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Why It Matters: Positioning

    Why It Matters: Positioning

    Why learn about positioning?
    Two young guys pose on either side of a young woman. The guys are wearing colorful Kermit the Frog and Gonza costumes constructed out of balloons. The three are attending the San Diego Comic Convention.

    Ever since you were small, you have loved special occasions and gatherings. It started with sprawling extended-family picnics when you were a child. From there, you graduated to bigger and more elaborate events: attending fairs and grand openings, crashing weddings and voter conventions, wandering through business expositions at the local convention center. In fact, one of your favorite memories is of the time you sneaked into the legendary Consumer Electronics Show when you were visiting your cousin in Las Vegas. As far as you’re concerned, the more people, the bigger the party and the better.

    Now, as an adult, you’ve landed a job with Shindiggity, an events management firm that specializes in putting on conferences, trade shows, and events for industry associations and companies. You love getting to meet new people, travel, and work on making fun, memorable events.

    Here’s the challenge: Shindiggity is relatively small and new on the events management scene. Although events management is a growing area for business services, it’s also a fairly crowded field. When you google “events management company,” you get 432 million results. Shindiggity is easily lost in the crowd.

    At Shindiggity’s annual retreat, employees from across the company are divided into several groups, and each group is given the same task: How can we get Shindiggity to stand out from the competition?

    You realize that the VP from your division has been assigned to your group and that this is a great chance for you to impress her with your creativity and initiative. You also want to help your company be successful. Right off, you jot down some questions to focus your thinking:

    • What makes Shindiggity better than competitors? Is it the quality of events? The creative ideas? The amazing people? The way it uses technology to make things smoother and more efficient? Something else?
    • Who do we need to talk to about Shindiggity, and what will make them decide to give us a try?
    • How can we make sure they remember Shindiggity and what we stand for?

    These are critical questions you need to answer in order to help your company (and, you think, impress the VP). At the core, they are questions about positioning and differentiation: What position do you hold in customers’ minds? What position do you want to hold? How are you different in positive ways that make you stand out from the pack?

    If Shindiggity can’t figure out how to make a lasting impact in customers’ minds, it won’t win enough clients to stay in business. And, if it goes out of business, you’ll be job hunting instead of continuing to do the work you love. On the other hand, if you come up with great ideas, you may help Shindiggity position itself effectively against competitors, which could lead to new business and—who knows?—to more job responsibility or a promotion for you. It’s pretty obvious which scenario you decide to pursue.

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