Never “Knowingly Undersold” – Will your positioning statement stand the test of time?

Two weeks ago John Lewis announced it is set to launch its biggest marketing push to date (£23 million) in the run-up to Christmas, to promote its 86-year old “Never Knowingly Undersold” positioning (see the article from Marketing here).

For any business to be successful it needs to have a clear positioning – an understanding of where its products or services fit within the market place. This is often articulated in a positioning statement – a one to two sentence description about what the business is, what it stands for and why people should buy from it. It’s not a catchy strap line but a  meaningful statement about what the company represents, an articulation of the brand and a point of differentiation.

A business that does not understand its positioning will not be paralysed when it comes to marketing itself as it will not know what it is communicating and to whom. To develop your positioning (or even test what you perceive to be your positioning) ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What is your business?
  • Who is your target market?
  • What do your target market want?
  • Who do you compete against
  • What makes your business different?
  • What unique benefit is derived from your product or services?

Your positioning must be true to the business and will only have any value if it is believable.

The John Lewis “Never Knowingly Undersold” pledge engenders a feeling of trust, a feeling that you’re buying quality but not at a premium price. It is so core to the company that despite falls in operating profit of 54.5% in the first six months of 2011, announced just one day after the news of its Christmas advertising push,  John Lewis is committed to its pledge and sees the longer term benefit. 86 years in the making it is not due to be replaced any time soon.

What is your positioning and will it stand the test of time?

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