Carve Your Own Trail: Effective Product Positioning Through Distinctiveness, Not Comparison

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Bearikade outsideAre you constantly telling people that you’re like another brand but somehow superior? Positioning in this way doesn’t work well, and often leads to a race to the bottom. It’s much better to carve out your own positioning rather than draft off somebody else’s.

While it’s great if your company is bigger, faster, cheaper, shinier, or newer than the other guys, however that’s not what you should lead with when you do your sales and marketing.

Don’t focus on: “We’re like___________ but ____________.” For example, don't say that your coffee shop is "like Starbucks but more friendly". 

Instead tell us how you solve problems.

Beware of bears!

DMS hiking AT LTThis weekend I hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail / Long Trail for a few days. I was out in the wilderness for sure. While I didn’t see any bears, I knew they were around.

When out in the wilderness, you need to keep things with odors like food and personal items such as sunscreen away from your tent or shelter because they attract bears.

There are several methods to protect yourself by securing things away from where you sleep. You can use a bear canister, a secure bear bag, or the hang in a tree method.

At a shelter, several hikers started a discussion about the best strategy for bear safety. When we were talking about canisters, somebody mentioned the Bearikade, made by a company called Wild Ideas. This person said the Bearikade is light and strong, because it is made from carbon fiber.

bearikade insideInterestingly, this person had a BearVault, a competing product, and we were looking at it while he was describing the Bearikade.

I had heard of the more popular BearVault, a product sold at many retailers like REI and Amazon. I found it interesting that the other hikers I was chatting with didn’t say: “Bearikade is like BearVault but lighter”.

Bearikade was seen by these hikers as an entirely different product!

When backpacking “ounces add up to pounds and pounds add up to misery”, so the Bearikade was interesting to me.

When I got back home, I checked out the Bearikade website.

“Founded by three aero-space engineers with a passion for backpacking light. They utilized their fifty years of combined wilderness experience, and ‘Pack Light. Sleep Tight’ was perfected. We are committed to handcrafting the lightest and strongest wilderness food storage systems available.”

Nowhere did I see that this product was like the other more popular product but lighter.

After a few minutes, I ordered a Bearikade.

Product positioning is difficult. Do the work to get it right. Don’t talk about how you are better than what the other companies are doing.

AI disclosure: I wrote every word of this article. I used ChatGPT to suggest the headline.

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