Positioning is the means by which a brand or company presents its features and benefits to prospective customers. It is a means of establishing identity, one that sets a business apart from competitors. It is also determined by variables that include price, target audience, and the area where a firm does business.
A business must set itself apart from its competition. To be successful it must identify and promote itself as the best provider of attributes that are important to target customers. (George S. Day)
Services marketing is customer-directed communication that promotes a service instead of a physical product. Whereas Proctor & Gamble sells Tide detergent, a law firm sells less tangible services, such as legal advice. Using the example of a law firm, we can describe its positioning and infer the type of client the firm hopes to attract.
Some law firms specialize in personal injury cases, which suggests that they will position their offerings to individuals who are likely to be sensitive to price and in the market for a short time. Personal injury attorneys do business in specific cities, which may also determine the nature of prospective customers.
Others firms specialize in corporate law, which might involve large businesses navigating complex transactions or highly regulated markets. In these instances, the law firm would position itself to attract businesses with deep pockets that need a broad range of services. The geographical coverage of these law firms wouldn’t necessarily be confined to one city as many prospective clients have offices across the country.
Another example is the specialty firm that offers a narrow range of services to a very targeted client base. For instance, a startup company might need a firm positioned for clients who only need to secure a patent. Operating on a shoestring budget, these sorts of clients would be extremely sensitive to price but not constrained by geography.
Service positioning is the unique identity of a service in a competitive market. A valuable position serves customer needs and stands out from the competition in a way that has meaning to customers. The following are illustrative examples of service positioning.
Making things easy for the customer. For example, the delivery service that keeps trying to deliver until they find that you’re home.
Unique capabilities such as the consulting service that offers rare and in-demand skills.
Functions & Features
Allowing customers to accomplish goals in a way that competitors can’t match. For example, the airline with the most direct flights to Asian cities from Germany.
More friendly and diligent customer service such as the telecom company that is pleasing to do business with.
Offering more choice such as the streaming media service with the most content.
A quality-based service position such as the media service with the best original content.
A good price relative to everything the service offers. For example, the insurance coverage that always has the lowest price.
A reliable service such as the airline that is always on time.
A safe service such as the airline with the best safety record that always puts safety first in everything they do.
Performance such as the fastest delivery service.
Services that satisfy the customer needs of a particular demographic such as a family friendly hotel that offers special rooms for families with young children.
Tailoring the service to the customer such as the luxury hotel that goes out of its way to configure rooms and services to customer preferences.
Positioning related to taste, smell, touch, sound and visual appeal. For example, the restaurant with the best tasting ice cream.
The most usable service such as the car navigation system that works as customers expect.
A service that is the real thing. For example, the most authentic sushi in Austin Texas.
An overall experience such as a happy theme park.
A service that offers peak experiences that feel like an accomplishment such as the travel service that offers adventure and personal enrichment.
Offering the customer direct or indirect rewards. For example, a professional certification service that tends to boost an employee’s long term salary.
A service with a unique reputation on the market such as an investment bank with a track record of successful IPOs.
A unique position based on the history of your firm such as a bank that is hundreds of years old that positions itself as time-tested, established and reliable.
Positioning a service as having superior knowledge such as an investment advisor who is well connected.
Social status such as a night club in where you’re likely to run into celebrities.
Values such as the insurance company that cares about people with special services to help clients who experience losses.
A service that appreciates the customer’s business. For example, the bar that remembers your name and favorite beverage.
A service that exemplifies a culture or subculture. For example, the restaurant chain that feels like Texas.
A service that exemplifies a lifestyle such as a restaurant that offers a slow food experience.