Changing Your Position When There
Changing Your Position When There's Competition
C.J. Hayden, MCC
Are you finding many of your best prospects already working with competitors?
When you pursue a new opportunity, is someone else capturing the prize? Maybe
it's time to re-evaluate your positioning.
Your market position is the place you occupy in the mind of your prospective
clients. It's how they think of you as compared to your competitors. Adjectives
like established or cutting-edge; high-quality or inexpensive; convenient or
full-service are all relative terms. When applied to you and your business, they
distinguish you from the competition.
Your clients' impression of how your business compares can determine whether
they work with you or not. Try conducting some competitive research to find out
what it is that clients like about the people you compete with. Are those
qualities you can emulate? In what areas are clients not as satisfied? Could you
offer more satisfaction there?
Ask your current and former clients about their experience with the competition.
They may be quite candid with you about what they liked and didn't like, and
give you some valuable insight into why they chose you. Check out how your
competitors are positioning themselves by surfing the Net. Mission statements,
lists of features and benefits, etc. will often be posted on their web sites.
You can also have a friend request their literature, or hire a professional
Target market research can help if prospects are telling you they don't need
what you are offering. If you think they need a team-building retreat, but they
are looking for more skills training, you won't make a sale. If you learn more
about how prospects view their own challenges, you can develop a new market
position to better match their mental, or real-life, purchase order. Your
retreat might fly if you called it "an intensive three-day training program in
the critical skills needed for effective teamwork."
Ask your satisfied clients for a testimonial letter. The way they describe the
work you do and benefits they received from it can give you valuable clues in
how to sell it to others. An evaluation questionnaire can be used for the same
purpose. Try asking, "How would you describe my service to someone who could use
Your research might uncover that your service isn't packaged in a way that
prospects want to buy it. Developing a better service package could make what
you offer more attractive. A marketing consultant who has been charging by the
project might find clients more receptive to a monthly retainer they can budget
for. An interior designer encountering resistance to his hourly fee might
instead raise his commission rate on furnishings, and no longer charge by the
Sometimes just naming your service package can make a difference. An image
consultant might be much more successful selling the "One-Day Makeover" than
asking clients to buy six hours of her time to revamp their whole look. When
doing your market research, try asking your prospects how they prefer to buy
services like yours, and tailor your offering to their preferences.
You may make the discovery that you've chosen the wrong market -- the perceived
need for what you offer isn't strong enough, they aren't willing to pay what you
need to charge, or the size of the market is too small. In this case, it's time
to position yourself for an entirely different market.
A career counselor who can't find enough individuals who will pay her fee can
market herself to companies who need outplacement services. A software trainer
who discovers that large companies prefer training firms that can serve them
nationally might find a better market in midsize organizations. Keep asking the
question, "Who is MOST LIKELY to hire me?" until you find the right fit.
C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients NOW! Thousands of business owners and
salespeople have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple
their income. Get a free copy of "Five Secrets to Finding All the Clients You'll
Ever Need" at