Why Positioning Must Come First

How Burton Group’s Positioning Drove Growth and Set It Up for Future Success

When I joined Burton Group, my first assignment was to revitalize the brand. The first and foremost question was, “What makes Burton Group truly different?” The answer soon became clear. Burton Group delivered in-depth and technical insights that technologists could actually use.

At first glance, this doesn’t seem too earth shattering, but it was absolutely critical to our customers. It’s why they subscribed to our premium research and advisory services, why they relied on our analysts, why they used our consultants, why they came to our intensive annual events. We were markedly different from other IT research players like Gartner and Forrester. Our reports were very technical, very detailed, and very long. The heft had value. Technologists loved us because we got them and their complex challenges, and we addressed these challenges head-on with in-depth insights.

And so we sharpened our stance and re-launched the brand. What we did with the brand positioning was just as important as what we did not. We did not go head-to-head with providers of C-level research, like Gartner. Rather, we positioned our research as complementary, and thus necessary in order to get the in-depth and technical insights needed to make risky technology investments. “We already have Gartner” was not a barrier, but an opening. It wasn’t that Burton Group was needed instead of Gartner; Burton Group was needed in addition to Gartner. We were vital for our in-depth and technical insights.

Meta was one our top competitors, they swam in our smaller but deeper pond. Believe me, our analysts worked diligently to outperform Meta.

Burton Group prospered the next two years, growing double digits thanks to smart marketing and an outstanding sales team that closed deal after deal with new clients, cross-sold services to current clients, and achieved fabulous subscription renewal rates. The team approach to over-delivering with in-depth excellence started at the top with CEO Jamie Lewis.

And then the market changed. Gartner announced the purchase of Meta, a great day for us! Where were these Meta clients to go for opinions outside of Gartner? They had a choice and it was our chance to step in. So, we made it clear with an aggressive marketing and sales campaign that Burton Group was the answer. They now needed us for their complementary opinion. And it worked, resulting in market share gains and a blowout sales year. Positioning honed two years prior set the brand up for future success.

There’s nothing more important than carving out a distinctive position for your brand. One based on company strengths, competitive advantage, and customer needs. It’ll get you where you need to be today, and prepare you for tomorrow’s market opportunities.