Why is my marketing not connecting with customers?

Positive Positioning Playbook

Positive positioning: Without the right positioning your marketing work might as well be lipstick on a gorilla (gorilla with makeup and jewels)

Your marketing can sparkle, creative campaigns can crackle, and budgets be burned brightly. But if the core message lacks clarity. If it does not resonate with the right audience, the entire effort fizzles out in futility.

Why? Here are five possible answers…

1. You are speaking to the wrong people

Is there a wrong customer? Well, it depends. But if you are experiencing churn (particularly in the case of a subscription product or service) it can be a sign that your proposition is not entirely clear to customers. If they don’t get what they expect, they leave. Or maybe your sales calls take a while to penetrate before the ‘penny drops’ with potential customers?

Or worse. You’d be surprised how often I speak to a client’s customers, only to hear a very different description of the product or service. If your customers have a different perception of what you do and, more importantly, the value you bring, you have a positioning problem.

You know what you’re selling, But what are they really buying?
Garrett Reil

The good news is that your customers often hold the key to unlock your future positioning.

e.g. Nestle spent years trying to peddle a pod coffee system to small shops and offices without the space for an espresso machine. Repositioning it as a luxury home product which is convenient and cleaner than coffee grounds has made it one of the world’s most successful brands.

2. A Clarity Conundrum

In marketing and sales clarity is king (consistency is queen). A foggy positioning strategy is no platform for building great marketing. Most often, I find it’s because of a failure to identify and prioritise the concerns of your key audience. Time and again when consulting with businesses, I have found an unpolished diamond of an idea lurking in their many, many messages to market. Often, it’s fear of taking one particular direction that’s holding them back.

While it’s tempting to be all things to all people, the muddled message gets lost. You’re missing out the people who have the potential to become your biggest fans.

Positioning sage Al Ries:
Without a clear, focused message, your marketing effort is wasted.

3. Differentiation Dilemmas

If your positioning lacks differentiation, how is your advertising or marketing going to fare? It’s not about being marginally better than your alternatives; it’s about being meaningfully different. If your product or service doesn’t stand out as the obvious choice for some clear, compelling reason, it’s easy to get lost in the ‘sea of sameness.’

Sure, strong visuals can help differentiate you, but if the core positioning is weak, it’s lipstick on your positioning gorilla.

I’ve found that many businesses are focused on their perceived competitors, more than on the real alternatives to their product. And bear in mind, the greatest enemy here is ‘do nothing’, or ‘proceed as before’.

38% of B2B sales processes end in no decision.
Challenger Inc, 2020

4. Price Comparisons vs Positive Positioning?

Price wars might get you deals in the short term, but the bitter taste is lasting. Medium to long term, this leaves you more vulnerable to attach by competitors and new entrants, like tech disruptors. In many ways discounting it’s the opposite of Positive Positioning, in the sense that you’re acknowledging your competitors are the same and offering price as the only advantage. Price has a part to pay, of course, but perceived value* is where your advantage lies.

*e.g. Aldi’s price has little relevance if you don’t believe in their quality.
The problem with the race to the bottom is – you might win.
Seth Godin

The Baseline

Positive Positioning is the foundation on which your marketing and sales should stand. Weak positioning undermines the entire structure, leading to discounting or price based deals, leaving campaigns adrift, conversions scarce, and customer retention threatened. No amount of tweaking the visuals or fine-tuning the messages will help, when it’s about getting the foundation right first.

Better to bold and be noticed, or bland and blend in?

While you’re at it, don’t settle for half measures. Clarity is essential, but when achieved, in most markets — you will need a little more. Deliver your message with a strong easily understood idea at the core. Being distinctive is critical if you want to cut through and be remembered.

Whatever your marketplace, remember most people are very busy, even distracted. You are going to interrupt their day, so do it in a positive way – give them a reason to care. And think about how and why they will remember you.

Ask yourself at every stage of the process, why should anyone care?
Garrett Reil

Take action now!

Finding your high-performance Positive Positioning is not an option; it’s a necessity. The foundation of your sales and marketing efforts requires a robust, resonant meaning that’s magnetic to your audience. Take the time to reexamine, recalibrate, and reposition. Invest in a powerful positioning strategy, and give your sales and marketing efforts a competitive advantage.

If you need some expert help developing your positioning strategy, or examining your existing positioning, get in touch.