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A Simple Guide to Market Positioning in 10 Steps

Profile picture Rimbout Bobeldijk.
Founder Rimbo Designs
Rimbout Bobeldijk
26 September 2023
8 min

Effective market positioning can be the bridge between being just another name and becoming a top industry brand. With countless businesses competing for consumer attention, how do you make your product truly shine? Dive into this comprehensive guide to master market positioning.

Before you start, you should know that feedback from happy customers is essential for this exercise. If you're in the early stages and still gathering those golden insights, don't rush. In the early days of a company, when you are still learning about what customers love and hate about your offering, you need to get your product in front of a fairly wide set of potential customers. We can guess who loves our product most and why, but frequently, our guesses are incorrect. Until we have more experience with real customers, it’s better to keep our minds open and our positioning loose and see what happens.

In this guide, you will learn:

  1. Understand the Customers Who Love Your Product
  2. Assemble Your Positioning Team
  3. Align Your Positioning Vocabulary and Shed Past Biases
  4. Identify Your True Competitive Alternatives
  5. Highlight Your Unique Product Features
  6. Translate Features into Value Themes
  7. Identify and Prioritize Your Ideal Customers
  8. Positioning in a Market That Highlights Your Strengths
  9. Integrate Current Trends (Optional)
  10. Document and Disseminate Your Positioning

1. Understand the Customers Who Love Your Product

Imagine launching a revolutionary software that optimizes workflow. Most users find it useful, but there's a segment that believes it's a total game-changer. They rave about specific features that have transformed their daily operations. By homing in on this ecstatic feedback, you unlock the secret sauce of your product's success.

Why did this particular group adore your software so much? What was it about those features that resonated deeply with them? This isn't just about collecting positive feedback. It's about understanding the underlying reasons behind that adoration.

When you exclusively focus on the praises sung by your most enthusiastic users, clear patterns emerge. Maybe larger corporations find a particular feature invaluable for team collaboration, while startups are attracted to its scalability. Harness this invaluable feedback and let it guide your strategy. Here's how:

Surveys: Send targeted questionnaires to your top advocates. Ask them why they value specific features and how it has impacted their work.

User Interviews:
Have in-depth conversations with a selection of these enthusiasts. Dive deep into their usage patterns and stories.

Feedback Tools:
Use in-app feedback tools to capture real-time insights from your most devoted users.

By spotlighting the preferences of your biggest fans, you can refine your marketing and sales strategies. Direct your efforts towards audiences with similar characteristics and needs. After all, if there's a group that thinks your product hits all the right notes, there are surely more out there waiting for your tune.

2. Assemble Your Positioning Team

Each person on your team, be it someone from marketing, sales, or product development, brings a distinct perspective. These varied viewpoints can provide invaluable insights into the product's unique features, competitive edge, and what the customers are genuinely seeking.

To ensure a well-rounded positioning strategy:

Diversify Your Input: Even in a small team, involve members from different roles. This variety ensures a holistic strategy that captures all facets of your product.

Facilitate: Guide the discussion and ensure that every idea gets attention and the process remains focused.

By emphasizing diverse insights and perspectives, you lay the foundation for a robust and effective positioning strategy.

3. Align Your Positioning Vocabulary and Shed Past Biases

Positioning evolves. As the market and audience change, so must the way we position our products. During this re-evaluation, it's crucial to address a few common traps:

Beware of Positioning Baggage: It's natural to cling to original visions or ideas. Ask yourself: Are you describing the product the same way as when you launched it? Is your target market still as you first imagined?

Avoid Market Confusion: A recurring pitfall is the disconnect between how creators perceive their product and how customers see it. Ensure that your positioning aligns with the customer's perspective, as they're the ones who'll decide its value.

Adaptability is Key: Understand that a product might cater to multiple audiences. Hence, flexibility in positioning is paramount. Don't get stuck in past perceptions. Instead, embrace the diverse potential of your offering.

Clarify and Update Terminology: Periodically review the terms and concepts you use. Ensure they're clear and resonate with today's audience.

By embracing change and staying adaptable, you can prevent outdated views from hindering your product's potential.

4. Identify Your True Competitive Alternatives

When considering competitors, it's essential to shift from a creator’s lens to that of your customer. Their viewpoint determines how they evaluate the uniqueness and value of your product features.

Focus on the Core Issue: Start by identifying the primary challenges your product addresses for customers. This foundation helps you understand the space in which you're competing.

Through Their Eyes: Dive into your customers' mindset. What alternatives do they consider when seeking solutions? Their feedback is crucial in refining your positioning.

Listen to Your Best Customers: Engage with them to discover the alternatives they see in the market. They're the best sources of insights on true competition.

Categorize Competitive Alternatives: Recognize patterns and group similar alternatives. For instance, "DIY solutions" might cluster options like "employing an intern" or "using Excel."

By understanding the true competitive alternatives, you can sharpen your product's positioning in the market.

5. Highlight Your Unique Product Features

Distinguishing your product in a competitive market hinges on highlighting its unique features. Follow these steps to identify and promote these standout characteristics:

Catalog Every Feature: Begin by jotting down all the features of your product. Include everything, even if you're not certain about its value or think others might not see it positively.

Get Outside Opinions: It's easy to be biased about our own products. To get a clear picture, seek feedback or reviews from third parties. They can help confirm which features truly make your product special.

Focus on the  'Attraction' Features: Some features of your product are like shiny toys that make people want to buy it. These are 'attraction' features. But once they buy, there are other special things that make them want to keep using it. These are 'retention' features. When telling new people about your product, show them the shiny toys first. For example, great customer service is important, but it's something that people who already have your product will value more. New people might be more excited about the cool things your product can do.

6. Translate Features into Value Themes

While product features provide a foundation, it's the benefits and the value they bring to customers that truly matter. The exercise here is to distill these features into their core value propositions.

From Features to Benefits: Always ask, "What does this feature mean for the user?" For instance, a feature like "works without an internet connection" isn't just about connectivity; it signifies uninterrupted access and freedom, especially for those in remote areas.

Cluster Similar Values: As you list down the values derived from different features, you'll notice patterns. Some features might offer a similar kind of value. Group these together to simplify your messaging. For example, both "works on any mobile device" and "works without an internet connection" provide convenience and flexibility.

Narrow Down to Core Themes: Aim to condense your list to a few (1-4) primary value themes. Sometimes, this exercise might even distill the value down to a singular, powerful point. This sharpened focus ensures your messaging is potent and easy for potential customers to grasp.

Emphasize the Unique: Remember, the goal isn't to showcase every positive aspect of your product but to spotlight what sets you apart. Elevate the unique benefits that make your offering distinct and compelling.

Example of how you transform Features into Benefits

7. Identify and Prioritize Your Ideal Customers

Your "best-fit" customers are those who see the most value in your offerings, making them not only easier to win over but also more likely to stay loyal. To ensure efficiency in your marketing and sales efforts:

Define Your Best-Fit: Understand what makes certain prospects more excited than others. These are your best-fit prospects. They're not just defined by demographics but by a genuine alignment with the unique value your product offers.

Evaluate the Scope: Can you meet your sales goals by solely targeting these best-fit customers? If so, that’s your sweet spot. Focusing here means a more efficient use of resources. If not, consider expanding the definition slightly, but always prioritize quality over quantity.

Go Deeper: Don't just group people by easy things like age or company size. Think more about their actual problems, how they act, or what they really need. This helps match them with the special things your product offers.

Stay Agile with Positioning: Remember, the market, competition, and even your own product will evolve. Your positioning should too. It doesn't have to be a perfect fit for the distant future; it needs to resonate now.

8. Positioning in a Market That Highlights Your Strengths

Identifying the right market context is vital. It gives your prospects the ability to compare features, benefits, and pricing. Follow these guidelines:

Pinpoint Your Product's Essence: Reflect on your product's core features and their inherent value. Ask yourself: Which products usually offer these features? Which categories consistently deliver such benefits?

Explore Neighboring Markets: Investigate markets close to yours. Especially focus on fast-growing ones, as they might be harboring unmet needs your product addresses.

Select for Strength: Ensure your chosen market naturally emphasizes your product's unique attributes, making your advantages evident to potential customers.

Three Approaches to Market Positioning:

Once you've optimized your positioning based on the guidelines, you can delve into specific strategic approaches. Here are three distinct strategies for market positioning:

Head to Head: Dive into an existing market, aiming for the top. Here, you challenge existing leaders, persuading customers you're the superior solution.

Big Fish, Small Pond: Dominate a niche within a larger market. Instead of challenging the giants, you focus on a specific segment they might be overlooking, ensuring your offerings perfectly cater to its unique needs.

Create a New Game: Forge a new market altogether. This ambitious strategy involves educating customers about the need for this new market, defining its boundaries, and positioning yourself as its pioneering leader.

9. Integrate Current Trends (Optional)

Positioning your product within the context of a prevailing trend can elevate its appeal and relevance. However, it's crucial to do so wisely. Here's how to get it right:

Find the Sweet Spot: Visualize your product’s core strengths, its market niche, and a relevant trend as intersecting circles. Where they converge is where your product will resonate most with the audience, staying true to its essence while being current.

Clarity Over Coolness: Tying your product to a trend without clear context can be disorienting. Ensure there's an unmistakable link between the trend, your product, and its market.

Authentic Alignment: The trend should naturally complement your product. If the fit feels forced, it might be best to forgo this step. A genuine connection will always appear more authentic to your audience.

By thoughtfully weaving in trends, you position your product at the intersection of timelessness and timeliness.

Diagram of Trends,Solutions, and Market context. It dipicts there interactions

10. Document and Disseminate Your Positioning

After diligently crafting your positioning, it's crucial to ensure it's universally understood and adopted across your company.

Consolidate Concisely: Distill your positioning strategy into a succinct one-page document. This format makes it digestible, memorable, and a quick reference for any team member.

Share Broadly: Distribute this clear positioning blueprint to all departments. From marketing and sales to product development and customer support, everyone should be on the same page about how the product is presented to the world.

Regularly Revisit: Positioning isn't static. It's vital to periodically review and adapt your strategy, ensuring it remains aligned with evolving market dynamics and organizational goals. Each time it's updated, re-share with your team.

Successful positioning extends beyond mere documentation; it permeates every customer interaction and every product message.

example of positioning how you can put your strategy into a succinct one-page document


Navigating the intricacies of market positioning in today's competitive environment is paramount. Although this guide offers a robust foundation, personalized insights can further refine your approach. Seeking to fine-tune your brand's positioning? Let's collaborate. Book a call with me, and together, we'll ensure your brand not only stands out but also speaks directly to your audience's heart. Your brand's next level awaits.

Profile picture Rimbout Bobeldijk.
Founder Rimbo Designs

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