SME: 6 steps for defining your company’s positioning

As an entrepreneur, you possess certain knowledge and skills. You have an identity, in other words. But your company needs to have one too. Its uniqueness is what will allow it to stand apart from the competition and better position itself in the market. Here are 6 steps for creating your brand strategy.

  1. Properly identify your sector of activity

To properly define the positioning you would like your SME to adopt, it is important to correctly target the sector of activity in which you operate. Make sure you understand your industry from A to Z. For example, if your specialty is creating winter coats, you will need to deduce a lot more than just a list of potential customers.

Determine what will drive consumers to buy your coats instead of those of a competitor. You also need to compare your products (their quality, availability, etc.) with those of your competitors. Finally, having a good understanding of your sector of activity involves a deep understanding of available suppliers. Are some able to offer a certain quality of fabric for a better price?

  1. Create a list of your competitors

You must identify every competitor, direct or indirect, that is aiming to capture your share of the market. The goal of this analysis is to help you identify the elements that make you stand apart from the rest. To define your positioning, you need to understand your adversaries by analyzing a number of data points.

Strengths, weaknesses, pricing policy, products available for substitution and their distinctive characteristics are all elements that form part of a true competitive analysis. This analysis allows you to not only identify your industry’s leader, but also the companies that aspire to that position.

  1. Create a profile of your clients

Why would a big box store want to sell your SME’s winter coats? And why would consumers buy them? Whether you’re looking at business clients or consumers looking for the best quality-to-price ratio, you need to learn as much as possible about your target. Who are your customers? What segment does your company hope to reach first? Be specific: age, yearly income, profession, number of household members and purchasing habits are all characteristics to fuel your thinking.

  1. Determine your competitive advantage

It’s true that your product is enticing. But what distinguishes it from that of your competitors? It most likely has a feature that the others don’t have, such as an unusual or highly sought-after technical feature… Or your advantage could be in another area: attractive pricing, a generous guarantee or availability in every country worldwide, for example. During this fourth step, clarify the added value brought by your SME.

  1. Compare your positioning to those of your competitors

You are now ready to illustrate your positioning using a matrix (a market positioning map) which has two axes, each corresponding to a particular criterion (price, quality). First indicate your SME’s position on the map using a distinctive colour, then add a point for every competitor you identified earlier. This process isn’t exactly scientific and is only to help you situate yourself—or position yourself—within the swarm of competitors in order to obtain a visual representation of your positioning. Along the way, certain questions will likely arise:

  • Is the positioning of my SME too close to that of competitor XYZ?
  • Is there an unoccupied strategic positioning on the map that could represent a business opportunity?
  • Should we change the positioning of our company?
  1. Formulate a positioning statement

If your company’s positioning has been well defined, you should be able to write a positioning statement that is short and concise. Two well-constructed lines are usually all it takes! Aim for a simple concept that allows the reader to understand immediately where your competitive advantage lies. In particular, describe the product or service you offer, your targeted market, what distinguishes you from your competitors and the main characteristic of your offering.

All that remains is to reaffirm your mission and proceed towards creating key messages for each target market in order to complete your brand strategy.