A positioning statement provides direction or focuses on your business or organization. It is a no-nonsense statement of how your company is perceived in the minds of your target market. Put simply, a positioning statement explains how your product, service, or brand fills a customer's needs better than your competitors. With a little effort, you can quickly create an effective positioning statement that will have your customers eagerly seeking your services or products.
Identify Your Brand
Before you begin creating a positioning statement, you need to first identify your brand. Your brand is who you are and involves far more than just your name, slogan, sign, symbol, or design. Your brand identifies the elements that differentiate your goods, services, or both from the competition.
But it's more than that.
Your brand is the perception that consumers have when they hear or think of your company name, service, or product. It's the mental picture of who you, as a company, represent to consumers. Your brand is certainly influenced by the elements, words, and creativity that surround everything that you produce and display for consumers—and that creativity begins with an effective positioning statement.
Seek Constructive Input
First, gather your team. If you're a sole proprietor, you may need to round up business associates (perhaps from a trade group or service organization you belong to), friends, or even customers via an online discussion group.
Before you meet with your team or group, do some prep work by briefly jotting down the answers to the following questions:
- What is your business or group?
- What business are you in?
- Who does your company or organization serve? Who does your target market represent?
- What does your target market need?
- Who are your competitors?
- What makes your business or group different from your competitors?
- What are the unique benefits that derive from your products or services?
Be Brutally Honest
When you meet with your team, associates, or customers, ask them to be brutally honest. Go over each point and describe your thoughts. You may be surprised to find that others do not agree with what your target market needs, or even who your target market represents. Think of your team as your collaborators: If they do not see what differences or advantages you have over your competitors, it's a sure bet that your customers don't see this distinction either
Miles Herndon, an Indianapolis-based branding agency, suggests using a fill-in-the-blank statement such as:
"My [Brand Name] provides ___(1)___ with ___(2)___ than any other [Your Industry]. We do this by ___(3a)___, ___(3b)___, and ___(3c)___."
Consider giving this—and perhaps a few other similar statements—to your collaborators before you describe what you think your company does and what it represents to customers.
Write a Draft Positioning Statement
Use the above information to write your positioning statement. The statement shouldn't be lengthy—one or two sentences or a short paragraph at most. Miles Herndon suggests this sample statement:
"Brice Co. provides men ages 24–35 with lower prices on sporting goods than any other sporting goods store. We do this by eliminating overhead, forming strategic partnerships with major brands, and matching any other price on the web."
Once you've crafted your statement, go through this brief checklist to ensure that it says what you want it to express:
- Make sure your statement is clear and defensible. Keep in mind that a statement of position expresses how your company wishes to be perceived.
- Your statement should create clarity, consistency, and continuity for the target market that your organization serves.
- Incorporate any and all constructive criticism that your collaborators have provided. This will help you to produce a more honest and accurate statement.
Write a Final Positioning Statement
After you've crafted your statement, meet with your team again. Be open to criticism and be ready to revise your statement as needed. Indeed, you might want to hand each member of the team a copy of the statement you've crafted—tell them it's a rough draft—and give team members an opportunity to make any changes they might feel are needed. Use all of that input to create a final positioning statement.
Even after you craft a final positioning statement, remember that your brand is a moving target: As the market changes, you may have to revise your positioning statement from time to time to reflect changing realities.