Positioning Your Business For Success

Charlie Cook

As the plane lifts off, imagine yourself reclining comfortably in your first class seat. You’re headed for San Francisco where you’ll be met by a driver and whisked to a luxury hotel with views of the bay. The tab is being picked up by a company looking to buy your firm, and your biggest concern is how much cash and stock to ask for when you meet with the president of the company and the senior officers. Sound like a fantasy?

Actually, I was the person being whisked across country, a few years back, to negotiate the sale of a web site I had built. With a lot of hard work and a carefully executed positioning I created the opportunity to make more than I thought possible from what had started as a just for fun web site marketing project.

Whether you are a builder, accountant, realtor, market researcher, or manufacture loudspeakers or baseball bats, the way you position your firm can determine your success.

Do you want prospects to seek you out?

Do you want people to pay you more?

Do you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition?

With a simple positioning strategy you can get more attention than you imagined and bring in those high-margin projects and the profits you want. Here’s how I positioned one of my ideas for success.

In 1999, a new search engine was appearing on the Internet almost every week. Some were much better than others. Knowing which search tool to use was confusing. Through my own interest in finding better tools to navigate the web, I’d discovered a common need.

Based on four years of study of search engines and a book I’d written previously on marketing to the search engines, I’d become an expert on how they did and didn’t work. To help my own online research and to help others, I built a web site that provided a directory of search engines and reviewed their usefulness and functionality.

What are your areas of expertise?

The objective of my site was simple. At a time when most people were just discovering the web, I wanted to help them find the best possible search tools for their particular task. My mission was to educate people about how to find what they were looking for online. The site primarily focused on the growing number of reviews I authored. Instead of leading with information about my credentials, I used the content on the site to demonstrate my knowledge.

What can you do to educate your prospects?

How can you demonstrate your expertise?

Now I needed a way to get people to the site. While my target market was almost infinite – anyone searching the Internet – my advertising budget was zero. (Remember I was doing this as a back pocket project while maintaining my small business marketing consulting practice.) How could I attract attention and get people to come back to the web site again and again?

I identified online editors and reference librarians as identifiable, approachable groups with a high level of interest and influence. I started an ezine directing readers to current search engine reviews and updates on the site and published approximately once a month.

What is your stay-in-touch strategy?

After just three issues of my ezine reporters started calling me for radio interviews and magazine articles. I received an offer to buy the web site with the price tied to the number of monthly visitors and page views. Three months later I had grown traffic to the site from thirty thousand to three hundred thousand page views per month and closed the deal.

To position your product or service for success:
A. Identify a Common Need
B. Identify a Market
C. Demonstrate Your Expertise to that Market
D. Continue to Stay in Touch

If you’ve been in business for three years or more you’ve accumulated a wealth of experience and knowledge. The more you share your ideas, the more people will view you as an expert and seek you out. Give your prospects examples of your expertise and they will think of you when they need your products or services.

You can use an ezine, your web site, a book, workshops or public speaking to demonstrate your knowledge and put your firm ahead of the competition. Using the strategy outlined above and a little effort you can position your business for success and put yourself in front.

How To Position Your Product For Success Before It Exists

Charlie Cook

You have an idea for a new product or service, want to get feedback from prospects and position your firm as the experts. How do you do this when you haven’t ever provided the particular service or sold the product?

Let’s say you are in the planning stages of starting a collection agency. (Your clients could be lawyers, building contractors, clothing manufacturers, etc.) How do you find out what your potential clients want and position your firm for future sales?

Even if you don’t have a fully defined service you can still demonstrate your expertise through the quality of the questions you ask. No one knows all the answers and bluffing is a poor way to build a business. Use questions to prompt prospects’ thinking. Then use your expertise to synthesize common problems and solutions and prospects will be impressed. While your products and services are the vehicles that will earn you money, your expertise is what will help you become a trusted adviser and service provider.

Learn how to position yourself and your business for success >>

Establish yourself as an expert and increase credibility. Learn how to write your articles and where to distribute them with ‘Opening Doors with Your Articles

If you don’t know what your prospects want, ask them. Put together a list of ten to twenty-five questions. Avoid using “either or” types of questions and create a list of open-ended questions which encourage prospects to discuss their collection concerns. Ask questions to clarify common collection problems, their importance and what prospects want to do about them.

Now that you have your list of questions, whom do you talk to? If your target market is lawyers, start with your own lawyer, friends’ lawyers and use networking to grow your sample to fifteen to twenty attorneys.

To build credibility be direct about what you are doing. Tell the people you want to meet with that you are researching a new service and want to learn more about their collection problems, concerns and strategies. While this may not sound like the greatest opening line, most people like to talk about themselves and appreciate it when others show an interest in their problems.

Let them know that when you complete the research phase, you will distribute a summary of your findings to them. Its much easier to get people to give you 20-45 minutes of their time if you aren’t trying to sell them but approach them looking for advice.

When you are done with your interviews, write a summary of the common problems and strategies you identified. Don’t forget to include a section in your report that describes how your services will solve these.

Using this research/ positioning strategy you can:
– Refine your product or service idea to meet prospects’ needs
– Create content for articles to publicize your knowledge
– Establish yourself as the expert

Having the perfect product or service to meet your target market’s needs is a plus but it won’t guarantee a sale. Establishing yourself as the expert, one who knows and understands their concerns will help to pull in clients. Whether you are researching a new service or want to ramp up sales for an existing one marketing your expertise to sell your services is a great way to make use of strategic marketing.

Use your articles to establish yourself as an expert and increase credibility. Learn how to write your articles and where to distribute them >>

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