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Tracy Williams Prince column: Focus on what makes you different to stand out

7:57 PM, Mar. 15, 2013  |  Comments
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To remain competitive, businesses need to differentiate themselves from the competition. Sometimes it's obvious, but many times businesses offer the same products, have similar locations, and have identical pricing. So what makes you different? Why would a consumer choose to visit your business over the competition? That's why it's important to identify what it is your business stands for and define how that fits into the competitive landscape. Internally, this document often takes the shape of a positioning statement or positioning strategy.

A positioning statement is is a succinct description of the core target audience to whom a business is directed, and a description of how the business would like to be viewed. The statement typically includes: your target audience, your product and category, the specific benefit of doing business with you, and what makes you different from the competition.

The target audience is simply who are you directing your message to. It doesn't make sense to just direct a message to everyone. It's simply not affordable and to those who will never use your product or service the message will be wasted. Do your research and identify who are the heavy users of your product and service. Knowing the demographics of the audience that is most likely to purchase your product or service can help you pinpoint your message, direct your media buy, and result in a more effective marketing strategy.

The specific benefit of your business can be difficult to pinpoint if you offer the same products as your competition. Many professionals will suggest businesses make a list of all the things they do well. Then, make a list of what your target audience wants and needs from businesses in your category. This may require some research from trade associations, published studies, or by talking to your current customers. Utilize your resources to be sure the benefit you identify means something to your target audience. Once you find what your audience wants that you are doing well you can capitalize on it.

What makes you different from the competition is the most important element of the positioning strategy. Identifying why a consumer should buy from you versus the competition may be easy to pinpoint but hard to market. Find that one differentiator that fills your target audiences need and fills the gap in the category and you will have a strong positioning strategy.

Remember, the positioning statement is an internal document that can be used to drive your messaging strategies and future marketing campaigns. Consistently referring to your positioning strategy and staying true to your statement will help you grow a stronger and more recognizable brand. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone knew what made your business different?

- Tracy Williams-Prince is the marketing manager for Express Convenience Centers, a division of U.S. Venture Inc. She can be reached at TWilliams-Prince@usoil.com.

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