Positioning Product With a Sledge Hammer

I continue to be amazed at how sensitive the sales engine can be to your product positioning. After all – the product is the same functionality with the same general need, price and value. However – over the past few years our product positioning has changed fairly drastically. Much of this change in positioning has been due to market conditions and market needs. What I have learned is that you need to be constantly aware of your product positioning and how market conditions can impact that positioning.

In 2003, we created Safe2Change to be the preeminent solution to screen address changes for the possibility of identity theft. In positioning the product, our key messages focused on “taking a bite out of crime” and “stop the fraud losses”. While that all sounded good, it didn’t really end up with us taking the world by storm. At that time, identity theft was quickly becoming a national story. Identity Theft was hot – and we felt our positioning was well suited for those market conditions.

Unfortunately – while the topic was “hot”, our customers weren’t buying into it. Why? Because, even though it was a hot topic, our typical client was not being impacted by the rise in identity theft in a meaningful way.

Flash forward a few years to 2008 and the marketplace changed again. Identity theft was still relatively hot, but in late 2007, the FTC came forward and mandated that by November of 2008 that all financials institutions needed to screen address changes to meet the new FACT Act compliance standards. Suddenly, we changed our positioning from “stop the fraud” to “Safe2Change is the most cost-effective way to meet compliance”.

It was a good move and allowed to us to bring up over 500 banks prior to the compliance deadline. However, I don’t think it was necessarily our product positioning that drove that response. The reason most bought was purely out of fear. They had to do something and Safe2Change was available.

While we did bring up more than 500 institutions, that only meant that about 20,000 chose something else, and for the lion’s share – these institutions chose to send first class letters to consumers who changed their address as their compliance solution.

Once this was adopted in late 2008, the last thing the banks were thinking about in 2009 was changing to something else. In 2009, I think we were most interested in trying to find a cave to hibernate in. Banks were not interested in changing solutions and didn’t have the resources to change anyway.

As we entered 2010, suddenly we saw logic and rationality return to our clients and prospects. Further, our clients began to realize how painful their letter mailing compliant solution really was. As we got deeper into things, we also realized how ineffective that a letter mailing strategy is. In short – it is expensive, inefficient and a bigger problem than people first realized.

As such – we once gain found ourselves evaluating the positioning. We had gone from “stop fraud” to “best compliant solution”. While those strategies may have made sense for the market dynamics at the time, it was no longer top of mind. Suddenly – it was all about cost and expense.

We quickly shifted gears and focused on cost as our main positioning. Why? Well, as someone once put it “It’s the economy stupid”. We realized that while banks were spending needless dollars on expensive manual processes, it was not until recently that this number began to become meaningful. Suddenly saving half of postage fees for a year means I don’t have to cut 3 more headcount.
This new positioning is now paying dividends. Since adopting this, it has become our sledge hammer. Are you interesting in saving millions of dollar sounds pretty good. This positioning in 2003 or 2008 did not have any meaning. Now it does. It is generally the same product, the same general needs with the same pricing – but the positioning has changed to meet the changing market need.

Kleenex would have been a lot easier.


Date Posted: November 10, 2010 Author: Category:   Featured, IDI Blog

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