Pursuing the right marketing strategy for your business in 2011 requires a strong positioning statement

By Mark Wardell

In 2010, social media was the marketing breakthrough that took the world by storm. Cost effective, accessible, and for some businesses, statistically more effective than traditional advertising, social media marketing has proven to be a trend that isn’t going anywhere.

In fact, some big name companies out there (Pepsi, Ikea) have pulled back on traditional advertising in favour of amping up their presence on Twitter and Facebook. It has been rumoured that Oprah Winfrey employs three full time staff to respond to the Facebook posts she gets on a daily basis.

Indeed, there’s no doubt that 2010 brought us a new pace of communications in the social media realm. Which begs the question, what major marketing trends will 2011 bring, and how can your business make the most of them? My prediction: technology and social media will continue to provide new and valuable platforms for communicating with customers. However, now more than ever, companies will need to understand (and apply) the principles of marketing in order to be effective in the new spaces the future holds.

As a business owner, your principle objective is to find a way to let people know what you are offering and why they should buy from you, in the most engaging and effective way possible. In other words, you need a strong brand. To achieve this, consider the following two questions:
1. Why should people buy from your business, as opposed to any other business that sells similar products or services?

2. What's so unique about your business?

If you don't have specific answers to these two fundamental questions, or more importantly, if your customers and prospects don't have specific answers to these questions, you've got a problem. There is a solution, however, and it's called positioning. If you haven’t done so yet, I highly recommend spending some time defining yours.

Your marketing position is the relative location your business occupies in the mind of your prospects. When your prospective customers think of your business, do they consider you to be...
- the fastest

- the highest quality

- the most convenient

- the least expensive

- the most attentive

- the business with the best selection

Or do they just think of your business as one of many businesses of your type? Just one more place to go when they need your products or services?

An exercise in positioning will help your business stand out. When people think of Federal Express, for example, they don't just think of a courier, they think of a “guaranteed overnight delivery service.” At its inception, it was a boldly unique position. Sure, Federal Express did a lot of other things well, but they focused their marketing efforts on overnight service. Now, even though other businesses might make the same claim, in the mind of the marketplace, the position truly belongs to Federal Express.
That's the incredible power of positioning.

Your objective is to come up with a unique strategy that offers something of value to your market. Start by identifying the specific quality that makes you “number one” in the minds of your prospects and customers. This doesn't mean that you don't do other things well; this is simply a rallying point. Once you have identified your position, it becomes the marketing focus of your entire business.

Determining your unique position will require some careful consideration, some brainstorming and documentation. But I guarantee this is an invaluable exercise that will be well worth your time. The resulting document will be a guide that will see you through whatever trends arise in the coming year and beyond. By focusing on the quality of your position, customers new and old will keep coming back for more.

Mark is President & Founder of Wardell Professional Development (www.wardell.biz), an advisory group that helps business owners plan and execute the growth of their companies. The author of seven business books, Mark also writes regularly for several national business publications, including Profit Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and CGA Magazine. Email him at [email protected]

By Adam

January 14, 2011