What is a positioning statement?
Your company’s positioning statement defines how you relate to your competitors. Defining your position within your industry gives you the opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition, which is crucial for your company’s success. Determining your position helps you to stand out, but also helps you to directly address your target market in order to show them that you have something unique to offer.
What does your positioning statement mean to you?
It means you understand what your message should be and what you offer because you understand how you relate to others with a similar offering.
What does your positioning statement mean to your clients?
If you do a good job of projecting your position within the market, it means your clientele understands why they come to you instead of someone else.
Without clearly defining your positioning statement, at best, you end up with a confused customer base. If they don’t know what to expect from you, it will be harder to make them happy.
Kmart is a classic example of what can go wrong if you don’t clearly position yourself in your market. I’m willing to bet when you think of big-box stores you imagine Wal-Mart and/or Target. If you were asked to think of a third, maybe Kmart would have been your next answer, maybe it wouldn’t. Now, if I were to ask you to compare Wal-mart and Target, I bet you easily could. While both have a convenience factor, Wal-Mart’s focus is on low prices and Target’s is on lifestyle. What is Kmart’s? They were trying to harness both specialties and be everything to both audiences. In the end, it feels unclear what value they offer. This is a great example of the basis of a positioning statement.
How do you write your own positioning statement?
The first step in doing this is defining the market you are speaking to. Essentially, all of your marketing strategies should stem from your target market and positioning statement. If you haven’t defined your target market, you can learn more about how to do that in this post about target markets, but the gist is that you need to determine who you are advertising to on different demographic and lifestyle levels ranging from age to gender to occupation and more.
Once you determine your target market, you need to identify the value your product or service is bringing to your customer. Are you the go to for low prices? High quality? Service? What sets you apart? The way you specify your services is the reason people will develop a loyalty to your brand because they can get something from you that they can’t get anywhere else.
Next, you need to ask yourself a few questions to determine how you provide this value. A good way to think of developing your positioning statement is to think of the "W" questions.
- What is your company? What service or product do you offer?
- How do you offer your service? How are you different?
- Who is it for?
- Where does this happen?
- When does this happen?
While brainstorming for this post, I was talking with a friend at one of our favorite pubs (if you live in the area and haven’t been to William Oliver’s Publick House, you are missing out!) We used this establishment as an example and it worked really well, so I am going to do the same thing here to show what a positioning statement could look like.
"William Oliver’s Publick House is a restaurant serving a pub-inspired menu and specializing in whiskey and bacon. Our relaxed atmosphere is an appealing place for young to middle-aged couples or groups of friends to enjoy a leisurely and relaxed meal because we believe in a slower paced lifestyle in order to spend quality time with ones you care about. You can find us in Fort Collins, CO open 7 days a week from 11am-2am with brunch on the weekends."
Let’s take a closer look at some of those points.
By having their menu and atmosphere position them as a laid back place, they are attracting their target audience. They aren’t trying to appeal to college students with late night deals or older couples with early bird specials. By specializing in whiskey, they aren’t trying too hard to attract many families. By specializing in bacon, they are offering something that you can’t get anywhere else in town. I can personally attest that (at least from my standpoint) their strategies are working. I know what to expect when I get there, and I know that I can’t find quite the same thing anywhere else. If your customers or clients were asked to define you in this way, could they do it?
Using these strategies will help you to identify your niche within the larger scope of your industry and implementing these ideas will help you stand out and reach your loyal base.