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A New Paradigm for Positioning: Customer and Stakeholder Centricity

How to achieve buy-in for “outside-in” positioning.

We hear from a lot of clients that it’s difficult to gain traction for consumer insights, particularly those that could be strategic or transformational. Even today, when consumer expectations are changing dramatically, companies are still prone to taking what is known as an ‘inside-out’ view of their business, one that focuses upon an internal orientation. It’s an approach embedded in a real-world dilemma of using existing resources most efficiently and going to market thus.

This tension is often most apparent when we hear an organization discuss the need to re-assess their brand positioning strategy. Companies that successfully develop a new positioning take an “outside-in” approach that focuses on creating high value for the customer. Those that take an “inside-out” view tend to find less success, as they fail to recognize and integrate customer insights that lead to a new positioning strategy that delivers sales and revenue goals.

This internal resistance to integrating customer insights that will build a better “outside-in” approach to positioning happens for several reasons:

  • The current strategy is strongly supported across leaders and functions
  • Internal teams are being built or structured around existing positionings
  • There is a lack of understanding that customer insights should drive a new positioning strategy

Customer and Stakeholder Centricity: A new paradigm for internal buy-in

Developing an “outside-in” positioning requires two elements: leveraging customer value and engaging internal stakeholders. We call this approach Customer and Stakeholder Centricity, and is designed to provide guidance on key positioning issues such as:

  • How your brand is perceived today and whether re-positioning efforts are warranted
  • An understanding of your key competitors, territories they own and opportunities
  • Optimal positioning for your brand and how to get there – both internally and externally
  • Communication specifics on what to say, how and where to say it to support optimal positioning
  • How to best ensure that positioning efforts are embraced and optimized throughout your organization

Customer and Stakeholder Centricity follows a 4-step path to integrating customer insights and identifying the best positioning:

1. Appraisal
This phase engages your internal stakeholders in what the positioning work will require and how to get there through activities such as developing clarity on company goals, identifying gap areas, and prioritizing large opportunities.

2. Assessment
This provides the critical understanding of how your brand is currently perceived by your customers and prospects in a competitive context. Special attention is paid to the customer journey and where your brand needs to strongly communicate its value and benefits.

3. Optimization
In this phase, all possible positioning approaches are tested to determine which one is the most persuasive and to find key supporting messages to use at critical touchpoints along the customer journey.

4. Activation
Activating a new positioning requires that each functional team has the most relevant customer insights to deliver on the broader goals within their owned responsibilities. Developing action plans for each function, as well as outside agencies, will ensure that the new positioning based on the “outside-in” approach will be the foundation for future innovations and communications.

Want to learn more about using the Customer and Stakeholder Centricity approach for your positioning work? Contact us.