Positioning Statement: Planning Tool

Positioning Statement: Planning Tool

A position statement is a planning tool that provides a framework summarizing the requirements for all communications. It can be used for a brand or one of several of a brand's product lines. It identifies how you want your target market to perceive your brand. It it the blueprint for how you plan to influence consumer's perception by committing to the position you have the best chance of occupying.

There are a number of templates available for writing a positioning statement. Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, suggests this format:

For (target customers)
Who (have the following problem)
Our product is a (describe the product or solution)
That provides (cite the breakthrough capability)
Unlike (reference competition),
Our product/solution (describe the key point of competitive differentiation)

Conceptually complicated, well-executed only if simple

A positioning statement is a complex description of all the requirements a message must meet to be effective, and address a specific audience. In contrast, the messages themselves must be simple. Slogans are simple. Nike's "Just Do It" and Subway's "Eat Fresh" illustrate that simple is most effective.

How to make the positioning statement feel real

Positioning statements may not be easy for non-marketing people to consume. One of Marketing's critical roles is to checkpoint throughout the organization to ensure a newly-focused message is congruent with how all departments think about the company's strengths prior to building communications based on it.

The message must seem authentic and consistent to all. A great place to test this is in Customer Support, or whatever department handles after-sale customer interactions. If they, and those in Sales, all agree that the message connects emotionally to the right audience, then you've made progress.

Quickly producing different creative for different candidate positioning statements is a rare skill, however. It requires a "Creative" person (as in an ad firm's Creative Department) who can analytically take in the whole picture, as a product manager would, and transform those details to an emotionally appealing message.

I am privileged to know such an expert who has won a number of awards.