How NOT to position your product for a new market


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When you create a new market with your product or service, your positioning statement needs to communicate the vision and passion of what ‘could be’. So what’s the right way to communicate this vision? According to entrepreneur and author Steven Gary Blank, it must answer the questions of what’s wrong with the current situation and how your product will change the situation.  One example that he uses is how Palm created the PDA market in the 1990’s. When Palm created the first personal digital assistant, the company positioning was about communicating a vision of how having a PDA was going to make life easier for consumers. Had Palm positioned its product in terms of features (16MB of memory, expandable, modem, etc.), the message would not have resonated as well with the market.

That seems simple enough, so here’s a contrasting example of how NOT to position a new product or service. This example comes in the form of a tongue-in-cheek survey created by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame that could have been used by the first airlines to promote their new product.

If you had to travel a long distance, would you rather:

a. Drive a car

b. Take a train

c. Allow yourself to be strapped into a huge metal container that weighs more than your house and be propelled through space by exploding chemicals while knowing that any one of a thousand different human, mechanical, or weather problems would cause you to be incinerated in a spectacular ball of fire.

If you answered ‘C’ would you mind if we stomped on your baggage and sent it to another city?

Here’s the takeaway: No matter what your product or service, focus on the problem you are solving. For Palm, the actual message went something like this: “Now executives can keep in sync with their computers” and “A PDA allows you to put all these functions in your pocket.” In the case of our airline survey…well, it’s pretty obvious.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Lefler
Patrick Lefler is the founder of The Spruance Group -- a management consultancy that helps growing companies grow faster by providing unique value at the product level: specifically product marketing, pricing, and innovation. He is a former Marine Corps officer; a graduate of both Annapolis and The Wharton School, and has over twenty years of industry expertise.


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