What is strategic positioning?
Strategic positioning as interpreted by its definition is not what you have done for your product, but what you did with respect to the consumer’s awareness relative to perception of your product. In the present times of globalisation and recent consequences of the world economic crisis, strategic positioning as a technique of conceptualisation and defining of a unique and above all specific position of a country, region, city, club, product, organisation or an individual as such, indeed represents the key to success. It should define you in the right way with respect to your clients, partners, consumers and employees, while at the same time it should define your uniqueness in comparison to your competition.
Where is the place of strategic positioning in the economic order of the nowadays globalised world and at what level it places itself as a concept (recognition wise)?
At the beginning of the 80ies along with a specific trading revolution, the development of the first serious attempts of strategy positioning in trading have emerged as well. Practically, the first programmes of unification were made of differentiation strategy based on competition (the objective is to have a more successful and more profitable offer than the competition) and the strategy of segmenting based on consumers (the objective is to create a unique package offer for the desired consumers’ segment). Today, some thirty years later, strategic positioning has become a real business performance art because the key word in positioning is perception. Considering the fact that one is “bombed” by tens of thousands of information on daily basis, the question is to what extent each purchase or decision represents your own choice. Today, the concept of strategic positioning as such is ever so noticeable, starting with the development of the so-called Personal Positioning Concept for celebrities or politicians, through the Organization Positioning Concept for companies and non-governmental organisations, up to the GPS, i.e. the Global Positioning Strategy, the concept of positioning of a state. Strategic positioning nowadays represents the very top of the decision making process of any serious entity which desires to establish its place in the market in a proper manner, regardless of whether it sells something, offer a service or wishes to attract foreign investments.
In what countries the activities of strategic positioning have been successfully implemented so far?
My experiences have shown that the developed countries of the West were the first to make serious steps in defining of their strategic positions. The Asian countries called the Asian tigers have followed suit (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand...), and only after them come the Eastern European and some African countries. Although the GPS defining of a country as such represents a secretive domain of decisions regarding direction of development of the given country for the following fifty years and is most frequently done within specifically formed teams focused only on that task, I cannot avoid mentioning the example of Canada which established its GPS for the New Age in an excellent way. Also, Canada made it public, at least partially.
What are the sectors where activities of strategic positioning give best results?
First of all, when it all begun back in the 80ies, the best results were being achieved in the domain of cars sales and sales of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, confectionery industry and touristic offers, while today absolutely everything becomes subject to positioning – from states to individuals. The best results are not the results of selection of domains or sectors where positioning is being performed, but professional quality of experts to choose the right stimuli when the Perception Map of sectors is to be defined, and then wise establishment of strategic guidelines aimed at development of the strategy as such.
In which parts of the world and in what countries are there suitable market conditions and various types of products for activities of strategic positioning? What are the features of these potential markets aand products?
Strategic positioning is so very present nowadays in each segment of life and decision making, that they can be defined even by the naked eye of an ordinary citizen. The fact is that in some countries there are ideal preconditions to bring strategic positioning to perfection. For example, take the example of the People’s Republic of China which has even more upcoming activities of branding of its products which it desires to position in the global market (cars, traditional Chinese medicine based cosmetics, solar panels and products, electronics and household appliances, touristic offer, etc.); there are also examples of African countries which seek their unique features with respect to their touristic offer or food production. Characteristics of potential markets and products aimed at strategic positioning are by all means placed in clearly determined strategic objectives at the state level – to conquer new markets for the existing products based on generic dimension (Made in... products) or to attract direct foreign investments into own region. It all begins with our need to make the perception of others influence their decisions so that they do exactly what we want them to do (buy, visit, choose). As I said earlier, this is a real art which today sends the message – you become a winner if you market a winner.
What sectors and countries have your activities been precisely focused at?
In the profitable sector there are principally overall analyses of the GPS of a country or a city. Then, from the sectoral point of view, there is tourism, energy sector and IT industry. On the other hand, during the last ten years my methodology of strategic positioning ever more finds its place in the positioning of the NGO sector i.e. the civil society sector and raising of awareness when certain specific segments are of importance for the health of the nation or in the issues related to the renewable sources and energy efficiency.
Can you give us some more details about your activities in China?
The fact that Ewinbook – the official publisher of the Chinese Ministry of trade – published my book in Chinese language, as well as facts that I presented the economic thought of the entire Europe at the Asian CEO Forum in 2008, that I am a columnist of the Forbes China magazine and that I’ve got several front pages of reputable Chinese magazines from the economy domain, enabled me to gain insight into certain courses of strategic decision making (which are not available to the general public) in that country. I am certainly proud of my experiences in the domain of analysis of strategic positioning of China through the position of the Shaolin monastery, which represents a unique place in the world (the kung-fu school, Buddhist temple and exquisitely attractive tourist destination). This trinity of the Shaolin monastery position is a challenge I could not resist.
How do you estimate the activities of strategic positioning in Turkey? What are the weak and strong points in this respect?
I must admit I am not an expert for the Turkish market. On the level of the global GPS analyses, I can say that Turkey certainly gets the credit for the image of a good tourist destination (it offers a wide range of choice from the most exclusive all the way to the medium level family-package offers). there are also places with specific offers of the confectionery and food industry delicatessen, along with the extraordinary abilities of their trading and entrepreneurship spirit. The weak point is the insufficient commitment in the domain of deepening of certain offers’ packages. Here I primarily think that much bigger attention should be devoted to the depth of the matter you wish to position. This means that an insight from all angles and from several different perspectives is required if you wish to attract foreign consumers i.e. clients. Excessive expression of the folklore or so-called generic features can sometimes bring to an “overdose” of the offer and thus rejection of potential clients. The advice in this domain is to listen to the foreign market a bit more and wisely adjust own offer to the modern challenges accordingly. Of course, all this should be done without disturbing of the basic dimension or essence of your product. Maybe it sounds complex, difficukt and demanding, but right because of that strategic positioning is today called the art of management or marketing, depending on the offer package level of management.
What route of the international niche products marketing should be followed by the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which has a significant potential for the global market?
Primarily, it should define its potentials and then accordingly initiate the defining of the Perception Map of its market. This is principally because if it wants to be recognised – it has to define its uniqueness in comparison to the surrounding countries. Territorially small countries can by all means become recognisable by the size of its offer. This refers to the fact that they are more flexible in the domain of defining of their priorities and that they can respond with more ease to thee challenging crisis situations or globalisation. It seems to me that defining of six industrial zones which the TRNC started promoting in the function of attracting direct foreign investments – represent a good road to follow, but that even more attention should be devoted to conceptualisation of even more concrete steps on that road (defining of the prioritised fields of industry or economy and favourising of such types of companies which would synergistically bring to the development of the human resources base and then of the educational policy of the country development).
Are the energetic and mining sectors which make the grounds of the Euroasian economy where Turkey represents the linking point (and this topic found itself on the Cyprus agenda lately) suitable for strategic positioning?
Surely they are, but the fact that issues of energy and mining are nowadays ever more the issues of politics rather than the issues of economy, deduces a large part from the power of defining of a good offer package. The positioning here is based on the specific features of the geolocation position and in that domain lies the power of determination of partnership relations on a strategic level. What can make this position more significant is the introduction of modern technologies and solutions from the domain of energy efficiency; this can make the already defined potentials become even more concrete and profitable projects. The challenge is highly set, but that is where its specificum lies. There are not many countries in the world which possess such preconditions for strategic positioning and they should be used to the maximum as such.
Finally, what is the place of the non-governmental sector in strategic positioning?
When we look at this today, the place of the non-governmental sector may be vital in maintaining of a strategic position of a company or a region. One of the 7P elements in my methodology is Public opinion. One can’t believe how many firms or companies were closed down because the public opinion or the voice of citizens were strong, decisive and clearly defined – from protection of the rights of citizens as consumers to the protection of citizens as users of certain services. Also, globalisation brought to the need for new solutions and models of business operations and what is one of the three most important characteristics of defining of your strategic position today is the integral approach towards the process of defining of the same. It is this integral approach which requires taking into consideration the opinion of the civil society both in the part that relates to the evaluation of the quality of your offer and in the part that relates to the determination of the value of your position.
Questions prepared by: Niyazi Güneş Atay,
Foreign Affairs Coordinator of AESİD - EkoAvrasya
Translation into Turkish language: Dženita Oezguener