Mel Sokotch

How to stress test your brand's positioning...

If ROI is the ultimate test of positioning, then "how your customers describe your brand" is the penultimate test...

Remember, effective marketing gets target customers describing your brand with language that's close to your brand's positioning. And the best positionings do three things well: 1) differentiate from competition, 2) compel action, and 3) can be written into a short declarative sentence. Here are several terrific examples:

  • Williamsburg, VA is the place where one can experience colonial America (10 words)
  • Dan Brown writes popular novels that probe secret societies (9)
  • Bayer is the aspirin that reduces the risk of heart attack (11)

As for stress testing your brand's positioning, here's a way that's easy, elegant, demanding:

First, write down the declarative sentence you'd want your customer to play back when asked to describe your brand. Make sure it's no more than 10, 12 words. Next, get a projectable sample of target customers to describe your brand in just one sentence. This can ususally be done at minimal cost via one of the Do-It-Yourself on-line research services.

If the research shows that your customer's definition approximates yours, then congratulations, your marketing program is working well.

But if the words don't match, if they're clearly different, then stop what you're doing, figure out if the problem is with your positioning or with your program, and get it fixed fast. If you don't, you're giving your competition an opening they're sure to walk through.

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