Growing Your Company

Why Positioning Fails
by Mary-Lynn Bellamy-Willms

It's my unyielding belief that your firm's growth and success absolutely depend on positioning - the kind that's narrow in scope and deep in expertise.

Check out the most profitable small creative companies and you'll find this to be the case. They attract business from beyond their geographic location. As well, they can charge more for products and services, eliminate a lot of competition, implement more effective marketing programs and even increase the number of assignments without a formal pitch. It all makes sense, doesn't it?

So, why does positioning fail? Sometimes the reasons are obvious. It could be because your positioning isn't unique or different enough. Maybe there's no concrete evidence to back up the claim you make-or your claim is simply untrue. Possibly the position you've taken is not sustainable over the long haul. If you specialize in marketing newspapers, for example, you might be in trouble in a few years.

There's also a not-so-obvious reason that positioning can fail - your staff. If they don't understand your positioning - if they don't embrace and accept it - it won't matter how well you carve your place in the world, build the website to reflect it and announce your intentions to everyone. It won't work.

Here are four ways to ensure your positioning doesn't fail from the inside:

  1. Involve staff in process. Guide them through the rationale and the procedure that helped you determine your niche until you're sure they "get" it. Help them understand that a well-positioned firm will attract bigger, better clients. That means greater opportunities for the firm - and for their careers.
  2. Give your team direction. Get them involved in ways to help your company express its positioning. Let's say your firm sees itself as a specialist in marketing cosmetics. Have staff get creative with your marketing materials. For example, they might design a 'make-up bag' for your website, memo pads with a lipstick motif or business cards with mirror on one side.
  3. Promote the positioning internally by such techniques as offering free freshen-up cosmetics in your washrooms and giving staff spending money to ensure they buy and try the latest cosmetics. Perhaps they can contribute to a blog on colour trends in cosmetics, too.
  4. Help your team become evangelists for your firm. Give them rewards for leads that turn into clients. And use PR to tell your firm's story. Your team's pride, sense of belonging and excitement are magnified by good press.

The bottom line is this: If you can't sell your own team on where your company stands, how can you sell others? Positioning really does begin at home.

This article has been written by FunctionFox CEO and owner of Suburbia Advertising, Mary-Lynn Bellamy-Willms.

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