a crowded market and in very highly competitive markets.
A brief look at some of the steps:
Re-define your market
To build your business, you must re-evaluate your target/market to determine the changes in your existing markets. Re-defining a market allows a business to re-focus, be more specific, and channel resources and energy to markets more likely to continue buying from them. Given the current economic conditions, having a well-defined target market is imperative to staying in business.
Re-develop your service/product
What was your business offering? What problems did it solve? Your offering should be tailored to your target. It must be unique and different from the existing ones. It must be superior. It must be communicable as earlier noted, and visible to prospects; must also be affordable, not highly-priced above the competition; and must be profitable to the business as well.
Re-identify the attributes
What previously made your business and/or service different? What made it remarkable? What were its best features and how best did it resonate with the user? Improve on those attributes to suit the current consumer need
Collect prospects’ perceptions
It’s very important for your ‘offering’ (products/services/brand) to be approved by your markets. It creates room for improvements and is tailored with the targets in mind.
>>>The writer is the CEO of Commec Group, a business development consultancy. She is a multiple award-winning Business Development Consultant and a Writer. For business and engagements: [email protected] / www.commec.group