Learn how to position your product in the market

Last week we discussed about Market targeting. We saw that mass marketing is no longer considered effective for most businesses in today’s world of differentiated consumer marketplace. Therefore, most companies no longer tend to generalize the market, but instead they slice it into a number of different, narrowly-defined groups, and then choose the groups to which they aim to sell their products or services.

In today’s topic we are going to discuss about Product positioning. In general, product positioning is defined as the process marketers use to determine how to best communicate their products’ attributes to their target customers based on customer needs, competitive pressures, available communication channels and carefully crafted key messages. Effective product positioning ensures that marketing messages resonate with target consumers and compel them to take action.

Product positioning therefore, involves efforts to influence consumer perception of a brand or product relative to the perception of competing brands or products, it helps to  create a positive perception and preferred position in the eyes of the public towards that product.

If a product is well positioned, it will have strong sales, and may become the go-to brand for people who need that particular product. Poor positioning, on the other hand, can lead to bad sales and a dubious reputation.

Product positioning process

Product positioning is a tricky process. It is a continuous process requiring constant observation. MSMEs adopting product positioning strategies need to see how consumers perceive their product, and how differences in presentation can impact perception.

As defined above, positioning is the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization. Then re-positioning involves changing that identity of a product, relative to the identity of competing products, in the collective minds of the target market.

Effective product positioning requires a clear understanding of customer needs so that the right communication channels are selected and key messages will resonate with customers. Product positioning starts with identifying specific, niche market segments to target — not just women over 25 but women from 25 to 30 who work in senior-level management positions, who make X Shs per year, who are single and enjoy sporting activities. The more specific, the better.

In addition to identifying the customer based on demographic and psychographic (personality/lifestyle) attributes, marketers need to understand customer needs, especially relative to the products and services they have to offer, to clearly convey value as part of their marketing plan.

Generally, the product positioning process involves:

  1. Defining the market in which the product or brand will compete (who the relevant buyers are)
  2. Identifying the attributes (also called dimensions) that define the business product ‘space’.
  3. Collecting information from a sample of customers about their perceptions of each business product on the relevant attributes
  4. Determine each business product’s share of mind
  5. Determine each product’s current location in the business product space
  6. Determine the target market’s preferred combination of attributes
  7. Examine the fit between:
  • The position of your product
  • The position of the target market’s preferred combination of attributes

It is important to note that for the MSME to achieve sustained growth there is need to create an impact in the target market. Creating an image in the minds of customers helps in creating loyalty to products or services being offered.

Product positioning helps marketers consider how their offerings are different from others that consumers have to choose from. But it is not enough to know this from an internal perspective — marketers must communicate this to the target audiences. To do this effectively, they must choose communication channels that are designed to connect with their identified target audiences at times when they will be most receptive to these messages.

Conveying the differentiating, value-added aspects of your product or service to your target audience through the communication channels you have selected is also another key element to consider. These messages are designed to convey how your product is different (and better) than competitive offerings, as well as to address the value-added attributes that are important to your audience. Product positioning is at the foundation of any effective marketing plan because it impacts the ultimate purchase decision.

Who is a supervisor?

Supervisor is a manager at the first level of management, which means the employees reporting to the supervisors are not managers. Operational Supervisor is tasked to ensure that the business is meeting its’ goals. He/she also ensures that employees are performing their jobs so they will contribute a share of the accomplishment of goals. Operational Supervisor oversees daily business problems and goals.

Supervisor should possess the following skills:

  • Management Skills
  • Technical Skills
  • Human Relation Skills
  • Idea developing Skills
  • Decision Making Skills

General Function of a supervisor includes the following

Planning – this involves drawing up plans of actions that combine unity, continuity, flexibility and accuracy given the organization’s resources.

Staffing – it is performed by all managers depending upon the nature of business, size of the company, qualifications and skills of managers. In small companies, the top management generally performs this function. In medium and small scale enterprise, it is performed especially by the personnel department of that concern. Staffing helps in recruitment, selection, placement, training and development, providing remuneration.

Leading – this involves the social and informal sources of influence that you use to inspire action taken by others. It helps supervisors understand their subordinates’ personalities, values, attitudes, and emotions.

Controlling – this involves identifying performance weaknesses and errors by controlling feedback, and conforming activities to plans and instructions.

Responsibilities of a supervisor

Supervisor must be prepared for change as fast as their employees do. Supervisor must be accountable to business practice by imposing penalties for employees who fail to adequately carry out responsibilities and provide rewards for meeting expectations.

Tips for supervisors

Supervisor must be prepared for change as fast as their employees do.

Supervisor must be accountable to business practice by imposing penalties for employees who fail to adequately carry out responsibilities and provide rewards for meeting expectations.

Set limits on your behavior! No gossip participation.

Do not be a “rescuer”. Train employees to improve performance, do not do it for them.

Figure out how to measure success. Know when people are not on track to meet goals.

Communicate with everyone. Talk with each subordinate regularly.

Be firm. You will be tested on rules and standards.

Learn from others. Find other bosses who will share their wisdom. Seek people inside and outside the organization. Create a business network.

Prepared by Veneranda Sumila

Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF)

If you want more information about Business Management Tips and templates please visit http://enterpreneurs.or.tz/business-management/

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Grant Lee

    Hello Veneranda.
    Once again, you have written a very important message about positioning for MSME enterprises. The marketing mix is often overlooked by small to medium sized businesses and especially micro businesses that may be one or two people manufacturing and selling a garment, or preparing food for immediate consumption.

    The classic marketing mix comprised positioning, place, promotion and product – the 4 Ps. Now, especially for a service enterprise, we consider 7 Ps (positioning, place, promotion, product, people, physical evidence and processes). These are a fundamental marketing model for all businesses to understand and practise to be successful measured by making a profit. Without profit, a business cannot grow.

    Your blogs often address the marketing mix, and readers would benefit by paying attention to the blog messages of TPSF.

    This blog addresses positioning and supervisors – two different topics in my opinion. But both important messages.

    And you nailed the essence of positioning which is research and communications. Even a small micro business with no access to the Internet can survey customers and prospects with paper surveys that can be handed out and returned on site at time of purchase, or by speaking with a customer and asking the survey questions. A larger, more advanced small business may have access to email databases and the Internet and can carry our surveys using free software like “Survey Monkey.”

    And, yes, micro business owners and supervisors of larger businesses do need all the skills that you mentioned, and they can be learned – management, technical, human relations, idea development, and decision making/taking.

    Very informative blog. Thank you. I will share on my socmed sites. Grant Lee

    1. Veneranda Sumila

      Dear Grant, I am happy that you went through the story. It is very true that it addresses Positioning and Supervisor’s roles. I removed the ‘supervisor role’ on the heading because I aimed to make the heading short. I am not very good at headlines.
      I hope entrepreneurs in Tanzania read this story too.
      Thank you for the 7P’s approach. I really learn a lot from your comments.
      Stay Blessed

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