Overview and Objective
There are two different approaches when it comes to positioning.
One is making the company/product to sound like "the
next big thing". This type of positioning will be
broad and complex. The other approach is a positioning
that is narrow and clear. If you are a small company,
the narrow and clear positioning is recommended for you.
If you are a venture-funded or very large organization,
the broad and complex positioning may be required to get
the attention of the right people. This document deals
with the narrow and clear positioning.
Who Should be Involved
If you are discussing company positioning, it should
involve all senior management. If it is product positioning,
it should involve representatives from Sales, Field Engineering,
and both product marketing and marketing communications.
A meeting or conference call with all parties involved
is critical. Ideally, everyone should be in one room with
a white board or large tablet to keep track of ideas and
thoughts. It is also important that everyone have a say
and that the highest-ranking person does not dominate
Before Getting Started
Everyone should attend the meeting prepared to discuss
your customers. If you don't have enough data on the customers,
who they are and why they bought, then discussions with
the customer must take place first. If you don't yet have
customers for the product then you need to come prepared
with market research and market validation interviews
with potential customers.
If there is a current positioning for the company and/or
the product, you ideally want to forget your existing
positioning during this exercise. However, that positioning
was probably developed through trial and error, so the
background for the positioning should be used, but it
is important for people to think beyond the current positioning.
The objective of the meeting is to reach agreement on
the following definitions.
- The primary customer. It is a good idea to
start broad and then narrow it down. Define both the
primary user and the person who has the budget (the
one who pays for your product or service).
- Secondary customers.
- The problem. What is the real problem of the
primary customer listed above, that your product can
- The secondary problem or other symptoms of the
problem. A significant problem will have an impact
in multiple areas. List all the areas affected by the
problem and how they are affected.
- Emotions. List the emotions of the customer
as they think about the problem. What is the primary
- Market characteristics. Break down the characteristics
of your primary customer. What do they buy? How do they
buy it? What do they worry about when they think of
- Channels. Describe the other companies that
the customer works with in solving similar problems.
Decide if these companies are good partners for you.
What is their primary business? How are their sales
people compensated? What is their biggest problem at
this moment? What can your product offer them?
- Elevator pitch. Describe the customer, their
problem, and how you solve it differently then anything
else on the market. Provide just enough information
for the listener to want to know more. Target the message
to your primary customer and bring their emotions into
- Competitors. List your competitors and their
strengths and weaknesses in comparison to your offering.
Start the meeting by sharing the most current discussions
with customers and potential customers. Anyone who has
had these conversations, whether they are formal market
research, or casual conversations, should share that information
with the rest of the group so that everyone has an equal
understanding of the target market.
Walk through the nine objectives above, in the order
they are listed. Start broad and narrow the objective
down by the process of elimination.
What Do You Do With the Results?
The elevator pitch should be distributed to the entire
company and everyone should use it when discussing the
offering. If this is a company positioning, the message
should be incorporated into the home page of the website,
datasheets, and the corporate background collateral. Strengths
over the competitors should be emphasized in the product
literature and on the website.
After several months of using the new positioning, review
it with management and customer. Find out what works and
what doesn't work. Decide if it needs to be updated with
new information or direction.
By Infrasystems - Barbara Tallent