Positioning for Leadership

Leadership positioning is one of those marketing subjects that generates a lot of attention. A quick internet search will reveal more instructional “how to” content than anyone can possibly read. Unfortunately, some of the content is contradictory. Some of it focuses way too much on tactics and ignores the strategic considerations. And, all of it can cause marketers to lose sight of the forest while focusing on the trees. 

How an organization establishes a leadership position will vary. Some may only need a slight adjustment to their current positioning strategy. Others may need to establish a full repositioning strategy to turbo-boost efforts to be recognized as the leader in their market. The reality is that there are no quick-fix answers or catch-all solutions. But there are fundamental steps that all organizations should take when embarking on a leadership positioning effort. 

Creating a leadership position does not start with a tactic. It’s not about hitting the ground running with a social media, email, digital, or media relations campaign. Nor is it about turbocharging the noise you’re making through general marketing channels to “get your product in front of more eyes.” 

In all markets, leadership positioning is built on a firm understanding of the market, the business, and the perception you want to create of your organization in the market. With this foundation, you can then build the tactics and align the entire organization around a positioning effort. Typically, there are three steps to this foundational process: 

1.  Assess the Market

First, understand the true current state of the market you are competing in — not what you or other team members may think it is. Conduct the research that will tell you if the market is growing, whether it is overcrowded, who is playing in the market, and how those competitors are positioning themselves. 

Without a market assessment and the valuable conclusions that derive from it, your future positioning will be missing a valuable cornerstone. 

2.  Assess the Business

Only after you assess the market can you assess your business. Carefully determine the strengths that will support your market positioning and the weaknesses that will detract from it. Consider what you can leverage to build the perception you want to create. Analyze and select the value and benefits your offering brings to the market. Through this process, you’ll more than likely relearn and refocus on which market and marketing opportunities truly are for your business, and which are lost causes.

3.  Build Positioning

Phase one and two are not meant to be taken lightly, and only when those are completed can you truly begin the build the positioning. The research in phase one and two will provide clarity and make it easier to chart the way you will need to position your business in your market and what you will want to focus on to develop the right image, generate awareness, and, most importantly, create perception. 

Unfortunately, there are no silver bullet solutions to the leadership positioning process. The journey to redefine or reinvent positioning must be planned and executed properly — success cannot be achieved by focusing on one marketing tactic or taking shortcuts. 

The good news is, with a structured approach, establishing a leadership position can be achieved in any market.


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