Why The Product Positioning That Worked Then Doesn’t Work Now

by Sean Boyce

There’s a reason why marketing invests heavily into experimentation.  This is because the market isn’t static, it’s ever changing. Constant testing and research is necessary to stay on top of the latest trends.  

Depending on the market your product lives in, it could change at a faster or slower pace.  Regardless, you can take to the bank that it is going to change and you must be preprepared to change with it.  

Have you ever been in a situation where your product was selling well and getting people excited, but now it doesn’t seem to have as strong an effect as it did then?

If so, you’re not alone.  This happens to most product businesses.  What causes this is a shift in your market.  In this case, what’s happened is your product was previously positioned more closely to your market than it is now.  To put it simply, the positioning that worked previously won’t any longer because of this shift in your market.

An example of this is when the new iPhone hit the market back in 2007 and the impact it had on BlackBerry.  At the time, BlackBerry dominated the smartphone market. No one thought they could ever be dethroned. People loved their BlackBerry phones (including me).  I had a BlackBerry Pearl back then and man did I think I was cool. Well, not that cool, I was still an engineer.  

What proceeded to happen over the next few years seemed to do so in an instant for BlackBerry.  Their market share began to fall and continued to do so all while Apple’s iPhone continued to skyrocket in popularity.  

So what happened that led to the downfall of BlackBerry, largely at the hands of the iPhone?

The market shifted and BlackBerry ignored it.

Apple brought innovation to the market and consumers fell in love.  How did BlackBerry respond? Well they largely ignored all the disruption because in many ways they thought they couldn’t lose.

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BlackBerry didn’t update their product positioning relative to what the market was now demanding.  

If you’re seeing the early signs of a drop off in the effectiveness of your product positioning, what can you do to get back on track?

Realize your market is ever-changing

Your market is dynamic and as such, will be constantly changing.  How much? Well that depends on your market. Medicine changes relatively slowly whereas tech moves at lightspeed.  Be prepared to adjust relative to your industry.  

As the needs of your market change, so must your product and likewise your product positioning.  If your product is to be set up for success, not only must it solve critical problems for your customers, but the messaging around exactly how your product will do that for them must be clear.  Position your product for success by responding to the needs of the market as quickly as you can.  

Respect the competition

Are your competitors making progress in your industry?  Why or why not? You must ask yourself these questions constantly.  Keep an eye on the competition. It will give you a great deal of insight into what is changing in your market.  You’ll be able to watch companies rise and fall as they test various value propositions. The ones that stick around and grow are doing something right and they ones that don’t have obviously made missteps.  Use this information to your advantage whenever you are updating the positioning for your product.

Want to know how to update the positioning for your product?  Let’s talk it through, email me at sean@nxtstep.io or visit us on the web at NxtStep.

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Ready for your product to be rescued?  Check out Product Rescue from NxtStep.  

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