Most individuals and companies owe their initial
achievements on the Internet to unique positions. However, this is blurred with time if the individual or company lacks the knowledge of this powerful force.
Obviously, most competitors on the Internet can always provide products and/or services of the same quality, efficiency and satisfaction as you. One thing they usually fail to accurately imitate is your strategy.
Strategic Positioning in the Internet Business
Strategic positioning involves engaging in different sets of activities from your rivals or performing similar sets of activities in a different way from your competitors.
It is what distinguishes you from all others. These differences in activities should be those that you can preserve. They may not be immediately obvious, butyou can gradually and creatively develop one.
Mashable would have been an ordinary blog, but it was strategically positioned from the very start to provide up-to-date news about social networks and digital trends on the Internet. The founder of Mashable, Pete Cashmore, realized that things were changing very fast on the Internet, and he could feed Internet business owners with the most important information when he started Mashable. As social media grew, his strategic position was modified. Mashable’s tagline was immediately changed from All That’s New On The Web to Social Media Guide. This was necessary to satisfy the need for a guide in optimizing the use of Social Media.
Operational Effectiveness is not a Strategy
It is necessary not to confuse operational effectiveness with strategic positioning.
Your business operations are always the same as those of your rivals – producing, selling and delivering. Operational effectiveness comes into play when you can perform these activities faster and better using fewer resources.
Operational effectiveness helps you generate higher returns from your efforts.
Unfortunately, competitors can oftentimes copy this or poach your staff – like what is presently happening to Giant companies on the Internet like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. One thing no one can take away from you is your strategic positioning, but you need to constantly improve your operational effectiveness so that you can make more returns than your rivals.
If you have no ulterior scheme and no forethought, but just rely on your individual bravery, flippantly taking opponents lightly and giving no consideration to the situation, you will surely be taken prisoner.
Du Mu, The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Amazon took over the book market by concentrating on both operational effectiveness and strategic positioning. Jeff Bezos’s ability to provide cheaper books through the Internet helped him make more money quicker than the traditional booksellers. The introduction of ‘Kindle’ attests to this fact. His strategic position is to provide all the needs of his customers cheaper, faster and easier. When his rivals in the book market came along, he quickly left them behind by focusing on the Amazon.com vision,
To be the world's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
You can develop a strategic position by:
- Assessing a few customers’ needs and satisfying almost all of their needs in a particular area (like Amazon.com), oftentimes the needs of the larger niche of a group of customers.
- Producing a small aspect (a very important one) of a larger business where you can produce faster at lower cost.
- Categorizing your sets of customers, and providing products and/or services to suit each of the categories. This is easier to achieve for bigger companies.
The individualist without strategy who takes opponents lightly will inevitably become the captive of others.
Master Sun, The Art of War by Sun Tzu
Thus, Strategy can be used in three ways, you can carter for:
- Many needs of a few customers.
- Fewer needs of many customers.
- Many needs of many customers.
For example, Facebook began by satisfying a few needs of many customers. Today, they are moving into number ‘3’ – satisfying broader needs of many Internet users by starting the traditional email service, search engine service and many more.
Also, Amazon.com began by satisfying ‘book needs’ of many customers before moving into almost all the ‘buying needs’ of many customers. Twitter, still in its development stage, satisfies a few needs of many customers while most bloggers satisfy a few needs of few customers.
Pick up the Pieces of Your Business – Fit all to Form a Whole
Now, you need to be willing to disengage in the business activities that water down your overall strategic positioning.
Instead, organize or reorganize all your business activities in such a way that they interact and reinforce each other. This is extremely important because each activity you engage in affects the others one way or another.
When several activities of an individual or company fit, rivals find it difficult to imitate them because it is more difficult for a competitor to imitate several interlocked activities than to copy just one aspect of your business. In addition, interlocked activities enhance your business efforts by creating pressures and natural incentives for the different aspects of your business.
Finally, you need to recall your initial positioning and use the knowledge to refocus your business in line with occurring trends on the Internet.