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What is a Positioning Statement?

You've probably heard the term 'positioning statement', but you may not be sure of the exact definition. When you ask the question, "what is a positioning statement?", do you have an answer? If not, read on.

Typically we see a vision, values, mission statements, strategy, and value proposition. The written positioning statement is rare but extremely powerful. If your firm does happen to have a formal positioning statement, is each and every employee able to articulate that statement?

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Who is responsible for developing the positioning statement and who is responsible for ensuring that every person in the firm is able to articulate it? The answer is you, especially if you are in a senior director, VP or C-suite position. If your firm has one, then I applaud you and place you at the top of the heap of manufacturing firms and marketers.

 Here's how you can craft your own positioning statement.

The Positioning Statement definition is comprised of 4 parts; the target, the category, the differentiator, and the payoff.  We'll talk about these in summary below, but first, there is some work to be done. Before sitting down to write your PS, decisions must be made. You must choose your target market. "All Industries" or "All People", by the way, are not target markets. You must establish your differentiator. You must establish your target market's buying criteria and determine how your core competence fits or does not fit the criteria. You should be intimate with your target audience.

The 4 parts of the Positioning Statement:

  1. Target Market.  You must know where and what the target is before aiming and firing (your marketing activity).  The target market should be defined based on criteria that are available such as demographics, geography, psychographics, pains, needs, etc.  Again, "all" or "everyone" is not acceptable criteria.
  2. Category.  Prospective customers (all of us) need a frame of reference when we evaluate a proposed product or service. We want to know the context in which we evaluate. Your customers want the same thing. This can be achieved by stating a common category or market where you play. Examples of a category are metal fabrication, machine parts, automotive, lawn service, PCs, digital television, tablets, etc. If your prospective customers can't place your offer in a context, they will not spend any time evaluating the offer.
  3. Differentiation.  One single point of differentiation is best. Multiple benefits or features should not be provided as the differentiators. The unique features or benefits will support the main differentiator.  Stating that your firm is "the global leader" is a weak differentiator and should be avoided. Rather, state the reason why you are the global leader. Having the biggest market share or the biggest turnover are also weak differentiators. The differentiator must be stated from the audience perspective.
  4. The Payoff.  This ties the differentiation with the needs or goals of the target market. You need to tell the target audience how your differentiator will help them achieve what they want to achieve. What's that you say, you don't know what your target market wants to achieve? I'll repeat it again here. In order to have a meaningful PS, you must understand your target market intimately. This understanding should be based on real market research, not hearsay.

Your Positioning Statement definition might be constructed something like this:

"To [target market], [brand] is a [category] that [differentiator] because [target market] needs [the payoff]."

Here's an example of our webinar and email marketing service positioning statement:

MMG creates [category] lead generating webinars and email marketing programs [category] built on [differentiator] high engagement content for [target] B2B manufacturing companies [target] by focusing on solving the pain and problems of the people in the target audience [differentiator] because [payoff] those manufacturing companies able to engage in this way will achieve TOMA, credibility, and reciprocity leading to larger market share in their respective competitive spaces.[payoff]

One more thing to consider, this is a high-level endeavor and will drive your value proposition, marketing mix, and many other strategic and tactical decisions. The highest level executives must buy-in and support the initiative to develop a positioning statement.

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