Positioning (and Messaging): Part 1 of 3

In this first of a three part series, I'm providng my insight into one of the fundamentals of Marketing: positioning. In my opinion, effective positioning makes and breaks firms of all sizes; the ability to position products and services in the market effectively is one of the most important skills needed by any Marketer.

Wikipedia defines positioning as:

"The process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its products, services, or for the organization. It is the 'relative competitive comparison' their product occupies in a given market as perceived by the target market."
The standard working definition of positioning (from Geoffrey A. Moore) is:

For [target end user]
Who wants/needs [compelling reason to buy]
The [product name] is a [product category]
That provides [key benefit].
Unlike [main competitor],
The [product name] [key differentiation]

And the takeaway I want to leave with you regarding positioning is: get it right, do it first, and dont cut corners, because nothing else really matters if you get your positioning wrong. Positioning is grounded in market research - how many firms still invest in research now that Google exists - which forces you to understand the problems of your target customers and provides you a brutal assessment of whether your products and services address the problems facing your customers. If you pass this test, the second step is messaging, which forces you (and your Teams) to crystallize the benefits of your products and services into short summary statements -- these form the core go-to-market messages for your entire organization (and your strategic go-to-market partners). Lastly, effective positioning includes a thorough assessment of your product vis-a-vis the competitive landscape, which highlights (or lowlights) the differentiating value of your product and service FROM your competitors. Believe me, if your product is any more complex than a toothpick, your potential customers WILL ask you how your product is different from ABC Company's product, so you better be ready.

It should be no surprise then, to even the entry-level Marketer, that your positioning statement MUST precede your brand building and awareness creation activities. And effective positioning certainly makes lead generation much eaiser! It would be colossally difficult to build a brand (or prove any value) if you can't articulate your value to the market or if you can't distinguish your value offer from others. Too many firms build a product and then search for a problem to solve. Too many others try to build a brand without using careful consideration of how the market will receive their product.

The best firms launch successful products over and over (such as Apple, BMW, and Corning) because they follow the simple approach in the first stage of Marketing by talking with the market, determing the core issues (and hence, the key opportunity), assessing the players, and then presenting the appropriate solution with clarity, brevity, and conviction. Wouldn't you like to be the next Apple?

Next - Building Awareness (Branding) Part 2 of 3.

Speak with you soon. DC