Once it’s some one else’s, a position can’t be yours no matter how many resources you throw into the fray. It’s just not worth trying to unseat a competitor from their established position. And even if you do manage to dilute your competitor’s claim to that position, you still don’t own it. You’ve just established your own diluted claim along with that of your competitor.
So how do you find your own position?
Well, first of all, if you’ve been in business any length of time you already have positioned your business or product with your customers. Find out what that position is. Poll your customer base. Determine what they like about you, what they perceive to be your position in your product category. If you’re just getting started, you obviously don’t as yet have a position, so just go on to step two.
If you’re new, or if you’re not pleased with your current position, the first thing to do is determine the attribute and characteristics your market feels are important. This may sound superfluous, but it really isn’t. You’ll learn a lot about what attracts them to certain suppliers. It often pays to look at market segments to see if there are universal or parochial opinions about what’s important and desirable.
Next, determine what your market and market segments think about your competition in relation to those attributes and characteristics. I’d then plot your competitors “scores”. Then I’d look at the most promising pairs of attributes and plot them, too. Through this procedure you can spot unoccupied and favorable positions. Then, of course you’ll need to assess your company strengths and culture to determine if you can, or are willing to do what it takes to occupy and defend your chosen position.
The entire research process is explained on my services web site. You can see this hypothetical example by clicking Signature Strategies – positioning research.