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In Focus: We've segmented, we've targeted - now let's position ourselves for success

Our In Focus series of articles originally appeared in The Leadership Bulletin, a free weekly bulletin for leaders and managers. You can subscribe here.

Over the last few weeks, the Bulletin has been focusing on the Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning (STP) model. Firstly, we looked at how customers can be segmented by demographics, location or behaviours; next, we turned to what you should consider when choosing a segment to target (e.g. profitability, size, growth, your suitability to serve them).

This week, for the third and final instalment on the STP model, we turn to positioning.

Positioning basically means how you will put yourself in the best possible position to appeal to the customers you want to target. As with so many things, this is easiest if you have a framework for thinking through the issues. For example, you could approach this is by looking at the Four Ps of Marketing - product, place, price and promotion:

  • Product. Which of your products are the key customer segment going to most want? It might be that you’re focusing on relatively few high-end, high margin sales; this will inevitably require a different approach to marketing than if you’re selling lots of goods across a range of price points. Research your customers and their buying habits and align your products with their known and revealed ways of purchasing.

  • Place. Where will people see your product? The most obvious distinction is often between whether they will find you online or in person, but there can be finer details you want to consider. Younger shoppers, for example, are more likely to buy via their phone than on a traditional PC or laptop, so successfully positioning yourself for the 18-30 market would require a website highly optimised for mobile sales.

  • Price. Next, consider - and research, wherever possible - what your key customer segment is willing to pay for your products or services. Ask yourself: (a) is there an industry benchmark that your competitors charge that you need to compete with? (b) is your product distinct in some way that means people will pay more, e.g. higher quality or speedier delivery? or (c) how price sensitive are your customers and how can you build this into your pricing model?

  • Promotion. Finally, how can you attract the key customers to your business? Where will they see you (if you’re advertising online, are they more likely to be on LinkedIn or TikTok, for example?). Might something more traditional, like a newspaper advert or a billboard, attract who you need? Consider how your competitors target their customers and determine what you can do both to match and then improve on what they do.

That brings this three-part series on the Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning Marketing Model to an end. You can read the previous two features via the Leadership Bulletin archive here. I suspect this model didn’t necessarily tell you anything that, if you sat down and thought about it, you wouldn’t have determined yourself; but too often, as we’re working ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ our organisations, it’s easy to stay in the weeds and not consider the fundamentals of who our customers are, which ones we most want to reach, and how we can do so. I hope our exploration of this model has helped you to do just that.