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Putting you and your company in position to own your market

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Americans have always liked their coffee hot. But then Starbucks made hot coffee desirable, in demand, and extraordinarily profitable. And then Starbucks made coffee "cool" with its super-popular iced Frappucino drink -- just as trendy, fashionable, and universally appealing.

Starbucks is no doubt one of the greatest marketing stories of recent history. How this company turned an unassuming beverage into an icon of sophistication and taste is no mystery, however. It's all about a marketing tenet called positioning.

The coffee company started out in Seattle's Pike Place market in 1971 as a single gourmet coffee shop, and by 1995, the chain's earnings were $26.1 million. Marketing experts agree that Starbucks' skyrocket to fortune centers on its aesthetic sense. In other words, the public's perception of Starbucks has to do with how it appreciates this company's style. Sure, Starbucks filled a need and created unique product brands, but what attracts coffee drinkers again and again is the experience of the Starbucks environment and its products. Smooth, sophisticated, artistic: These are seductive qualities even for a business based on a little brown bean.

The Starbucks story illustrates at least two powerful marketing principles. Both help us to better understand effective positioning, or the process of finding a "place" for ourselves in people's minds: People buy for their own reasons, not anyone else's.

The stronger position is found in the experience, outcome, or benefit you provide as opposed to the methods you use for producing those outcomes. Starbucks shows us that it's not about packaging -- it's about positioning. The environment of Starbucks creates an experience that invites us to come study for exams, hang out and philosophize with friends, or get the day started with a warm cup of java and the morning news. Starbucks is an invitation to linger, not just get your coffee and go.

When you are assessing your own position and considering how you might improve your image and thus your market share, remember that there are essentially four winning positions: better, different, faster, or cheaper. You can certainly position yourself as one of these, perhaps even two; capturing a position as three of them is tough and probably not desirable, and cornering all four is just about impossible.

Not everyone is up to the task of creating another Starbucks. It's tempting, with price wars so rampant, to believe that a perception of being cheapest is easiest to establish. Yet in truth this is the most difficult because of fixed costs. It's like doing the limbo: you can go only so low, and then you're overextended or flat on your back. Definitely not the easiest position to be in.

How about being better instead? Contrary to popular belief, this is perhaps the easiest position to take, since making an improvement or simply creating the impression of greater quality or ability has no constraints. One tip: when you capture the different category, you may get the better category as a by-product.

Starbucks capitalized on this technique, as did Dennis Rodman, the oddball of basketball. He came up with a way to take two positions in fans' eyes: both different and better. Okay, maybe he wasn't actually better than his teammate Michael Jordan, who was unbeatable, but certainly he was perceived for a time as better (cooler, trendier) among those who were captivated by his style. His fashion and fascinating antics made him so unique that he became unforgettable. And because he was also an excellent ball handler, he became famous and highly regarded in his sport.

BMW has also taken the better-different approach. Until fairly recently, Mercedes-Benz had the better luxury car market sewn up, so BMW -- a competitor with a parity product -- simply repositioned itself. Its tag, "the ultimate driving machine," appeals to a younger crowd and gives them luxury with power and handling. This is "hip luxury," which is different from the Mercedes position, which could be summed up as "elegant luxury." And voilà: BMW became as hot and desirable as a cappucino on a wintry morning.

BMW marketers had both a strong sense of the position they wanted to hold and precisely defined their premium clients, the créme de la créme within their target market. You can do this, too. Once you've figured out what position you can successfully gain in your business, ask yourself the following. Who is my premium client? Who would be the most enjoyable and rewarding to serve? What are this client's unique desires, needs, and challenges? How can I best serve this client? What do I (or can I) provide in a unique way to help my clients achieve their business outcomes? How can I position myself as an expert in this market? With this information, you can tailor your marketing efforts -- everything you say to people, any support materials you use, even the way you dress and act -- directly to this audience to help establish your position. This is the first step to "owning your market."

Positioning is like popularity: You have to be seen in the right places and with the right people. This is more than social climbing: You learn more about your clients and they learn more about you when you frequent the same places, attend the same functions, join the same associations, be published in their periodicals, and develop products and services specifically for them.

Positioning is as much about who you are not as it is about who you are. Starbucks is not a cheaper and faster cuppa joe; it is an upscale, gourmet coffee experience. BMW is no old-style luxury; it is stylish performance. Dennis Rodman is no gentleman forward; he is the outrageous, extreme athlete who is a recognized celebrity even for people who don't know basketball from billiards.

Do you want to win big? If so, have the courage to answer these questions clearly and define your own game: Who are you? Who are you not? Who are your clients? These are the essential decisions you must make if you want to not only understand but own your market.

James Arthur Ray of James Ray International is an expert in teaching individuals how to achieve Harmonic Wealth? in all areas of their life by focusing on what they want, opposed to what they don't want. He has been speaking to individuals as well as Fortune 500 companies for over 20 years and is the author of four books and an inventor of numerous learning systems. His studies of highly successful people prove that they continually achieve results by taking control of their thoughts and actions to create and shape their own reality.

The Power to Win seminar (http://www.ThePowerToWin.com) will explain in detail how success is state of mind and how the principles of quantum physics (as seen in the movie What the Bleep) can be applied to proven success-building techniques. James will also cover why people who are successful in one area of their life tend to be successful in all areas. For more information, visit http://www.ThePowerToWin.com.

Article Source: Messaggiamo.Com


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