Do you have a Positioning Statement?

More importantly… Is it any good?

Recently we discussed three ways to differentiate your business—with your credibility, your uniqueness, or your value to your customer.

But what does that look like in practice? How can you use that theoretical idea—“We’re different because of X”—in the day-to-day of your business?

That’s where the Positioning Statement comes to play.

What a Positioning Statement is—and what it isn’t

A Positioning Statement—also called a purpose statement—isn’t a tagline, or an elevator pitch, or a mission statement.

It’s meant for you and you alone. Your customers should never see it or hear it.

But in some ways, it’s more important than anything else you do, because it informs everything else you show to customers.

Every decision you make about your brand—the name and nature of your services, your prices, your marketing materials, and even things like the way you deliver customer service—should align with and support your positioning statement.

t’s a big deal, but don’t worry. You’re only a few ideas away from writing your own Positioning Statement.

Benefits of a Positioning Statement

The best positioning statements are those that resonate over time — they don’t have to be changed often, and they don’t get thrown out as soon as new management arrives.

Positioning statements are important because they provide a unifying purpose for the business across all employees. This is beneficial because:

  • When internal staff are aligned, they can better and more seamlessly serve customers
  • Marketing, sales, and customer support staff can work with the same messaging
  • Managers, directors, and executives have a “playbook” by which to train employees and promote sustainable organizational culture
  • Commercial objectives can be easily communicated in a way that’s understandable to all staff — allowing everyone to work toward a common goal.

How to write a Positioning Statement

Here’s a fill-in-the-blanks positioning statement example you can use to get started:

[Your company] … [provides/delivers/helps/offers/works with etc.] … [your ideal client] … to [outcome of your services] … by [things you do to achieve that outcome]..

Here’s how that looks in practice:

Google helps internet users find what they’re searching for in just a click by organizing the world’s information and making it instantly accessible.

If you’d prefer, here’s another formula:

For [ideal buyer][your company] is the [category in which you’re unique] … which provides [main benefit you offer]. Unlike [your competition], which provides [their offering][your company] provides [your differentiators or proof points].

And here’s that formula in real life, using Amazon this time:

For online shoppers, Amazon is the world’s biggest store, providing millions of products at the click of a mouse. Unlike Walmart, which focuses on the lowest price at the expense of just about everything else, Amazon offers nearly unlimited choice, great prices, convenient shipping, and individualized service.

Easy enough, right?

The Perfect Positioning Statement

Doug Stayman, on the Cornell University blog, gives these tips on writing a good positioning statement:

  1. It should be simple and memorable.
  2. It should instantly differentiate you from your competitors.
  3. It should be believable, and your brand should be able to deliver on its promise.
  4. You need to be able to “own” your position in a way that no-one else can.
  5. You should be able to use it to evaluate whether the decisions you make—about a strategy, or a product name, or a logo, for example—are in line with your brand.
  6. It should leave room for growth

With those maxims in mind, here are some things to ask as you’re writing your new positioning statement:

  • Does this feel like “us”?
  • Is what we’re saying true?
  • Can we prove it—do we have things like testimonials, case studies or LinkedIn recommendations to back up our claims? If not, can we get some?
  • Does the current expression of our brand across our website and marketing materials reflect this positioning? If not—or not yet—can we make the necessary changes?
  • As our business gets bigger, could this Positioning Statement grow with us?

Ask those questions, and work it until it feels good—until you’ve settled on the one that’s most… “you.”

When you’re working, try to get to know your customers and zero in on the benefits of what you offer, not the features. Remember to talk not only about what you do, but about how your buyers are changed by what you do. For example, you don’t sell courses to women—you transform work-at-home moms.

What not to do with your Positioning Statement

Bad positioning statements typically start with a misunderstanding of why a business exists and what it is trying to achieve. Outside of “making money,” what does your business truly stand for, and why is it different from any other competitor?

When writing your positioning statement, don’t:

  • Copy/paste from another company.
  • Rely solely on platitudes — be specific.
  • Create a statement that is way too lofty or difficult to achieve.
  • Write it then walk away — it should become an internal mantra around which staff are trained.

Takeaway

The best marketing in the world won’t help you if your customers still think you’re a commodity. You need to be different in the eyes of your clients. A Positioning Statement, created with thought and insight, is a great first step toward achieving that differentiation.

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