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How To Position Your Brand And Beat the Competition
how to position your brand

The business world is a competitive place, especially in the time of digital marketing. Throw a virtual stone in any direction and you’re almost guaranteed of hitting another business that is similar to yours, right?

Add to that the fact that we’re all fighting for the attention of consumers who have increasingly smaller attention spans, and you can start to wonder how you’ll ever make your business heard.

But don’t get discouraged! You are totally capable of standing out in a busy environment. The trick lies in how you position your brand in the minds of your ideal audience.

Position yourself in a way that sets you apart from competitors and establishes you as a go-to in your category and your business will thrive.

You don’t need million dollar ad budgets or giant marketing agencies to achieve this type of success. All you need is a little creativity and some marketing know-how to start dominating your competitive landscape too. And we’re going to show you how.

First thing’s first – what does it mean to position your brand?

Positioning is a marketing strategy that determines where your business fits in its competitive landscape. It starts with defining what it is that makes you unique and then using that uniqueness to help channel demand for what you offer.

By staking your position in your market, you communicate to your audience the essence of who your brand is and the value that it brings to the table. This helps them understand the kind of experience they can expect from you and why they should choose you over everyone else.

Strong positioning can help grow your busines in several ways, not the least of which are:

  • Finding and connecting with your ideal audience more effectively
  • Gaining lifelong fans instead of just one-time customers
  • Charging more for your products and services because you’re competing on value, not on price

Identifying your unique positioning

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to make your business stand out, start by identifying the unique selling point of your brand. What is it that makes your business or product different from everyone else?

You ever heard the expression, “Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons”?

Well, what is it about your business that makes it the flamingo among all the other businesses like it?

If you’re struggling a bit with this, you’re not alone. A lot of business owners get tripped up here. They assume their differentiator needs to be something big and flashy, like they need to invent something totally new in order to truly stand out and see success.

But you can position yourself on anything, from the vibe of your brand to the style of your products, your brand identity to how you source your materials. And I’ll let you in on a little secret – it could be something that your competitors are doing too, but not even talking about!

Here are some examples to help you start noodling:

  • Allbirds differentiates itself from other athletic shoe companies by focusing on sustainability (values and product)
  • Amazon differentiates itself from other mass retailers by simplifying the user experience (customer service)
  • Jeni’s differentiates itself from other ice cream shops by using funkier flavors and ingredients (product ingredients)
  • Aerie differentiates itself from other athleisurewear retailers by pushing body positivity (values and mission)

The key ingredients to good positioning

When identifying your position in your market, there are three key ingredients to keep in mind – your ideal audience, your offer and capabilities, and your competition.

Your ideal audience

The group of people that you want to connect with, or serve. The more specific you can be about your ideal audience, the better off you’ll be. This will help you focus on who they are, what they need or want from businesses like yours, and what kind of experiences and value they’re looking for.

Your offer/capabilities

This is what your business brings to the table, generally in the form of a product or service. But it could incorporate everything from your materials to your process, your customer service to how your brand is communicated.

Is there something specific about what you offer that makes it different from what everyone else is offering? Do you have access to exclusive information or resources that no one else does, giving you the edge over them? Maybe you’re just really good problem solvers, or excellent communicators, or faster movers. It can be anything that adds value for your target audience.

You should also read: 5 Simple Secrets to Writing Better Marketing Copy that Actually Converts

Your competition

These are businesses that serve a similar audience to you with similar products and services. But they aren’t you. You are different. You are better. You just have to identify how.

In order for your positioning to be really good, it needs to include all three ingredients:

  • It needs to be something your audience wants, needs, or values.
  • It needs to be something that you actually offer or could deliver on.
  • It needs to be something that your competition either doesn’t offer, doesn’t offer as well, or doesn’t claim to offer.

Write out your positioning statement or USP (unique selling point)

Your positioning statement should connect with your audience by speaking directly to their needs and concerns. A great way to convey this is with a unique selling point, or USP for short.

Think of it as your value proposition, but specifically in the context of how you’re different from your competition.

It should be relevant to your niche, unique enough that it separates you from the rest of the pack, easy to understand, something that aligns with your vision, mission and values – but also addresses what your audience is looking for.

And just like all of your messaging, positioning should be flexible over time to stay current with your changing business needs.

Your USP is not really a slogan, so it it doesn’t need to include a bunch of jargon. Think of it more like a promise.

There are lots of ways to write your unique selling proposition. But here are some of our favorite templates to use:

We {service verb} {your ideal audience} {what you help them do} with/by {how you or your product helps them do it} so they can {outcome they achieve} without {primary pain point they avoid}.

Example: We guide creative small business owners to marketing success so they can grow impactful businesses without the overwhelm.

OR

We create/build/offer/etc. {unique descriptor}{product/service that you offer} for {your ideal audience} that helps them achieve {desired outcome}/makes them feel {desired emotion} without {primary pain point they want to avoid}.

Example: We create sustainable boho jewelry for the fashion forward mama that makes them feel stylish and luxurious without the hefty price tag.

Embody your positioning

You can position yourself all you want, but if it doesn’t come through in every single aspect of your business, no one is going to buy in on it. When it comes to your positioning, you need to talk the talk AND walk the walk.

For instance, in the above example, this business is positioning itself as a sustainable, affordable, boho style jewelry brand for moms. They now need to deliver on that positioning. They can’t suddenly start offering neon colored purses, because that doesn’t align with their USP.

Likewise, if they send their sustainable jewelry in an excess of boxes and bubble wrap, they’re not exactly aligning with the sustainability portion of their USP, right?

Your brand positioning truly becomes the heart of your business – and it should be reflected in everything you do.

You have to own your position in your market, not just lay claim to it.

If you make promises, make sure you keep them. If you talk about how great your customer service is (and consider yourself a truly customer-oriented business), then make sure every single interaction with a client delivers on that promise.

Incorporate it into your marketing

Remember at the beginning when we provided that definition of positioning: “It starts with defining what it is that makes you unique and then using that uniqueness to help channel demand for what you offer.”

Now that you’ve identified what makes you unique and you’re leaning into it, the next step is channeling demand for it. Which requires telling people about it!

When it comes to incorporating your positioning statement or USP into your marketing plan, go all in. It’s versatile and powerful, meaning it can do a lot for you if you let it.

A couple ideas:

  • Add it to your social media bios with a few emojis.
  • Put it on your business cards.
  • Use it as the introductory message in the hero section of your website, or in the sidebar of your blog, or in your website footer.
  • Break it into parts and use those parts to outline the content pillars for your content strategy. Like in our boho jewelry example above, you could have a sustainability pillar, a boho style pillar, a jewelry pillar, and a fashion forward mom pillar. And boom, you have the beginnings of your content strategy.

But it doesn’t just stop there! Positioning can be used to help guide content, product development, your sales team – it’s really all-encompassing. But they key thing to remember is it’s not enough for you to know your positioning statement. Make sure everyone who comes in contact with your business knows about it too!

Ready to create an effective positioning statement that will help you stand out from your competition?

I can’t wait to hear what yours is!

hi there!

I’m Morgan – Chicago native, coffee addict, and unapologetic marketing nerd.  I help passionate small business owners nail their marketing and brand strategies so they can grow the successful, impactful business of their dreams.

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