Positioning basically means where your organization stands against all the other choices your customers have. When someone needs to hire a service or buy a product, they are exposed to any number of options. If you have a good position, you will be considered in the running and have a good chance of being chosen as the winning provider. If you have a poor position, you are overlooked.
What does this have to do with messaging?
Every organization should have a positioning statement to showcase who you are and who you are not. The positioning statement leads people to either put you on their short list of who they wish to deal with or exclude you.
Below is an example of a positioning statement we helped develop a number of years ago for a venture organization seeking to attract more people to their events (their main product).
CVG: By entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.
Simple, direct and to the point. Why is this powerful? First of all, you know who you’ll meet at their events. Entrepreneurs. If you are one, you will meet like-minded people who will understand you.
It also tells you who they are not. They are not the Chamber of Commerce. They are not a technology council (popular back then). They are not a trade association.
When proactively positioning yourself, you’ll first want to identify:
- the piece of the world you want to own (or at least where you can effectively compete)
- how you stack up presently against all the other options people have
- what you’re willing to do to get to where you want to be
It’s key to be honest here. You can’t reach your goals if you aren’t willing to take a hard look at where you stand and why you hold that position.
The next step is to identify how you are different, why someone should be interested in you, and, again, what is accurate about your products and services. You need to know this because a powerful positioning statement:
- Differentiates you (tells your audience who you are compared to everyone else)
- Is compelling to your audience (tells them something that is interesting to them)
- Is truthful (tells them what they will honestly get when doing business with you)
The positioning statement is just one message in your communications arsenal. But it’s powerful, and every organization should start here before developing an elevator pitch, soundbites, advertising copy…even your tag line (what many people want to start with).
After all, if you don’t know how you want to stand out in a crowd, all other messages and stories will be like shouting into the wind.