Position your Business

Position your Business


Business success requires focus.  You need to know what your focus is, but above all your potential customers need to know what your focus is. They need to have that very clear picture in the mind about you in order to choose between you and the opposition.

This is where many businesses, especially many start-ups get it wrong. Very wrong. They want to be all things to all people. You can’t!

You need to focus!

Think of the famous company with the large yellow arches.  You think hamburger!  You don’t think salad or coffee or chicken burger or chips or soft drinks. You think hamburger.

Imagine an early Friday evening. Mum says: “I am not going to stand in front of the stove tonight. We’re having takeaways.  What do you guys want?  MacDonalds, pizza or KFC?  This is the primary positioning for each of the fast food companies.  Note that MacDonalds and KFC own their respective positions in the market. There is no single company that represent pizza in the same way – perhaps in theUSthe mother would have said: “MacDonalds, Pizza Hut or KFC?”

In any case, dad and the kids have a clear idea about what they are going to choose between at the highest level: Hamburger, pizza or chunks of fried chicken.

Focus, clear focus has helped mum and the family to make a choice. A burger is not better than a chunk of fried chicken or a pizza. It is also not worse. It’s just different. It offers a clear and distinct choice and in the case of the burger that clear and distinct choice is associated with MacDonalds. Because they offer the hamburger option so clearly and consistently they own that choice. Good for them!

Our little model family could just as well have chosen pizza or KFC on the given Friday evening.  No matter, they had a clear and distinct choice before them. But note there is a difference here, because pizza isn’t owned by a brand name, which pizza brand they choose to support, will most probably be decided on by convenience.  In contrast hamburger is MacDonalds and chicken is KFC.

Using focus

Having a clear focused brand helps the consumer. It’s easy to choose. But how does it help the franchise?  After all, if it is easy to choose, it is by definition also easy to choose your opposition’s product, rather than yours?  True, but people make choices where and when the options are clear and distinct.

If you are vague with a foggy, smudged offering the choosing and deciding public – that is the buying public – ignores you. You need to be clear and distinct to even make it to market square!  If the consumer or client doesn’t have a clear picture of what you stand for and what you offer, you won’t come into consideration for a transaction.  You absolutely need your hamburger to get the buying public’s attention!

What you want is that your business or service is exclusively associated with the specific offering. You want to be like MacDonalds or KFC.  Think hamburger? MacDonalds, of course!  Think chicken? KFC of course! I have known a few business owners who wanted to take a short cut here, upstarts who chose as their business slogan things like “think beds, think us,” but hey, you must earn MacDonalds’ identification between hamburger and brand name.  It’s not simply there for the taking.  But that is another story.

Identifying brand with product

If you manage to get the specific product or service identified with your brand name, you get the customer to choose your specific franchise whenever they choose the product. That is the position prized above all!

Note that pizza vendors are in a worse position because they need the consumer to move to a second level of choice and decision making. First the customers must decide that they don’t want hamburgers or fried chicken on that specific Friday evening and then, secondly, after having decided on pizza, they must decide on which pizza franchise.

So, go all out to get your hamburger, your symbolic flagship product or offering that is associated exclusively – or as close to that as possible – with your brand.

This is only possible if you differentiate between your products and service offerings. They must be ranked! This is what focusing means. Something is in the centre of attention and others are not.

Please note: Your hamburger need not be your most profitable product.  It is the specific offering that makes it easiest to swing the customer’s mind in your direction. It is the bait that gets the customer to your other offerings that may be more profitable or that provide a more sustainable income.  But you must have a hamburger. And you must get your hamburger right!

So, let’s return to our fictitious family who chose MacDonalds that Friday evening. As all mothers (or fathers) who innocently and well-meaningly offered to buy takeaways well know, this is where the fun starts!

Suddenly Missy Teenager says, “I am on a diet, I only want a slimmer’s salad, otherwise I won’t fit into my matric farewell dress.”  Little Boet opines: “I wan’t a large chips and a coke too.”  Dad wants coffee with his Big Double Quarter Pounder with cheese and chips. And mum in the end decides on a chicken wrap.

Choosing right

So, what happened to the burger?  Well, more often than not being focused in business still means that you need a menu of secondary items: the compliments that go with the burger:  fries and Coke; the secondary menu items: the slimmer’s salad, coffee, the chicken wraps.

Positioning  your brand is about getting the hamburger. About getting the right hamburger and then managing the burger in the context of your extended menu.

But first, you must get your hamburger! Have you got one? Or do you show clients an undifferentiated menu with no hierarchy?  Do you have a hamburger or a list?

Bertie du Plessis
Bertie du Plessis founded his successful consultancy firm, MindPilot, 17 years ago. He names several of South Africa’s blue chip corporations among his client list and has taught as a lecturer and guest lecturer in six different disciplines at tertiary institutions. His fin24.com blog is the most read business blog on the 24.com domain. Visit Bertie Du Plessis's website for more information.