For so many years, CEOs have focused on doing things better. For a long time, this approach worked. However, a problem has surfaced over recent years as we realize that this approach is simply not working anymore.

Being better has become a basic requirement: it is what it takes just to stay in the game. Your prospects and customers have come to expect a higher level of quality and service, and, as a result, quality and service are no longer differentiators.

Before you make your next marketing move, you should be asking, "what is positioning?"

Connecting with customers is no longer just about being better: it's about having a differentiating idea.

You, the CEO, are responsible for defining what your organization's difference is, what is really called positioning, and then communicating it within your organization as well as outside of your organization. This has absolutely become your number one job.

A Positionist's Point of View
"Only two business functions produce new customers. They are marketing and innovation. All other functions are expenses."
-Peter Drucker, the father of modern management

Mr. Drucker was always ahead of the times. He knew many years ago that being different was the key to winning and keeping new customers. While it was always true, only now is it so brutally evident. While it is obvious to many in the field, I offer even more evidence to support Mr. Drucker's farsighted words of wisdom:

Profitability
^
Market Share
^
Preference
^
Awareness

This model illustrates how having a differentiated product or service provides an advantage toward getting a prospect's attention. To appreciate this, it is first necessary to understand why attention or awareness is so important.

If you are able to increase awareness, it follows that more people will try your product or service. If more folks try your product or service, then more will likely become users.

This will result in increased preference or loyalty.

With increased preference or loyalty, market share must increase, and, along with that, profitability, due to economies of scale. The math is simple.

Thus, the goal is to focus on how to increase awareness. With increased awareness, preference and market share, profitability will automatically increase. However, getting your prospect's attention has never been more difficult.

What is positioning? Positioning is simply concentrating or focusing on an idea-or even a word-that defines or differentiates your company, product, or service from the competition in the minds of your prospects and customers.

When we look more deeply into what comprises a particular brand, we find, time and again, that brilliant positioning is absolutely crucial to any brand's success.

Advertising strategies, creative executions, public relations programs, and even media plans must flow from the brand's positioning. Unfortunately, effective positioning is seldom easy to come by. With new products and services failing at rates of more than 90 percent, strategic positioning may be the only salvation.

What is positioning? It's having a simple idea that separates or differentiates the brand from your competition.

Differentiation is the art and science of standing out from the competition.

Choosing among multiple options is always based on differences. Often, this is about finding a whole new market space you can own and defend, then aligning all communications and company behaviors around it.

What is positioning? It's the key to successful marketing.

What is positioning? It's the single most powerful concept in marketing.

What is positioning? It's simply concentrating or focusing on an idea-or even a word-that defines or differentiates your company, product, or service from the competition in the minds of your prospects and customers.

Dick Maggiore is Innis Maggiore's President & CEO