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By Noel Peebles

Clear positioning is critical for any product or service, whether new or existing. Without clear positioning it is hard to find or establish a Unique Buying Advantage (UBA).

The first thing to consider when working on your positioning strategy is the question "where do you come in first?" Then consider what key benefits you offer over your competitors. If you don't already know what your customers think about your business, do some quick research to find out.

What's the ONE WORD or phrase that comes to mind when customers think of your business? Is it service, price, selection, convenience, quality or something else? Do you really "own" that word or phrase in the customer's mind? Does it reflect the position you want?

If you can't think of that ONE WORD or phrase, then maybe you're trying to be all things to all people. Narrow the focus. You can't stand for something if you chase after everything.

As an example here are two "highly focused" websites featuring "highly focused" products:
These successful sites avoid the usual temptations to directly link with other sites, products or services.

Positioning is the marketing tool that helps prospects and customers identify what's unique about your product or service and your company. This enables you to turn your positioning into creative advertising.

Use your positioning to give your advertising purpose, to give it a message, and to give it the appropriate tone. Then and only then, are you on your way to developing a good advertising strategy. Do that well and you'll save money - and make money!

Positioning will guide you to make sensible decisions about when and where to advertise, and what message to communicate. It will help you with targeting and also help you identify what benefits you are selling.

The advertising will also need to project your business' personality. Is it serious, fun or classy - positioning will help you decide. Armed with an advertising strategy, you are now ready to develop a creative idea - one that will dramatize that single-minded benefit or Unique
Buying Advantage (UBA).

So, if you want to motivate customers to do business with you instead of your competitors then the answer is to clarify your positioning and find a UBA - one that you and you alone own.

Your UBA becomes the single most important factor that drives your business, your customers, your staff and most importantly, yourself!

Let's face it, if you make a great promise to the market place, you have to back it up and so does your staff. Your UBA becomes the rudder. Once you and your staff know and understand your UBA, decision making, tactics and strategies become a piece of cake. Simply, if it doesn't fit the UBA, you don't do it.

The message in all this is simple: market positioning is critically important and perception is everything.

Okay, if perception is so important, then where does pricing fit into all this?

Let me give you an example - a week or so ago, I was exploring a suburban shopping center when I decided to get a loaf of bread for lunch. As I walked along the street I came to a supermarket. Then across the road, I spotted a little bakery. So, off I trundled to the bakery, "A wholegrain loaf please."

I had committed to buying the loaf just by walking in the door.

Price was not important in my buying decision, something else was. That 'something else' was perception. Your customers' perception of you can be more important than your price.

Why did I choose the little bakery over the supermarket - perception! I perceived that the quality would be better. But, who's to say that the supermarket didn't have a product equally as good as, if not better than, the little bakery.

So could it be that by focusing too much on price, we set up an expectation of a lack of quality in the customers mind? And could it be that by focusing too much on price, we create the impression that our service might be suspect? Absolutely!

People don't always buy based on the lowest price, but they do like to feel they're getting a good deal. If your aim is to give your customers value for their money... then your asking PRICE should represent the VALUE customers place on your product or service. If the price asked for doesn't feel right, in relation to the value delivered, customers are not going to buy.

If the customer thinks that what you are offering them isn't worth much, then how can you ever hope to charge a high price?

You can't!

The key is to communicate the VALUE message. And, you must communicate it so strongly that the price seems reasonable in relation to the product or service you're offering.

Here's a good example - another business I own, is a public self-storage complex. In many ways it will be similar to storage operations in your local area. Self-storage is becoming a common site in most towns. In fact, within a 5km radius, I have seven competitors. They have one thing in common - they all advertise by promoting either price or security.

However, although I do promote the benefits of good security, I never mention the rental price in any of my marketing. Why would I, when my prices are around 40% higher than anyone else? And, how can I have occupancy levels of more than 90% and still charge a premium price?

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Simple really! I run long copy advertisements packed with testimonials from satisfied customers. These advertisements focus on the benefits associated with my two important unique buying advantages (UBA's). What are these UBA's?

My storage complex is the only one locally that can truly 100% guarantee dry, secure, "worry-free" storage. Why? Because my storage complex is the only one with two roofs over every unit (having two roofs reduces the risk of leaks and condensation build-up). My complex is the only one with 176 security sensors monitored 24 hours. Notice how specific the number is - not just "security sensors"... but "176 security sensors." None of my competitors can make the same claims. With the help of highly focused advertising those UBA's and the associated benefits now belong to my company. My customers know it - and that is why they are happy to pay 40% more, for what they perceive to be, truly "worry-free" storage.

So, what really matters is your pricing policy and how you communicate price to your potential market. Should you offer a discount? Should you feature the price boldly? Should you introduce the price early in the offer? These are important questions because without realizing may be educating your customers to give price their primary consideration. That may not be your intention, but like it or not, that's what often happens. The customer becomes price sensitive and then ...SURPRISE! SURPRISE! ... A competitor comes along with an even lower price and you lose a customer.

Ask yourself - Does it feel right?

It doesn't matter what you charge. It is the customers' perception of your price that matters. If the customer thinks the price is too high in relation to the value delivered for the product or service, then they won't buy. If they think the price is too low, then again they might not buy - because, they may be suspicious of the quality in relation to the price. The price may not feel right.

A customer perception of what is a 'reasonable price' is more important than what you want to charge for your product or service. And the customer decides what's reasonable based on perceived value for money, not price. It's creating this perception of value that tells the customer the price is right.

I'm a firm believer that, in the long term, it's always better to add perceived value to your product rather than reduce your prices.

Customers are smarter these days, have more disposable income and have more choice than ever before. The key to making the sale is to communicate VALUE! Do it so strongly... that the price seems reasonable in relation to the product or service you're offering.

© Copyright Noel Peebles, Market Leaders Ebooks.

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