The Positioning Matrix™
A Positioning Matrix a mathematical tool that defines the essential elements of a brand’s positioning platform, and guides the relative importance of each element based on the specific marketing environment and competitive challenge a brand is faced with.
The objective of using the Positioning Matrix to craft a brand positioning strategy is that it enables each brand to vary the emphasis placed on each of the four essential elements to gain advantage in competitive markets. It guides creation of brand messages targeting specific competitors vying for similar consumer targets.
I developed the Positioning Matrix™ over the course of more than 35 years of working as a big agency principal (think ‘Mad Men’), and as a marketing, strategic planning, and SEO consultant to many very large brands in almost every niche imaginable, from billion-dollar ecom brands to major services, agencies and consultants.
Completing the Positioning Matrix™ properly allows the creation of the perfect combination of elements to match the dynamics of the market and competitive conditions in which the product will be promoted, properly positioned, and most importantly, how the competition will be de-positioned at the category level.
Components Of A Positioning Matrix
A properly constructed Positioning Matrix™ is a grid which has TWO main axes: The 4 Essential Elements, and The 4 Marketing Environments.
The 4 Essential Elements
The 4 Marketing Environments
The 4 Essential Elements Of The Positioning Matrix™
Essential Positioning Element 1: The Meaningful Benefit
The FIRST of the 4 critical elements that comprise the Positioning Matrix™ must present a MEANINGFUL BENEFIT to the target consumer or prospect. Most brands, especially those who believe that their ‘USP’ (Unique Selling Proposition) is the way to go about brand positioning, get this wrong right at the start.
Essential Positioning Element 2: Provable and Easily Evident
The SECOND of the 4 critical elements that comprise a winning Positioning Matrix™ is that the ‘Meaningful Benefit’ promised must be easily PROVABLE or clearly EVIDENT to the consumer. In order to craft your Positioning Matrix™ properly, on the road to developing your ultimate Positioning Platform, you must account for the consumer’s perception of the credibility of your meaningful benefit promise.
Essential Positioning Element 3: Differentiated from the Competitors
The THIRD of the 4 critical elements that comprise a winning Positioning Matrix™ is that the ‘Meaningful Benefit’ promised must be clearly and distinctly DIFFERENTIATED from you competitors (and, yes, competitors are different than competition!). Competitors comes in many forms (5 different flavors actually, which are the subject of another article and a major focus of my Intensive Positioning Training Program). To craft a truly winning Positioning Platform, you must consider the competitive impact of ALL 5 types.
Essential Positioning Element 4: De-Positioning the Competition
DEPOSITIONING THE COMPETITION, the fourth essential element of a powerful Positioning Matrix™, is the most difficult but the most powerful and important element of positioning. It gives your brand the control to pre-empt your target consumer or client from perceiving that your competitors can solve their pain points, needs or desires, as only your brand can. De-positioning is the true game-changer for massive competitive advantage.
The 4 Marketing Environments Of The Positioning Matrix™
Marketing Environment 1: Introductory
The FIRST of the 4 Marketing Environments your brand might be competing in, and that is required to craft a compelling Positioning Matrix™, is the INTRODUCTORY Marketing Environment. This isn’t always what it might appear to be. It’s NOT the introduction of the 2020 Range Rover… it’s the invention and introduction of the AUTOMOBILE. However, when positioning is done right, it almost ALWAYS includes some component of the Introductory Marketing Environment.
Marketing Environment 2: Offensive
The SECOND of the 4 potential marketing environments your brand could be competing in is the OFFENSIVE Marketing Environment. This is when you are trying to take market share away from your competitors. This is one of the most important aspects of crafting a compelling Positioning Matrix™ and a winning Positioning Platform. It’s also the critical element of creating a new ‘Category Class’, the fastest path to Competitive Advantage.
Marketing Environment 3: Defensive
The THIRD possible marketing environment your brand might face is the DEFENSIVE Marketing Environment. This is encountered when you need to protect your customer or client base from being poached (or lured) away by competitors. If your brand positioning is strongly crafted, and deployed properly across all of your marketing channels and marketing messages, you can defend easily against competitive attacks, keep clients in the fold longer, and increase their lifetime value significantly.
Marketing Environment 4: Remedial
Once in a rare while brands face challenges to their credibility or even their very survival. REMEDIAL environments occur when you have a serious PR issue to resolve… like the discovery of cyanide in bottles of Tylenol that were tampered with back in 1982. Or the more recent debacle of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft. Tylenol handled their problem swiftly and successfully by deploying a REMEDIAL positioning strategy – inventing the TAMPER-PROOF SEAL. Boeing choose a different and unsuccessful route of denial and slow response that doomed the MAX brand. Understanding how to prepare for and respond to urgent crises can mean the difference between brand survival or brand death. Be prepared.
Composing A Completed Positioning Matrix™
Weighting Of The Positioning Matrix™
Complete Your Positioning Matrix™
Having defined all 4 Essential Elements, you now weight the relative importance of each one based on which Marketing Environment you are trading in. Remember that one of the most powerful tactics is the creation of a new Category Class, which provides the power of a classic Introductory Environment, but modified with the weighting of the Offensive Environment. You are literally creating a proxy for an entirely new category and thus you gain the power to unseat your competitors swiftly and capture significant market share from your competitors. We call this a ‘Hybrid Marketing Environment.’