Positioning = Patience and Persistence
This time of year, I begin to long for spring and boating season. I live in Wisconsin, where water is plentiful—we have lakes of all shapes and sizes. Right now, however, that water is in solid form.
A decade ago, I had an experience with a boating start-up. The owner had been an integral part of a well-known boat brand for several years and then—with his son—started his own company. The early going was tough. I was friends with their then sales/marketing person, who needed some ads done, quickly. I wrote the copy and another friend handled graphics. Their company scrambled to have some professional photos shot of their only finished model in action.
The product was positioned to be upscale and high-quality, and was built that way. The target was the boater who loved to spend a day on the water fishing, yet have the ability to dock at an elegant waterfront restaurant without looking out of place. This skipper could afford the best in materials and accessories, as well as the fuel to satisfy the "need for speed" while crossing large bodies of water. Three models were designed. A dealer network was developed. Boats were taken to boat shows in hopes that they'd be allowed to exhibit. If the owner hadn't had the reputation in the industry, they wouldn't have gotten in the door. No matter how difficult it was, and how much pushback they got from perspective dealers, they were persistent in their positioning and price.
It is a decade later. They have two divisions building 18 different standard models along with fully-customized options. They are thriving. Their website and social media marketing is fantastic. They have dealers in my area now, in a totally different part of the country—in an area otherwise dominated by dozens of longer-established boat brands. I see them everywhere on the water.
While they've tremendously extended their reach—they've not changed one single thing in their positioning.
What sets you apart? Never lose that—use it! Remember:
- You're the expert—don't flinch when a challenge comes your way. Embrace it—and reinforce your credibility
- Don't drop your price just to get in the door, or you're only as good as your cheapest competition... and it's nearly impossible to shake that perception
- Start simply—don't try to be all things to all people
- Only look backward when it can help you move forward
- Red sky at night, sailor's delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning