Every entrepreneur goes through this — their product or service seems to have many benefits. Yet, their marketing machinery cannot afford to be vague about why exactly the customer should come to them.
For example, an e-commerce player who sells furniture, and is wondering what she can say to a customer so that there’s a digital queue to her website. Or another e-commerce portal which sells garments but the team behind it is fully aware that every day a new competitor is trying to beat them on the price and is unsure about what to pitch to their customers.
It is not easy to catch the customer’s attention even if you’re a lion. Unless you’re a blue lion, in which case you will surely stand out. But even the blue lion has to have some qualities to sustain the interest gained.
Positioning is a part of your business strategy. It is not a part of your advertising or public relations mandate. It is often confused with company taglines or slogans. Positioning statements are for internal use.
An ideal positioning statement would read as follows
For (TG) who needs (requirement) the (product/service) provides (key benefit)
Therefore, it implies that
Unlike (competitive offering) this (product service) provides (key differentiator)
Explaining the above with the example of Amazon:
For World Wide Web users (TG) who enjoy books (need), Amazon.com (product or service) is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books (key benefit).
This implies that
Unlike traditional book retailers, (competition) Amazon.com (product/service) provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection (key differentiator).
How to actually do this? Case Study
A technology company in the healthcare management space spoke about a patient management system so they could track your customer after his first visit to the hospital and help him monitor his health thereafter in a proactive, non-interfering manner. They could also schedule his next appointment, and remind him when to take his medicines. They could also maintain data of his crucial health indicators.
Their client pitch was 40 slides and by the time they were finished presenting to the client, the client was still unsure what the hell they were selling to him. It took them some time to sit down and put out their positioning statement. Since this was for their internal reference, it could be nice and long.
Positioning statement: “For healthcare providers, a personalised software program that records and transfers treatment and medication details to the patients’ mobile phone and generates more revenue opportunities per patient.”
Slogan: They started pitching to hospitals as “generating more RoI per patient.”
This provided a credible, unique, easily understood picture of their service that differentiated it from competitors and left room for growth.
Needless to say, it made the proposition very clear to the hospital managements, who jumped at the service.
Let us write out a sample positioning statement for better understanding.
Facebook: For users of the world wide web (TG), who value being connected (need) Facebook (product or service) is a social utility that helps people connect with those who work, study and live around them, keep up with friends, share photos, links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet (key benefit).
This positioning is borne out by user experience and also gets refined by user experience which is why the FB positioning statement will make perfect sense in hindsight. From being an elite service for people with select B-school email id’s, Facebook expanded its relevance universally.
There are some exceptions to ‘by the book’ positioning. The visionaries who anticipate consumer needs ahead of time better than customers themselves, and create products that will service those future needs. For example, things Steve Jobs’ did.