How great business positioning is hard and boring (but totally worth it)

A great business positioning encompasses what you do, who you do that for and how you are different.

If you want your customers to think of you in their moment of need, they need to know what your business does. It sounds skull crushingly simple, but it is actually something so many companies fail to really land.

You might have a complicated technology product, or a new type of business model unfamiliar in the category, or you might offer a whole range of products and services that are hard to lump together. Or more often than not, you thought about your positioning when you were just starting out but haven’t thought about it since. If one of these scenarios is starting to sound familiar, you might want to read on.

Explaining what you do is only part of your positioning. It needs to encapsulate your unique strength over other options. Some businesses expend very little internal energy worrying about competitors, seeing their technical product or process as very different. However, the reality is that all the people not currently buying from you are all doing something else. Whatever these other things are, this is your competition.

So where do you start? Whatever you do, don’t start in a meeting room with a blank sheet of paper. It’s true that no one knows more about what you do than you and your team, however you’re not the ones who buy your product. Your business positioning is the space you take up in the mind of the customer, not words you write on a white board. Instead, speak to a few loyal customers and ask them how they describe what your business does for them. Ask them why they chose you over the competition. Ask them what they see as your biggest’s strength. It’s really important to capture the language your customers use, rather than your interpretation of it. If you’re not sure if these individuals represent your wider audience, then test it through further qual and quant research.

Take some time to review both your direct and indirect competitor websites. See what language they use and key messages they emphasise. Then compare this to your site. Where is there similarity, what are the points of difference.

Once you have a good understanding of how both how your customers see you and how your competitors are positioning themselves, you’re ready to move onto the hard part, crafting your positioning statement.

Great business positioning is hard.

Great business positioning is single minded and simple.  

Single mindedness is something that feels incredibly hard to do in any business. We live in a complex, fast evolving world where the pressures of driving growth mean we often try to be everything to all people. We all worry, and I include myself here, that if we say we’re all about A we’re missing out on selling to B people who want X, Y and Z. This is where positioning gets hard because it relies on being focus. When you can be single minded about what you do and who you do that for, it’s much easier to articulate your unique point of difference.

Your business positioning needs to be grounded in the reality of who your current customers and competitors are and how you make money right now. It’s OK to embrace the thing you’re really good at and place this at the heart of your positioning. I would argue it’s better to be known for one thing, which people knock on your door for, than be unknown for 20 things. Once customers are through the door, it’ll be much easier to up-sell additional connected products and services.

Simplicity is key because your positioning needs to be a concept than can be easily understood and remembered by both your existing and potential customers. Simplicity is helps your current customers and employees talk about you to other potential customers and employees. A good positioning statement should fit easily on a page, I’ve included an example below of a template format I use.

Great business positioning is boring.

You have to reinforce it over and over and over again.

While your positioning statement should be internal, you need to be able to translate this in your external marketing and comms. Your branding…. tagline...website copy...pitch creds....investor decks... social content and targeting... job descriptions... every single touchpoint needs to connect back to your single minded positioning.

If you do the hard work getting to a single minded, clear positioning statement, don’t let this die on the page. Find ways to make it live in the organisation. From CEO to intern, ensure everyone understands the positioning and what this means for their role. Repeat the process of speaking to customers regularly to see how your positioning is landing.

It can take years to build a great positioning with your target audience. This can get boring. If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s much more fun to make new things than it is to maintain an approach over a number of years. But those companies who can being single minded and consistent have the highest chance of their customers understanding what they do and thinking of that company first in their time of need.

If you’d like to discuss your business positioning get in touch