Positioning and Messaging

Describe your offering in a way that is consistent with what people already believe to be true

Because of the proliferation of new technologies, users are constantly bombarded with new products making it difficult for them to understand and then select from an overwhelming number of choices. Meanwhile, many small companies fighting for recognition in a sea of competitive alternatives can’t understand why their innovative products aren’t selling well.

The solution to both problems is positioning and messaging: creating a unique depiction of a company and its products (within a chosen market segment) and then building support throughout the market infrastructure or ecosystem. When combined with effective messaging, positioning helps high-tech companies deal with such problems as:

  • short product lifecycles
  • rapid response from competitors
  • the inability to differentiate
  • loss of market leadership

Communicate your customer's truth

mental positioning

Positioning is the process of describing and promoting value in a way that is consistent with what people already believe to be true.

Customers evaluate market alternatives based on their own mental map of the market. And each individual’s map is different based on his/her own view of reality and his/her own beliefs, prejudices, and point of view.

This means your range of marketing claims and messages is limited by what people already believe. And perceptions are very slow to change.

Positioning Fundamentals

  • Positioning is the single greatest influence on a customer’s buying decision
  • Each customer evaluates products in the market according to their mental map of the market
  • Positioning exists in customers’ minds, not in positioning statements
  • People do not easily or willingly change their minds about a product’s positioning
  • Positioning must first demonstrate a product’s relevance, using supportable, credible, and factual terms
  • Making the product easier to buy through effective positioning makes the product easier to sell.

Customers “position” a product and company in relative terms of importance and value in their minds based on what the company does, not what it says.

To position a product effectively, you must know how well customers understand your product offering and how they currently perceive its value.

Done correctly it will establish credibility and make your product more valuable than alternative offerings.

Our Winning Formula

The key to successful positioning, differentiation and competitive advantage is describing your product in terms of “the current market environment.” (Ted Levitt describes this in an article called “Marketing Success Through the Differentiation of Anything”)

Product positioning

Right now, the current market environment is dominated by three things:
– Political polarization
– Remote work and “the great resignation”
– Climate change and global warming

The key to developing the best possible positioning platform is: for you to describe your products and company in terms of the current market environment.

This means that the target market/customer for your product is NOT a description of company type or industry, but rather a description of the common need created by the market environment.

For example, a great positioning platform for the pandemic-era trend called “work at home” might be: The primary target for this product is large organizations with a global, virtual or distributed workforce, that need to maintain and optimize internal relationships in order to collaborate effectively.

Formulas that fail

More money is wasted on advertising and storytelling than any other promotional activity. A company cannot establish credibility or create a position in the marketplace with an ad or a story. And both methods are a poor choice if your target audience is skeptical or if the message you are trying to communicate is complex. Your only option is to reinforce positive differentials that already exist.

With products that are more costly, complicated or high-risk, the customer has more at stake. So all of the typical methods used in low-risk consumer marketing — branding, image, storytelling, celebrity endorsements, symbols to reinforce associations, etc. — are totally ineffective. The only way to market a new offering is with methods that reduce risk in the mind of the customer.

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A guide for effective positioning and competitive differentiation