The most important marketing question that you need to address in your business is “What position do you want to hold - in the market and in the minds of your clients?” Why is that question so important to you? The answer to that question will clarify your strategy and direction. And that answer will answer a lot of other distracting questions quickly.
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Strategic Positioning: The Battle for Market Dominance

The most important marketing question that you need to address in your business is "What position do you want to hold - in the market and in the minds of your clients?"

Why is that question so important to you?

The answer to that question will clarify your strategy and direction. And that answer will answer a lot of other distracting questions quickly.

This is a tough question. That's why many business owners don't address it. Think about the significance of that. If most aren't addressing this fundamental question about their business then there is a huge opportunity for you if you are willing to do the heavy lifting.

What is positioning?

The concept of positioning was made famous by the 1981 book, "Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind" by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

The book presents the idea that the positioning that matters most is the position that your product holds in the mind of your market. The important lesson from the book is that if you want to succeed in business you'd better get into the mind of your customers. The customer's mind might be complicated but it prefers to hold on to simple thoughts. That means that the marketing message that establishes your position in the customer's mind must be simple and easy to state and remember.

There are some powerful lessons that any marketer can learn from this book. But there are some limitations for today's market. The book focuses mainly on product marketing and it does that well. But that can be too narrow a focus when you are searching for how to position your company or brand in the marketplace.

"All battles are won before they are fought."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning became popular in the eighties. It entails seriously thinking about the business you are in, the marketplace, where you are heading and how you can get there.

In the process of developing your strategic plan you examine your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Some of the outcomes would be the identification and articulation of your values, vision, mission and goals.

The strengths of this process is that you are forced to look both inside and outside your organization, and make the connections between them. You would examine your history, present and future. Then you would set priorities, create schedules and allocate resources.

And everyone goes marching off to battle waving the flag.

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
Sun Tzu, the Art of War

What is strategic positioning?

As business strategy often takes its lessons from battle let's use that analogy.

In battle the party who holds the higher ground usually wins. In business you must seek out your higher ground. In business the higher ground is not as evident as it is on the battlefield.

Your higher ground is the position that allows you to make the best use of your strengths that at the same time grants you a superior advantage over the competition.

Strategic positioning looks at more than just a particular product. Strategic positioning entails positioning your business or brand in the marketplace to your best advantage. This is especially important in a changing market because when the ground is shaking you need to be firmly on solid ground.

Strategic positioning is more comprehensive than product positioning. Procter & Gamble is one of the best examples of a company famous for their product positioning. But what if you're not selling soap or toothpaste?

You might think that you are safe with product positioning if you are selling to consumers. If it worked for the brand marketers at P&G why can't you use it?

The concept of brand has changed and the market is crowded. People are overwhelmed with marketing messages. That means that the chance of your message getting through and sticking is dismal - unless you hold the higher ground.

Let's look at some examples of strategic positioning.

Sony has positioned the company as a provider of innovative and higher quality (higher priced) entertainment electronics. That position that the company holds includes any of their products.

Apple has strategically repositioned the company as a provider of leading edge technology that is easy to use and redefines the market. Hence they transformed from selling "a computer for artistic people" to developers of iTunes, iPod, iPhone and the iPad.

Product positioning entails fighting for a marketing position in the mind of the customers. Strategic positioning goes beyond that by entrenching that position clearly in the minds of the leaders and staff of the business. That motivates them and guides their decision making.

One controversial decision at Apple is that Apple often bypasses its dealer network to sell directly to the public, undercutting Apple approved dealers. It doesn't make sense unless you more closely examine the strategic positioning Apple has chosen.

As you can see strategic positioning is not just about marketing although it determines marketing. Strategic positioning will drive every aspect of your business from operations to financial decisions.

General Electric, while under the leadership of Jack Welch claimed the strategic position of either number one or number two in each of its markets. Any division that did not meet this expectation was sold or closed. That's clarity and focus.

Mike Holmes of "Holmes on Homes" seems to have claimed the strategic position of "the building contractor who really cares and tells it like he sees it." That guided his style in his contracting business. That made it easy for him to accept the offer of a TV show when it came along. He didn't go looking for the TV show. That strategic positioning also made it easy for him to decide to build homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
When you know what you want to do, you will recognize the opportunities as they present themselves.

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." Sun Tzu, The Art of War

What's your strategic position in the market?

Can you articulate your position? It must be one that no one else can claim. That means that you must have a clear understanding of the market, your best prospects and your competition. Can you clearly state the positioning of each of your major competitors? Can you describe the mindset and decision making process of your customers and prospects?

How to develop your Strategic Position
  • Ask the tough questions that make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Take a bold position that is open to you.
  • Use your strengths to your advantage.
  • Be willing to close some doors but not all.
  • Hold your position but never relax.

Claim the higher ground. That's how you will dominate your market.

© George Torok is the co-author of the bestselling Secrets of Power Marketing. Claim your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" at If you want help to gain an Unfair Marketing Advantage over the competition call George Torok at 905-335-1997. Learn more about his speaking, consulting and coaching programs at

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© George Torok is co-author of the bestseller, "Secrets of Power Marketing: Promote Brand You". He is author of the ebook, "Your Guide to Networking Success". To order your copy of this networking guide or learn more visit To receive your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" visit