One of fiction's finest marketing minds, The Cheshire Cat,
once told Alice in Wonderland something all business owners
and marketers should remember:
"If you don't care where you are going, it doesn't make a
difference which path you take."
For businesses bent upon success, it does matter which path
you take. A positioning statement helps you chart your path
to success because it lets all your audiences - internal and
external - know where your organization stands in the battle
for your consumers' minds.
Positioning: What Is It?
You should not confuse a positioning statement with your
market position. As Harry Beckwith states in his book
Selling the Invisible, "A position is a cold-hearted,
no-nonsense statement of how you are perceived in the minds
of your prospects. A positioning statement, by contrast
expresses how you wish to be perceived. It is the core
message you want to deliver in every medium."
Your positioning statement will be found where three items
- your business acumen/aspirations
- your market
- what truly differentiates you
Of the three, it is your market which holds the key to your
positioning. That doesn't mean that your acumen and
aspirations are irrelevant. You must have a clear
understanding and shared agreement on these at the
management level in order to develop an effective
My approach to developing an effective positioning
statement and an actionable marketing plan begins with
gaining this understanding. Here's how we go about it, and
you can too:
- interviews with management and employees to learn job
responsibilities, current marketing practices, as well as to
surface questions for customer interviews
- a review of appropriate primary and secondary research
- a series of one-on-one customer interviews
Customer interviews allow us to probe for information such
- how customers perceive your "product" and other products in
the category. what the customer wants from the product
category he is not now receiving. what is the primary
customer benefit of your product
- how your customers currently position your brand. how
customers perceive your competitors
- what media habits, lifestyles do customers share. what
industries do they work in, what are their titles, what
associations do they belong to
- how do customers want to be communicated with
Once all the information is in, you may develop a
positioning statement that clearly says who you are, defines
your audiences, indicates what markets you are targeting,
and states what makes you different from your competitors.
Once this is done, everyone knows where they are going and
then it's easy to find the right path.
About the author: Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR, http://www.hoover-ink.com. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Duke Energy, Levolor, North Carolina Tourism, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX and Verbatim.