In Part 10 of Building Your Freelance Writing Brand, you learned about brand positioning in terms of owning a word in consumers’ minds. There is another part of brand positioning that you need to consider before you begin to develop strategies to market your business within your industry.
There are three basic positions that your brand and business can hold in the marketplace — market leader, market challenger, or market follower. It’s important for you to evaluate the position your business currently holds in comparison to your competitors in the market today, and determine if that is the correct positioning strategy for you to pursue in the future.
First, you need to understand those three positions, which are described in more detail below:
1. Market Leader
The market leader is usually the first-to-market and offers a new solution. Market leaders are often referred to as the pioneer brand. They are considered to be innovative and creative, and they usually hold the majority of market share in their categories. As a market leader, they have to invest a great deal of money to build awareness, recognition, and sales, but if they’re successful, the rewards can be significant.
Later entrants into the category can compete against the market leader, and they might even surpass the market leader in terms of sales, revenues or market share. However, the pioneer brand will still be perceived in the minds of consumers as the market leader. Usually, something drastic has to happen for a market leader to fall from grace in consumers’ minds.
2. Market Challenger
Market challengers are considered to be innovative, but their creativity is quite different from the market leader’s. That’s because a market challenger typically recreates a product, brand or service that the market leader originated. However, the market challenger brings something new to the table and might even reinvent the category. Market challengers strive to differentiate their products, services and brands as very different from the market leader. They might even attack the market leader and point out the leader’s weaknesses (think of the Mac Guy vs. PC Guy commercials).
A market challenger strategy requires a significant investment to drive awareness and clearly differentiate the challenger from the market leader or pioneer brand, but if it works, a market challenger can be extremely successful.
3. Market Follower
A market follower simply follows the path of success which the market follower already carved out. Market followers aren’t particularly innovative. Instead of trying to bring something new to the table, market followers are simply trying to get a piece of the existing pie of proven success. Market followers position their products, services and brands as just different enough from the market leader that they appear to deliver added value while still meeting the expectations consumers have for the market leader. As you might assume, a market follower strategy is the least expensive positioning strategy, because the market leader does all the heavy lifting. The market follower simply tries to be in the right place at the right time to pick up all the extras.
Don’t read the above positioning strategies and think you need to choose one and stick to it forever. Most businesses find themselves shifting from one position to another over the course of their life cycles or within niche segments of its offerings. The important thing that you need to determine in order to build your freelance writing brand is where you are now and where you want to be in the long term. Think about your long term business goals and determine which position will help you reach those goals.
Stay tuned for the next part of the Building Your Freelance Writing Brand series where I’ll talk about strategies to fight against the competition.