I’ve written elsewhere that for life science companies, positioning is the DNA of marketing. Just as DNA guides protein expression and thereby controls much (if not all) cell activity, so positioning guides marketing activities. Just as DNA is tucked inside the nucleus, and therefore ‘invisible’ to the rest of the cell, the definition of a company’s positioning is internal and private.

If your company’s positioning is your marketing DNA, then optimizing or adjusting your positioning is equivalent to genetic engineering.

Why would you want to do this? For the same reason we do genetic engineering on organisms: to optimize that organism’s response to particular conditions. Humans have engineered individual corn plants to allow them to thrive even when closely surrounded by many other plants, all in competition with each other for resources (nutrients, water, sunlight, etc.) and assailed by herbicides and insecticides. So too, we can modify our firm’s positioning to encourage the firm to thrive under harsh competitive conditions.

Genetic engineering is not trivial. It takes skill to express the desired traits. But get your positioning right, and your firm will thrive. Get it wrong, and pretty quickly you’ll be wading in the shallow end of the gene pool.