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How to Write a Strong Positioning Statement

I got to speak at Strategy Night for PechaKucha in Santa Fe! PechaKucha is a Japanese style of presentation aimed at brevity. The rules are to present using 20 slides, which play for 20 seconds each.

This was a great opportunity to share what I’ve been working through with clients lately: the brand positioning statement. It’s such a useful tool for marketing strategy. The positioning statement lays out how you’re going to “position” your brand to make it appealing.

Ava Shije presenting on brand positioning statements
Ava Shije presenting on positioning statements at PechaKucha Strategy Night in Santa Fe

When you write your positioning statements, keep in mind that this is NOT a mission statement. A mission statement lays out your values and “why” you’re in business. A positioning statement acts as a guide for your marketing plan.

The words that you use to describe your business could be very different depending on who you’re talking to (your target market). That’s why you can have several positioning statements if you have different types of customers. Like how Pedialyte makes separate ads for parents and athletes.

How to Write a Positioning Statement for Your Business

Video Transcript:

My favorite part of marketing has always been branding. A foundational step for solidifying your branding is to craft a statement that will describe how you’re going to position your brand. A positioning statement is a specific message, and it’s aimed at a specific audience, and it’s something that’s going to guide your branding, and your company can use it internally when you’re crafting those outward facing marketing messages.

When you’re making this position in statement, you have four major decisions.

  • target audience
  • industry category
  • main benefit you’re providing
  • how you’re going to differentiate yourself from all the other competitors

I’m going to walk you through an example of a positioning statement and notice how those four elements are going to come into play. In this example, we’re going to pretend that we’re marketing a new art gallery.

For millennial art collectors who love to travel, Hidden Light Photo Gallery is the contemporary photography gallery that will bring the beauty of the world to you because it displays captivating images from the furthest reaches of the Earth.

So for your target audience, it is the business within this industry category that provides this main benefit, and it sets itself apart from all the other art galleries.

So let’s go through each of those, starting with target audience. It’s also called buyer persona, and it means listing every characteristic you know about your ideal customer. And you can go back through your transactional data and see who your most profitable customers were.

If your customers are business customers, then you’re thinking about things like firm size and company culture. What a company’s decision making processes is like–you’re taking all these traits. For consumers–if you’re selling to in consumers than you’re thinking about other things like demographic, what the individuals interests are and maybe what their purchase occasion is.

So you take all these traits and you put your customers into groups and you think about: what’s the size of this customer group? What’s their growth potential? What’s their profitability?

You choose your ideal customer group based on these traits, and you consider what this group really needs. And how is your business going to meet this group’s need better than anyone else? What resources do you have that are perfect for this customer group?

Next you have to communicate your value to that group. You start with your industry category, and you want to use the most familiar terms when you’re choosing your industry category. Think about the words people use when they’re thinking about your industry.

It’s very rare that a company would ever need to create a completely new industry category. Even if you’re entering a new or nascent market, look at the trends and jump on board with whatever’s the most dominant category label right then.

And it would have been really difficult in the days when the horseless carriage was invented to know what the most dominant terms were to be able to do that research. But now we have Google trends that we can look at and we can see what words people are using to search around your industry.

Now choose your main benefit. Your company has a lot of benefits that it’s offering your customers, but first you choose the main one that gives the most value to your target audience, and it might not be obvious.

A lot of times you’re filling an emotional need, so you dig in and you decide what’s really the most important that I’m offering. You’ll have secondary benefits as well. In our example gallery, a secondary benefit of the art gallery might be nostalgia.

Finally, think about how you’re differentiating from your competitors. Really look at your resources versus your competitors’ resources. And how can you convince your target customer that you can provide them the most value beyond what your competitors can provide?

Back to our example. Our target audience is based on demographic and interest. The category is well defined. The main benefit is aesthetic, and you’re focusing on something different than all the other art galleries.

So your positioning statement is really going to unify your marketing efforts, and you can have several positioning statements, especially if you’re targeting lots of different groups of people or you’re providing several products or services. I encourage you to sit down and go through this and think about what your own positioning statement is. And how is that going to impact the rest of your marketing?

And feel free to reach out to me. I love to talk about marketing.

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