So far my focus has been on collaboration over raising awareness of the problem you and your immediate competitors address. This post covers the next step on the Awareness Ladder, raising awareness that solutions to the problem exist. Positioning is crucial for collaboration to work out.
People live with a problem for years, if they believe there’s no solution to it. There’s no point raising awareness of your particular offer if your market don’t believe the problem can be solved. There’s a clear advantage working together with close competitors to demonstrate the problem can be solved.
The big issue at this stage is whoever makes this breakthrough is at a big advantage, by placing their offer before an audience they’ve convinced of the possibility of finding a solution.
However, one powerful argument for collaboration is the number of possible solutions on the market. If there is only you, it is much harder to make a persuasive argument than if there are half a dozen or so relevant offers on the market.
This is where positioning helps. If you position your businesses, you segment the market. Where a prospect has sufficient information, they choose which offer is best for them.
Where you all tackle the same problem, work out what makes your offer different from all the others. Differences include:
- Specifics about your approach to the problem. Show you have a plan that solves the problem. Make the plan as distinct from your competitors as possible.
- Decisions you make about the market you serve. Take care with this because you may inadvertently restrict your market. Also be aware there may be legal constraints, for example about race. Common decisions might be to primarily serve a specific geographical location or to focus mainly on the needs of one sex. This decision is about where you choose to focus your marketing, anyone who does not fit your chosen market may be a secondary market.
- Your worldview may influence some prospects. If they know something about your political or religious affiliation, they may choose you over a competitor with similar positioning to yours. This is the most tenuous of the three approaches to positioning. It is something that might come over in conversation and not so much in your formal marketing campaign.
Make Distinctions Explicit
Once you decide on positioning, work together to clarify your differences. Here are a couple of approaches to consider.
For each person list the reasons why someone should choose you. You might start with “Consider this if you are …” and then a second list “Don’t consider this if you are …”. If everyone does this, compare the results and tweak to make sure everyone is distinct from all the others, this helps prospects decide who to approach.
However, this may be a lot for prospects to take in, especially if there are a large number of collaborators. One solution is to build a key. A key has a tree-like structure. You ask a question with two possible answers that take the prospect down the tree. Each question narrows down the number of possible options until only one business is left.
You can do this flat on the page. If you answer Yes, goto question A or if you answer No, goto question B. A more compelling approach is to use a quiz. Thrive themes have a quiz plug-in for example (affiliate link). Here jumping between questions is done for you.
These methods may help a visitor make a decision but some prefer to read details of various offers and make their own decision. Try a joint brochure that brings everyone’s business into one place and so enables the prospect to decide who to choose.
A brochure could be a website or in print. If every collaborator has their own website page, you can direct visitors to the home page or to a specific page. Print brochures may be a powerful statement if they are well-produced. They could be expensive but if presented to those who are genuinely interested may be cost-effective. And of course, costs can be shared.
But even with all this help, it’s possible the prospect will make the wrong choice. As you discuss their needs, you may find the prospect may be better off with one of your collaborators. What then?