Competitive positioning is all about gaining an advantage over your competitors. You can do this in a number of ways – product, customer service, price, location, really anything you can find value in, can be used as an advantage.
Even things you possibly haven’t considered, can become a competitive advantage if you market them right.
For example, back in the early 1900’s tooth hygiene didn’t exist. In fact only 7% of Americans owned toothpaste and were maybe brushing once a week. At the time there were only two brands of toothpaste available in the market, one had the first mover advantage (IE was the first on the market) and had established itself as the brand to buy. The other, unheard of brand, Pepsodent, needed a competitive advantage. They hired Claude Hopkins, a prominent Advertising executive.
Hopkins discovered, through reading dental books, that plaque would build up on teeth and over time this would cause tooth decay. He decided that this would be the competitive advantage he needed to push sales of toothpaste and change brushing habits across the country.
Soon there were ads everywhere asking consumers to “run their tongue across their teeth.” It then said “you’ll feel a film – that’s what makes your teeth off color and invites decay” “Pepsodent removes that film” OR “Why would any woman have dingy film on their teeth?” “Remove that film with Pepsodent”.
The truth is, plaque build-up could be removed by a number of activities, including eating an apple or using the other toothpaste, but they weren’t advertising this. Soon people flocked to the Pepsodent brand. A decade later, Pepsodent was one of the best-selling brands in the world, 65% of Americans owned toothpaste and Pepsodent remained the number one selling toothpaste in America for thirty years.
Another example is when McDonalds installed the Eftpos machine. No other fast food retailer had done this, so McDonalds ran a heap of ads featuring young adults swiping their cards. This boosted sales even further for McDonalds and forced all other fast food retailers to install machines.
Figuring out your competitive advantage is key to increasing your appeal. It’s not necessarily about having something the competitor doesn’t have, in most cases there may be very little difference between your product and the competitions, but what aren’t they advertising, what value add have they neglected to inform their customers about? Find this and promote it far and wide.