One of the things I find most gratifying as a business and marketing professional is witnessing a client’s “aha” moment. That moment when their perspective shifts just enough that their purpose, their vision, their audience and what it is that makes their business unique all comes in to focus.
It’s empowering. It can be transformative. And it is often the catalyst for all the other pieces of their business to begin falling into place.
And it all starts with the Positioning Statement.
In simplest terms, a Positioning Statement is a sentence or two that describes how an organization wants to be perceived by its target audiences. It’s an internal tool (part of the branding process) that answers the who, what, where and why of your business.
The formula for the statement is pretty basic:
For [insert Target Market], the [insert Brand] is the [insert Point of Differentiation] among all [insert Frame of Reference] because [insert Reason to Believe].
But it’s the process of getting to that statement. And then what you do with it that brings about those “aha” moments.
Don’t let the simplicity and brevity of that statement fool you. The Positioning Statement is powerful in that it brings direction and focus to your business. Get it right and your service offerings, marketing message and business goals will start falling into place.
Get it wrong, and you set yourself up for endless shifts, wrong turns and questioning of where your business is headed.
The Positioning Statement: What it is and why it’s important:
1) Establishes your purpose
“If it’s not obvious what you do to help others, why are they going to spend their money with you?” – Chris Brogan
Do you know how you help others? And equally important, do you know why? The Positioning Statement is powerful because it causes us to stop and really ask the question, why am I doing what I do? Why did I start this business? Why do I want to help this group of people? Why is it important to me?
If you can articulate your “why”, you’ll be able to more clearly articulate what it is you do to help your audience.
2) Differentiates an organization and describes how it wants to be perceived by its target audiences
What problem are you solving for your clients? Put yourself in the mind of your customer. From their perspective what problem are you solving for them? What benefit (or experience) are you providing them?
Note that this is not a claim about a specific product or service.
The Positioning Statement is about the core of your business and the emotional benefit you provide to your clients. And it will require “demoting” certain messages so that one clear and consistent message rises above the rest. The challenge is choosing a message that resonates with the broadest audience.
Several years ago, I worked with a non-profit organization in the education sector. They were struggling with articulating to donors how their organization served a vital need in the community and why they deserved funding.
After meeting with several key personnel, the issue became crystal clear. When asked to describe the organization, each staff member would focus on themselves and their particular program – talking about what they, personally, did every day. Not about benefits. Not about the community. Not about the problem the organization solved.
So in essence, what one person was describing sounded like a completely different organization from what someone else described. It’s no wonder funders were confused and reluctant to donate money.
What they needed was a unifying Positioning Statement that spoke to who the organization was as a whole. Not what each person did.
3) Serves as an anchor for your brand
“Simply put, a brand is a promise…” – Walter Landor
Are you keeping your promise to your customers? Or do you keep getting distracted with products and services that sound great, but aren’t what they need or want?
Some clients come to me lost in a web of services that they’ve accumulated over the years. It’s not always obvious. They just know that some service offerings always feel forced. Are tiresome to describe to prospects. Or they just don’t like doing the work involved with it.
Having a Positioning Statement in place will help you deliver the experience your customers expect. Whether it’s interacting with office staff or offering the right mix of services to meet their needs.
A good Positioning Statement serves as the anchor for the brand. It provides focus for the organization’s “reason for being” and is the foundation for all communications and business decisions.
Every decision you make about target audiences, products, services and marketing efforts needs to align with and support your Positioning Statement.
3 Key Elements to Getting Positioning Right:
- Can you deliver on your promise? If you don’t have the resources or company culture to support your promise, you will be setting yourself up for failure from the get-go. Make sure you can align your promise with the customer’s actual experience with your business.
- Are you committed to it? The Positioning Statement is designed to be an ongoing effort that requires buy-in from your entire organization to ensure it can be implemented at all levels of your business.
- Is there room for growth? Positioning Statements don’t include claims for products or services for a reason. Businesses evolve. Products come and go. Services change. But the core values of your business… the benefits you provide your customers… those all stay the same. If those change, then it’s time to revise your positioning!
So if you are ready for your own “aha” moment and to see the pieces of your business start falling into place, start with the Positioning Statement.
Jacqui Genow is the founder and principal of J. Genow Marketing. She works with clients in building Marketing Roadmaps, fine-tuning their brand message and coaching them in how to improve their marketing. As a business Marketing Strategist, her focus goes beyond marketing to understanding the connection between marketing decisions made today and how they can positively impact a client’s business in the future. Contact Jacqui to find out how improving your marketing can improve your business.