Why you must be your market’s most visible leader

Last week we talked about how you can become a market leader using some simple strategies to position you and your business as a leader of your market. I’ve worked with many early stage businesses and technologies and have discovered the earlier you begin putting this foundational element into place, the more quickly your business grows and becomes profitable.  Let me share three key elements to successfully brand your organization as a thought leader or innovator in your market and what it does for your growth and long term success.  I’ll share the potential problems along this path, if you choose to use this strategy.

The first key to create a market leading position is that you have a vision for your market. Every leader I’ve known has a clear vision of what role his organization plays in the overall economic environment. This critical element is not just that you have a unique view of the market but that you are able to clearly articulate your view in such a way that your clients, partners, and stakeholders see themselves in your vision.  To build a small business you can have a small vision for your market.  If you hope to achieve sales beyond $100 million you also have to have a larger view of the market and its impact on your customers’ businesses. The more you can share this vision, the more believable it will becomes. You must believe what you are saying or you shouldn’t say it. You can be future directed but it must meet people where they are before you move them to where you want them to go. The key lesson I learned in the military was people want to be led and they want to be led by people who understand where they are going. The clarity of the image in your own thinking helps create a clear picture for the people you’re working with.

The second key of positioning your organization is you have a different point of view. If you position your products and services as just like everyone else, you can’t hope to sustain a competitive edge in the global marketplace.  When sharing your products and services you must determine what your market sees as critical not what your marketing team sees as critical. Today, buyers have many more choices in everything they buy. Creating a different point of view helps you distinguish your offering from your competitors. For many of my professional clients, we take a contrarian point of view.  We take what the customer knows (or thinks they know) and shift it into something that they want to know more about. Depending on your marketplace it can go from a small difference to going out and attacking the business norms they expect. The more radical the view, the more it will need to address both the emotional and logical needs of your clients. Don’t be afraid to make waves. I have seen several clients take an opposing point of view to incredible success in their markets.  As you create your point of view, consider what strengths and unique capabilities you bring to the market. If you’re the founder of the business, do not be afraid to share your creative process with your clients. For example, Dyson inventor James Dyson takes you through his product development process to help you better understand why his products were built differently than many of his leading competitors. He also goes out of his way to incorporate the design elements in his marketing campaigns. I would never have imagined people were interested in the design qualities of their vacuums. He did and has grown a highly successful business in a short time.  The final thought about this is that you don’t always have to have a totally different product to succeed in the marketplace, but how you talk about it must stand out in your customers’ minds.

The third key to success in positioning your products and service is you have to make it an easy idea to share with others. We live in a social media, sound bite-driven world.  Long copy sells today but not the way it once did. Consider how you plan to share your ideas with others. You are the messenger and you must develop powerful messaging if you hope to connect with your markets’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations. While we are talking about messaging, it must also fit you and your own leadership style. Today more than ever consumers have built in lie detectors and tune you out if you are not authentic in your messaging and beliefs.  Make sure that you create a person that you can live with over the long haul. The more you focus on short term results the less likely you are to have long term success.  Don’t try to be someone you’re not.

Next week, we will talk about how you get and maintain your market’s attention. It’s not enough to have a single success.  If you’re building a successful business, you must be able to sustain your success and your reader’s interests over the long term.  We will give you several great strategies to get noticed in your market.  See you then.

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