Marketing 101 – Position and Perceptual Mapping
FIRM FIXED IDEAS
Marketing position and perceptual mapping is a valuable tool used in research to visually represent the comparative metrics and dimensions of products, brands, and services.
“When you throw dirt, you lose ground.” – Texas Saying
One of the issues that crops up in every organization is when everyone has different priorities for tasks and views the weights attached to those tasks differently. Unity is when everyone has a somewhat uniform perspective within the company at any given time. Meetings are held to unify us, special events, group activities, projects, inter-department meet ups, it’s all been strategically created with the goal of unifying everyone.
Ultimately everyone works together but you want all of your resources working cohesively and cooperatively to be as efficient as possible. Within this complex chain of efficiency lies position and perceptual mapping. Internally, these tools are used to help unify an organization and realign the goals and priorities so everyone is helping and maximizing their efforts.
Externally, this tool is utilized by marketing research to inform the company of how certain customers view specific metrics. The best example of this is asking customers what brand offers the best, “bang for your buck.” This simple comparison we do in our everyday lives compares the cost metric to the value dimension.
The image above is the standard design for any position and perceptual mapping. I will walk you through how to set this up and conduct your own mapping.
You have a question that if you knew the answer to, you could make your company, brand, product, or service more focused, and therefore create more value. The question needs to have a metric and a dimension; two key performance areas that make up the question.
“Compared to our competitors who has the most reliable product for the price?”
A representative audience and a limited-bias format of delivering that question and deriving answers should be used. The audience should be relevant to the population of clients, customers, whatever group the question pertains to.
The question should be non-partisan, should not lead them, and be conducted professionally. You want to extract quantifiable data not qualitative data, so use scales or assigned values to represent their answer choices. You can also compare each element to each other and create an ordered list which can be turned into a simple scale.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being best and 1 worst, which of these five companies are reliable?”
Results should be tallied, statistical review completed, and all relevant data should be there with the presentation of results. The scaling should match what we will see on the map. The answers will produce a value for the metric, and a value for the dimension (X-value, and Y-Value) that you will essentially graph.
“Company Z, has 8 for reliability, but only 4 for price (8, 4).”
Present and evaluate results (think scientific method). There are a few considerations when it comes to mapping. The position and perceptual map is a limited view based on the people interviewed, it represents how people see the elements when compared with only that dimension and metric, and only shows you how something is currently viewed. Maps can become outdated quickly, everyone is competing and trying to interpret trends and predict the future, so anticipating shifts means redoing the map constantly.
“Right now, Company T is viewed as the price leader to our audience with a 10, while Company J is the reliability leader with a 9.”
The perceptual/positioning map is just that, a perspective, and a view of how things are in the mind of those asked. These are not rigid maps to buried treasure or gold for your company. In fact they may often be skewed and contain any amount of error because the measurement is not perfect.
These maps should be used to match and alleviate position imbalances, help you plot goals, and try to stay relevant. You can identify characteristics you may not have considered – representing fresh opportunities and market share you can conquer.
Marketing positioning and perceptual mapping is scientific but is limited in scope. Map what truly matters by starting with a hypothesis and test for it with professional research. We all know how hard it is to unify, it’s wishful and hopeful, but something must be done to focus and streamline goals and priorities.