Market positioning – why are competitors a good thing?

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When it comes to finding your position in the market, competition is a good thing. It not only helps us to up our game, but it also provides useful insight into where our proposition sits in the market.

We’ve got a three-step process for embracing the competition and then using what you’ve learnt to help with your market positioning.

Marketing positioning step one – competitor analysis

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It all starts with doing a competitor analysis. If you know what’s happening out there, you can be strategic and decide where you sit in the market. If you take a structured approach you can then easily compare your various competitors.

The main factors to consider are:

  • Target audience – Exactly who is it that’s being targeted? You can start by using demographics (age, gender, background and any other defining characteristics that are important). Then move on to considering what motivates the target audience and their needs.
  • Value proposition – Where are your competitors positioned in the market? Consider if they are premium, mid-range or bargain basement. In addition, look at how they articulate the value of what they offer, as well as what problem the product/service is solving.
  • Branding – Consider both the visual identity (logo, typeface and colour palette) and the brand strategy. Look at brand purpose (what they stand for), values (the personality behind the brand) and tone of voice (what they say in their marketing messages).
  • Social media activity – Take note of what social channels they are on. How often do they post, what do they post and how much engagement do they get?
  • Reviews and customer testimonials – Perhaps most importantly, see what customers say about their product/service. This gives a great insight into how they are meeting customer needs.

Competitor analysis is a great way of understanding the market you’re in. Once you’ve looked at your main competitors, you can plot out the market and see the bigger picture.

It also provides another perspective on meeting customer needs. That said, it does come with a health warning. If you focus just on this, it could get a bit overwhelming. And so, here is where step two comes in.

Marketing positioning step two – don’t be defined by the competition

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Once you know what your competitors are up to and you have a good understanding of what the overall market looks like, you can start thinking about where you sit in it. The trick here is to be aware of what your competitors are doing, but not to be defined by them.

After all that competitor analysis, that might sound like it’s easier said than done. But, if you spend some time focusing on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you’ll soon find that there’s a lot to take into consideration. You can look at the same areas you explored in step one.

Ask similar questions about what you’re doing:

  • Target audience
    – Who are you targeting and why?
    – What are the defining characteristics of this audience?
    – What’s the customer need you’ve identified?
  • Value proposition
    – How do you meet the customer need you’ve identified?
    – What’s the main thing you want your target audience to remember?
    – How do you articulate your value proposition in just a sentence or two?
  • Branding
    – What is your brand purpose? What are your brand values?
    – How are these represented in your visual identity (logo, typeface and colour palette)?
    – How does your tone of voice represent your brand purpose and values?
  • Social media activity
    – What social channels are you on and why?
    – How often do you speak to your audience?
    – What do you say and what sort of responses do you get?
  • Reviews and customer satisfaction
    – What type of reviews are you getting?
    – How are you promoting customer testimonials?
    – What feedback are you getting on your customer service?

This is by no means a list of exhaustive questions, but it’s a great starting point. The answers you get will lead you on to ask more questions, which will be even more specific.

Taking this approach, will result in a really detailed understanding of your current market positioning. You can then compare where you’re at against your competitors. You can then decide if you’re happy with where you sit or if you want to make any changes.

Marketing positioning step three – find your super skill 

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Once you’re happy with where you sit in the market, you can start thinking about how you stand out. The good news here is that it’s highly likely everybody is doing what they’re doing in a slightly different way. And so, if you really consider the way you’re doing things, this is where you can get some competitive advantage.

You might have competitors with a similar market positioning and target audience. On the surface, this seems to be a bit of a challenge. But there’s more good news here, as consumers like to have options and something that’s a good fit for one person might not work for another.

This is where finding your super skill comes into the mix. What is it that you’re really, really good or even great at? If you can identify this, you can build your reputation based around it and could even work it into your brand.

We did just this when we helped The Escapologist escape rooms expand to the ultimate entertainment destination of Xscape Yorkshire.

We created their ‘Escape from the everyday to the extraordinary’ brand strapline, which focuses on the mysterious escape room world they’ve created.

The strapline brought together three key elements:

  • Immersive experience – Their escape rooms take you to another world where you are frozen in time or become a secret service agent on a mission to save the world from evil.
  • Escaping the real world – This little piece of insight (or gem of wisdom) was a key building block. We realised that everyone has something in their everyday life they want to escape from whether it’s the commute or school run, the chores around the house or their never ending ‘to do list’.
  • It’s not just about escaping the room – The experience is about venturing into another world and escaping reality for a bit. And, yes of course, the aim of the game is to escape, but if you don’t solve all of the clues in the allotted time all is not lost as there’s a lot more going on.

Want to know more? You can see how market positioning was central to The Escapologist’s Xscape Yorkshire launch campaign. It included social media activity, web content, emails and old school printed materials. We even created passports to a mysterious escape room world!

Our work for The Escapologist reached over 160,000 people in seven weeks. This in turn resulted in weekends being booked up in advance and a third escape room being added within three months of them opening.

Market positioning – a quick summary

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As usual, we’ve boiled down this Marketing Nugget on why competition is a great thing to just three bullet points so that it’s easy to digest:

  • Competitor analysis – If you know what’s happening out there, you can take a strategic approach and decide/sense check where you sit in the market.
  • Don’t be defined by the competition – It’s all about being aware of what your competitors are up to, but then focusing on what you’re doing and why.
  • Find your super skill – Identify what it is you’re really, really good at and build your brand and reputation based around this.

Looking for some help?

If you need support with marketing, whether it be market positioning, branding or marketing activity, just give us a shout. We can have a chat over a coffee underneath the space rocket in our office.

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Thanks for reading

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If the answer is yes, please just give Sarah a shout – we’d be happy to have a chat over a coffee (or even a beer). We’re super friendly and straight talking – there’s no marketing mumbo jumbo here!

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