How to Create a Product Positioning Map in Excel

By Darrin Koltow

Product positioning maps help you achieve the same goal as road maps: to reach a desired location. In business terms, a product positioning map helps to define your firm's niche relative to your competitors. Using Excel to create these maps saves you time and eliminates the need to purchase expensive graphics software or hire a designer. Excel's SmartArt makes this possible. SmartArt is a gallery of shapes commonly used in business communications.

Create a new workbook and then click the "SmartArt" button on the Insert tab to display the SmartArt gallery. Click the "Relationship" category and select the "Diverging Radial" shape, which looks like a plus symbol comprised of circles and arrows. Click "OK" to insert this graphic on the current worksheet.

Drag the SmartArt's bounding box so that the box forms a square roughly the height of the worksheet. Click one of the circles inside the bounding box to select the circle, and then drag any of its handles toward the circle's center to shrink it. Drag the circle so that it almost touches the nearest edge of the bounding box. Size and position the SmartArt's remaining circles the same way. The circles now appear similar to the four points on a compass.

Click and then right-click the center circle. Click "Format" and select the Fill category's "No fill" option. Click "OK" to hide the circle. Click and drag the SmartArt arrows so that they reach from one circle to the circle on the opposite side of the SmartArt. For example, click and drag the vertical arrows so that there appears to be a single, two-headed arrow connecting the top and bottom circles. Extend the horizontal arrows the same way to connect the left and right circles.

Click the top or bottom circle, and then type the name of a product attribute that you want the circle to represent. For example, type "Pricey" or "Expensive" in the top circle. Type the attribute's antonym in the opposite circle, such as "Inexpensive." Type the names of a different pair of attributes in the SmartArt's left and right circles. For example, type "One-time use" in the left circle and "Durable" in the right circle.

Click the "Picture" button on the Insert tab and select the logo of a competitor from the images on your PC. Click and drag to size and move the logo so that it reflects the competitor's positioning relative to the product attributes indicated by the SmartArt circles. For example, if the competitor's product is expensive and durable, and your map's top and right labels are "Expensive" and "Durable," drag the logo to the map's upper right corner. Arrange the logos of your other top competitors in the same way.

Uncheck the "Gridlines" check box from the View menu to see your completed product positioning map without Excel's default gridlines.


Information in this article applies to Excel 2010. It may vary slightly or significantly with other versions or products.