Denise Donohue, Donohue Associates So there I was, visiting a prospective new client. I got all excited about the client’s meat products, so I asked where I could buy some.
And that’s when the hooting started.
He handed me a brochure.
“You expect me to carry this piece of paper around?” I shouted. Of course, I only shouted in my head because I really wanted to work with this guy.
And he needed to work with me — or someone, to clarify his position in the marketplace.
Back story: This company is a big success. It is a new, fast-growing processor that literally saved dozens of growers from bankruptcy when the only winged-animal meat processor took flight out of Michigan.
A university guru suggested this company — let’s call it “MeatX” — needed assistance pulling together its market positioning, communications and consumer/retail activities.
When I cold-called to set the meeting, the secretary said they needed such help.
But the marketing guy thinks it’s doing well enough.
That is too bad, because it has adopted a market position that makes the entire company vulnerable.
A lot of companies, MeatX included, don’t understand market positioning. It is the starting point for selling, and requires you to decide what kind of player you want to be in the marketplace. After that, you create logos, websites and other promotables to support this niche.
Example No. 1: If you want to supply upscale stores, you won’t pack apples rattling around in plain brown boxes. That’s the dollar-store market position: Look cheap.
Example No. 2: If you want to sell to an upscale store, put a special neck tag on your asparagus with a quick-response code back to the family farm story. Customers of upscale stores care about stuff like that.
If you have a unique feature some consumers care about, your best market position is selling where those folks shop and telling them about your feature. That’s how you cash in on the feature.
MeatX wants to be appreciated for its humane, innovative, socially responsible methods of processing its winged animal into meat. It was truly a pioneer at it and deserves kudos.
It could score huge points with consumers for its sustainability story — and the healthfulness of its products, commitment to inner-city revitalization and staggering growth at the expense of “big guys.”
But to date, MeatX has chosen the invisible position in the marketplace, a.k.a. private label. Those private labels are paying the bills nicely today, and they’re planted firmly and anonymously on MeatX’s price and service.