Positioning a mature product

When I started working as a marketing manager I was entrusted with a mature product. It had a long history behind it, a philosophy that was there for about 10 years. And that philosophy was mostly centered around features and user experience but marketing was always made cutting the corners. Not to say there were no marketing activities — there were and plenty! The improvements on the website, optimization of the sales funnel, surveys, A/B tests — here are some just to name a few. A big one was that sometime before I started working customer development became a thing and there was a lot of essential data that helped me to grasp the product and people using it.

The problem was that there was no marketing strategy.

Marketing strategy and positioning. How are they connected?

Marketing strategy is essentially a clear answer to 3 questions:

  1. Who are our customers?
  2. What do they value?
  3. How can we give them what they value better than our competitors?

Once you get this done, there is not much stopping you to do all of the marketing that you need. That includes positioning.

Positioning must pick one value of your customers, the most important one preferably, and describe your product as the best regarding this value.

For example, you’re selling safes named “Lemon Guard”. One could suggest that a specific segment of your customers value safety. Then figuring your desired positioning is simple as day — “Lemon Guard is the most secure safes. With its new iconic technology of 15 steel layers and patented retina scanner, Lemon Guard ensures that only you can pop it open”. Noticed that second part about innovative technologies? It’s one of the ways that we marketers use to make sure that people believe your positioning. Because just saying that your safes are the most secured is not enough. But saying that they are the most secure because of the all the technologies implemented is much more persuasive. Not to say that your safes must be truly secure of course.

That’s just the surface of the positioning but it should be enough for today’s purpose. So where were we on a mature product?

The importance of focus

The focus in marketing is created with marketing strategy. That works because all the marketing decisions should always be checked if they follow the strategy.

Say you’re planning a big sale. How well does it resonate with your strategy? If your customers are used to buy expensive premium goods than big discounts could harm your brand image. Apple doesn’t make a 60% discount on new iPhones on the Black Friday.

Having a focus allows everyone who needs to make marketing decisions — however big or small — to be sure that decision he or she is making is a right one.

But when you don’t have a marketing strategy then marketing becomes a mishmash of from-top-of-the-head ideas that don’t really stick together. Some sale here, some blog post there, some YouTube video with a completely different angle, and your customers just can’t feel consistency in what you’re saying. And, surprise, that affects sales.

How is this connected with the positioning of mature products? Because mature products without positioning most likely don’t have any clear marketing strategy behind them and thus they have this mishmash marketing thing.

lack of focus

The problem for mature products without positioning is that there is always something that needs attention — say you need to think about Facebook posts right now. Consumed with everyday chores one can easily be distracted from the important stuff.

The reason is that day-to-day works usually allow the product to get some revenue right now. It’s always more tempting to get $1k right now then to get $2k in 6 months. And day-to-day tasks like a new tempting discount campaign or improving downloads conversion are certainly very important. And their importance blurs the focus and distracts marketing manager and the whole team from big marketing tactics stuff. Those important tasks distract everyone from making positioning.

Making the first step

It always takes some courage to start implementing a new marketing strategy. A strategy is not something that starts to generate revenue right away, you need to truly invest in it to reap its results. But I believe that a proper strategy and a proper positioning is really something that needed for a mature product to really take that revenue sky high.
I believe that a lack of the positionig serves as a barrier to revenue growth. Even if you optimize your conversions, make A/B tests and do your best at pricing and discounting. If your product doesn’t have a positioning it won’t be selling as good as it could.

So making a first step is something that takes a lot of courage and someone just need to have that courage. I say it’s marketing manager who must be a driver of positioning development.

If you’re working on a product with a long history it certainly has a lot of marketing data. It was just the situation that I’ve found myself in when I got that new job. And all the people who worked on the product before made an astonishing work to make a great product and gain extensive knowledge of customers. And my job as a marketing manager was to accumulate all the insights and come up with a viable marketing strategy and a proper positioning.

So there is no silver bullet. You probably already know the answer to these questions because your product has a long lifespan and its just natural for every people working on the product to gain this type of knowledge. But it never hurts to do some customer interview. To make the positioning of a mature product start with a marketing strategy and then proceed with a positioning using all the insights that you and your team have.

  1. Answer three questions «Who are our customers?», «What do they value?», «How can we give them what they value better than our competitors?». That’s your marketing strategy.
  2. Choose the most important value of your customers that your product delivers better than competitors. That would be your positioning. Keep it simple and clean. «The most secure safe» — is a great positioning. It’s plain and simple. «The most secure Italian safe with beautiful design and premium anti-flame finish» — is a bad positioning.
  3. Empower your positioning with «because» satement: «our safes are the most secure because of the innovative retinal-scan technology».
  4. Make a positioning statement. There are a lot of frameworks on how it could be formulated. Here is an example that I find useful: «Lemon guard Is the most secure safe for people who love to keep their possessions at home, because it uses revolutionary retinal-scan technology. Unlike Orange Guard it cannot be bursted open with a gentle tap on the right spot». Marketing statement is used for internal consumption so every person working on the product could know it and use it in their work.
  5. Be sure to translate your positioning through all the channels that you contact your customers. If possible, you might empower it with «because» statement.
  6. Double check that everyone who works on the marketing is aware of the positioning statement.
  7. Make sure that positioning is translated everywhere. I mean really everywhere.
  8. Enjoy your revenue.
the importance of the positioning statement

I cannot stress this enough. A mature product is the one that seems to be OK without any positioning. But it’s exactly the type of product that needs a good positioning to grow rapidly. A marketing manager just need to get together and start making a positioning. Stop doing day-to-day stuff, focus and work on your strategy and big tactic moves. And your reward should be soon and plenty.


Thank you for finishing this article. I’m just starting this blog so it would be really great if you could give your feedback. How did you like this article? What articles do you want to read? Also, I’d like to know if you have an experience of positioning a mature product yourself.