Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It All Begins with Positioning

When you think about the practice of marketing, functions such as advertising, sales, and product development likely come to mind. These elements are essential to marketing execution, but they must follow another crucial task: Understanding customers. The American Marketing Association defines marketing as:

"the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."

It is not possible to create, communicate or deliver value without first knowing customers and the effects of the marketing environment on customers and the organization. In turn, this insight equips an organization to create, communicate, and deliver what will please customers while benefiting the organization.

What is Positioning?

In Chapter 1 of Sports Marketing, positioning is identified as one of the five Ps of the sports marketing mix. It is no coincidence that positioning is placed in the center of the graphic below. Why? Positioning must be the center of all marketing activity. Any decisions made without a firm grasp on needs and wants of the market are risky, at best.

Positioning as used in the sports marketing mix is different than the usual definition of the term positioning, which refers to a point of difference a brand holds relative to competition in customers' minds. In the sports marketing mix, positioning is all about understanding customers, in effect enabling an organization to position itself to carry out the definition of marketing. Decisions impacting the other four Ps (platform, promotion, people and profits) should be based on the understanding of customer consumption, the external marketing environment, and market segmentation resulting from analyzing the customer and external environments.

Gatorade: Reinventing through Positioning

A sound marketing decision can ultimately be traced back to an organization's positioning efforts. An example of this connection is how Gatorade is developing the next generation of sports drinks. Gatorade is an iconic brand that invented the sports drinks category. However, declining sales and competition from brands outside the sports drink category like Red Bull, Monster, and Vitaminwater have led Gatorade to revisit the positioning element of its marketing.

Gatorade is looking to create value for athletes by incorporating technology to help determine optimal quantity of fluid intake as well as the appropriate levels of carbohydrates, calories, and electrolytes given an athlete's individual needs. Check out this video from Gatorade on how it partnered with Brazil's national soccer team to deepen its understanding of users and translate it into better product offerings.

Gatorade can leverage its positioning efforts to pursue additional opportunities beyond improvements in sports drinks. The company is targeting other food products to market that fulfill the same desire of fueling one's body for optimal performance.

Other Examples?

Can you identify an organization or brand that excels at managing the positioning element of the sports marketing mix to uncover and pursue business opportunities?