June 23rd, 2023
4 minutes

Elevating your offering with product positioning: insights from April Dunford’s talk

Elevating your offering with product positioning

Who is April Dunford?

A guest speaker on marketing at many trade fairs and conferences, April Dunford is a globally recognized expert in product positioning. An experienced consultant, she has advised over a hundred major companies, mainly in the B2B tech sector, on this topic. She is also the author of the best-seller “Obviously Awesome”.

How set a product positioning strategy to stand out in crowded markets?

The title of her latest talk was “How to use Positioning to Stand Out in Crowded Markets”. And here are the key takeaways from her invaluable advice.

According to April Dunford, positioning is the most powerful yet also most misunderstood tool. She explains it as follows: “Positioning defines how our product is the best in the world at providing some value that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.”

Definition of a product positioning strategy

Be careful, however, not to confuse positioning with branding or brand image. April Dunford explains how positioning is the foundation of a house, and branding or the brand image is the house built upon it.

A product positioning strategy should provide meaning and set a context. It is this context that determines how your offering is perceived. It would be a mistake to think that simply categorizing your product or service is enough; you need to go much further.

With her years of experience, April Dunford has pinpointed the various components to examine, and the method that should underpin a positioning strategy:

  • Alternatives, not forgetting the “status quo”, a decision not to buy anything after all, which is actually the end point for about 50% of B2B purchasing processes
  • The attributes that make your product or service unique, without limiting yourself to purely functional or technical features
  • The value that your product or service brings to your customers each and every day, or why they need you and what you offer them
  • The target customer segment that needs this value
  • The market category that matches the context in which your value is essential for the targeted segments
How to build a successful product positioning strategy

She warns that new trends should not be confused with market categories. Market categories equate to what a buyer wants to buy (e.g. CRM, a security solution, ERP, HR software, etc.) and trends are variables that apply to markets.

So AI, the cloud, machine learning, or blockchain are not markets but actually trends. There is no need to call your positioning into question with every emerging trend Such trends must be taken into account in a reasoned way, on the basis of your product/service and market context, and used to boost your positioning. Be careful not to rush headlong to join a trend out of opportunism – you run the risk of major disappointment.

The product positioning triad

Key tips to remember for determining the right positioning of your product or service

  • Don’t confuse “brand” with “positioning”
  • Consider all components, in the right order, for success
  • Don’t forget to include buyers taking “non-decisions” and try to understand why they act in that way
  • Analyze your customers’ attributes in detail, to define the segmentation of your target audience – a narrow but high-quality target is worth more than an excessively broad one
  • Ask the sales team for their feedback on the reasons for lost or abandoned sales, the strong points, and the pitches that help win new customers.
  • Lastly, pay some attention to how offerings, requirements, markets, and contexts are developing. Positioning has to be re-assessed over time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be changed, but it is definitely important to review it and alter it if need be.

And you? When exactly was the last time you re-assessed your positioning strategy?

We invite you to gradually revisit the points listed in April Dunford’s approach one by one. The recommended starting point would therefore be to revise your competitive analysis, adding any newcomers to the market, updating competitors that have made changes to their offering, noting M&A activity in the market, and not overlooking the “no decision” angle and the reasons why some prospects ultimately choose no solution and no change to their process.

Aspects of your analysis of your competitors might include:

  • What are their key messages?
  • Who are they targeting?
  • What is their functional coverage like?
  • What does their website and corporate style bring to mind?
  • What values do they promote?
  • How is their SEO coverage?
  • On which channels and networks are they to be found?
  • And so on.

If you’re looking to improve your positioning in France, contact us here.

Estelle Lamarre I assist software vendors and IT consultancy firms in their lead generation strategies thanks to my expertise in SEA, SMA and marketing automation.
Google Partner
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