Nothing feels worse than realizing your business has flatlined. Looking at numbers like that pretty much makes your heart want to do the same. Most often when businesses come to us for this reason (or because their marketing isn’t working the way they want it to), it’s because they haven’t properly defined their position in the market.
That was exactly the case for a client who came to us in the team building/coaching niche. What they had was interesting enough to get into a sales meeting with a client, but it wasn’t enough to close on the deals.
When we dug into the problem, unsurprisingly, their market positioning was the culprit.
They were saying exactly the same thing as everyone else in their niche, so they didn’t stand out in any way. On top of that, they’d completely missed the mark on what their clients wanted to hear. So, it made complete sense that they weren’t closing on their sales.
Market positioning can be a tricky little thing, because it combines various factors from three key elements:
- Your unique selling/serving points.
- Your competitors’ unique selling/serving points.
- The needs of your ideal client.
When you haven’t carved out your specific niche in the market, and clearly set yourself apart, you make yourself a commodity, which will absolutely flatline your sales and tank your profit margins.
We’ve written a great article about that on LinkedIn. Check out: Becoming a Commodity – How You’ve Unknowingly Stunted Your Growth to learn more.
Your market positioning, of course, has to start with you and what you do differently than your competitors. That runs a huge gamut of things from: vision, mission, values, customer service, products, internal culture, external culture, and so much more. When we do an Impact Assessment for our clients, we take at least five hours to go through this with their team. We mine for the real gems they often don’t even know they have, and they certainly don’t talk about.
This is exactly what we did for our team building/coaching client. What we found was that, unlike most team building courses, their programs actually created lasting change. And after we built a measurement system for them to prove that they did make lasting change, they were able to authenticate it with hard facts.
Because their programs solved communication issues and improved overall productivity, they could potentially put hundreds of thousands of dollars back on the bottom line. The cost of their most intensive program was peanuts compared to that!
But that wasn’t what they were talking about. Instead, their content focused on the kind of personality profiles they did, what was in their programs, how they ran them and their overall process.
They completely missed the actual value they delivered!
Sadly, that’s the case for the vast majority of businesses in the market. They focus on the surface stuff, squarely landing them in the commodity category.
Their content, online and offline, usually focuses on their process, which is NOT the reason anyone makes a purchase!
The research we did for one company, whose goal is to improve internal business culture by improving communication, is definitely information you need to know.
You have to get past all the things you usually say, and get to the really cool parts about your business that actually set you apart from everyone else. Which brings us to the next point.
In order to be in a niche all your own, you have to fully research your competitors. That means understanding their brand, brand voice, business model, and what they do to make people rave about them.
You have to define their offerings, so you can remove any similarities from your messaging and marketing.
Your messages have to be completely different than everyone else in your niche, in order to own your market position.
Then the final step, is to develop messages that resonate with your ideal clients. And that means more research.
So for our client, they were missing the mark with their messages because they hadn’t done the full research into their target audience. They had the surface stuff and the basic demographics, but they didn’t understand what the decision maker wanted to hear, which flatlined their business.
Their messaging focused on empowerment, inspiration and motivation, which is all well and good, but when you’re a CEO responsible to shareholders and stakeholders there’s a lot weighing into every decision, not the least of which is the profits and loss statement every month.
Empowerment, inspiration and motivation are nice to have, but those things aren’t going to light a fire hot enough to get the wallet out, especially if nothing’s burning down – which was the reason they weren’t closing sales.
Because they weren’t focusing on the things that were important to their potential clients, they weren’t providing value.
The real value they delivered was saving lost time and revenue by solving communication issues, which were affecting productivity.
When we did their comprehensive research, we found that companies with 50-100 employees lose over $400 000 annually because of these issues. And they could solve it!
That’s something their prospective clients wanted to hear! In fact, when they talked to a client they’d been courting for over 5 years, with this new position and a new tactic we had pitched to them as part of their marketing strategy, the client said yes right away! We hadn’t even created the asset yet, and they wanted it!
That’s what appropriate market positioning does. It makes people say, “I don’t have that and I want it!”
Imagine what it can do for your business! Give us a call and let’s chat over a coffee about your market positioning.