Here’s the thing about market positioning — You can control the product’s narrative or you can let it run on autopilot and carve out a position for itself. It’s not very wise to go down the path of the latter as the outcome is usually beyond your control. However, you can always override it to manual and steer it in the right direction but that’s just added steps you could have easily avoided.
Let’s take a deep dive into market positioning.
What is market positioning?
Simply put, market positioning is a well thought out process to carve out a small pocket of space in the mind of the users. It is a technique to strategically create a unique perception of the product. This helps the product to be easily differentiated from its competitors in the saturated market. The positioning of a product is perceptible in its messaging, design, content, pricing, marketing collaterals etc. All of these different facets must work together to create a unique and consistent perception of the product. From the vantage point of the user, they must be able to comprehend what it is that the product solves and why they should purchase it. A clear market positioning strategy can make your product stand out from the thousands of other SaaS products out there. This makes your product easily recognisable and perceptible to your niche market. It speaks directly to the target market.
Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.
- Positioning by Al Ries & Jack Trout
For a SaaS product, the website is the most important channel to first crack. Your website is the gateway to your product. If your gateway does not do a good job of explaining what it is that your product does, your prospects cannot make a decision if they want to try your product. Let’s be honest, in a saturated market, nobody has the patience to try out everything. Only if the teaser resonates with you, you will be willing to give it a shot.
Another important aspect that needs to be highlighted is the research that needs to be undertaken to understand the problem from your niche markets viewpoint. This research will help you unravel the language that your prospects speak. A by-product of the research is your ability to identify the keywords that they might type before they hit enter on a google search for instance.
Now, let’s put on our market positioning aware hat and let’s examine some examples. For our first example let’s consider Slack.
If you recognised any of the following then congratulations you are getting a hang of how the product is being positioned.
- A succinct banner headline — Slack makes it pleasant for teams to work together
- A short video giving the viewer a peek inside the platform and also highlighting some of the features that might get the viewer interested
- Happy faces of teammates who seem to be getting work done and sharing files, messages and notes
- Organisation size categories to make the viewer understand we have a product for you irrespective of the size of your organisation
- The value proposition of Slack is clearly communicated within the first two scrolls on the website
To summarise Slacks position in the market from the first two scrolls on their website:
Slack is a communication tool for teams of all sizes. It has integrations with a lot of applications and is an ideal replacement for email or the other multiple channels used for communication. Slacks application has some neat features that can be used by teams belonging to any work function. It centralises a lot of the activities that are otherwise typically carried out in an undefined manner.
*/ If you are a first time viewer of the Slacks website you would have surmised the above with at least 70% accuracy. I have used Slack for a while and therefore there might be a slight bias in my summary/*
Any person landing on this website is able to clearly get a picture of what it is that Slack offers and if this product could be useful for them. That is not all, there is one key aspect that positioning has set in. With the clarity, the viewer achieved he is able to decide if this product is fit for them or not and is able to retain in their memory albeit for a short period of time what Slack offers. Next time, for whatever reason that might be, if Slack’s brand ever happens to be a topic of conversation, the viewer is able to define what Slack does. The market positioning has paid off, the viewer is now your salesperson who is going to get the right audience to your website with the power of word of mouth. Now to redefine market positioning in simpler terms, it is to communicate your value proposition in a crystal clear and concise manner. If the communication reaches the unintended audience, they can make a decision with clarity and sometimes possibly direct the right audience to your doorstep.
The Litmus Test for Product Positioning
The litmus test to understand if your market positioning is correctly established is to ask the employees of your organisation. Mind you this should be employees from every function within your organisation. Since sales, business development and marketing mostly interact with the customers, they will be aware of the positioning. The entire organisation must be clear about what it is that your product does and for whom. It will be a bonus to also make it clear why your product is better than your competitor or how your offering is different. As I mentioned earlier, this is important because people talk. When they talk, let them be aware of your market positioning. Once you feed them the right set of keywords, they will just merely parrot out what they know about the product.
How is market positioning different for a SaaS product?
In a SaaS model, your product needs to continuously cure the itch your product is solving for your customers. Every customer is embarking on a journey with your product. For them to find value and pay, your product needs to keep upholding and staying true to its positioning. Your product’s claims have to be continuously delivered, fail to do so and you will stand to lose the customer. Unlike other products, a SaaS product is not done selling once the customer makes a purchase. The goal post shifts from acquiring to now retaining the customer. During this entire customer lifetime, your product’s position must be reiterated through the different mediums to remind the user that the product is delivering on the claims. This is important because — Your users are your number one evangelizers. If a particular product is providing them value in their function, they are going to talk about it with their peers. When they speak to their peers they know exactly how to describe your offering because your product’s positioning has done its part.