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Do you meet my needs?

I read an article recently which stated that customers were generally 60% through the sales cycle before they engaged a sales person. Its called self education, or in plain english, the online researching, discussing with friends and family, article reading and general background checks we do, to convince ourselves that our money will be well spent.
In marketing terms it's the consideration phase and it's important. You've got a need in mind and you want to know that the company/product/service you choose, will help you meet that need. So, how do you evaluate? In a word - positioning.

Positioning sounds rather old fashioned now, but it's simply creating ideas, images and feelings in the mind of your customer. Some examples of great positioning
  • answering the questions your customer is likely to have through web content, tweets and facebook discussions, before they need to ask them directly 
  • recognizing the bigger reasons around a need and playing to them i.e. I want a watch but if I get a Rolex all my friends will know it cost a lot and be jealous. Rolex play to the idea of prestige rather than the ability to tell time 
  • creating an emotional link to a brand i.e. John Lewis (never knowingly undersold), gives the impression of being on the customers side and having their best interests at heart. They are selling integrity as well as merchandise 
Of course the most obvious example of positioning is whether you consider yourself to be a Mac or a PC. Apple positioning their products in the world of Art, free thinkers, rebels and creative geniuses. The Apple brand has created a loyal fan base who will sleep outside to be first in the queue for the latest gadget. They're convinced of greatness as soon as they see the icon. Now that's positioning.

Ask yourself

  • Who is my product/service for?
  • What do they expect it to do for them?
  • Will my product/service meet my customers needs better than the alternatives they can choose from? (in other words help customers choose you over the competition)
Thinking as the buyer rather than the seller will help you position your offering and see where improvements can be made. If you don't position yourself, others will, so make sure it's your choice to gain maximum advantage.

Now, Pret or Subway for lunch?


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