Obviously Awesome – April Dunford
How to find your product’s “secret sauce” and then sell it to those who desire it.
The signs of weak positioning
- Your current customers love you, but new prospects don’t understand what you’re selling.
- Your company has long sales cycles and low close rates, and you’re losing out to the competition.
- You have high customer churn.
- You’re under price pressure.
Components of effective positioning
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- Competitive alternatives. What would your customers do if your solution didn’t exist?
- Unique attributes. The features and capabilities that you have and the alternatives you lack.
- Value (and proof). The benefit that those features enable for customers.
- Target market characteristics. The characteristics of a group of buyers that lead them to care about the value you deliver.
- Market category. The market you describe yourself as being part of to help customers understand your value.
- Relevant trends. Trends that your target customers understand that can help make your product more relevant right now.
The 10-step positioning process
- Understand the customers who love your product
- Form a positioning team
- Align your positioning vocabulary and let go of your positioning baggage.
- List your true competitive alternatives
- Isolate your unique attributes or features
- Map the attributes to value “themes”
- Determine who cares a lot
- Find a market frame of reference that puts our strengths at the centre and determine how to position in it
- Layer on a trend (but be careful)
- Capture your positioning so it can be shared.
Understand the customers who love your product
Your best-fit customers hold the key to understanding what your product is.
Make a shortlist of your best customers. The best customers understood your product quickly and bought from you quickly. They referred you to other companies and acted as a reference for you.
Form a positioning team
A positioning process works best when it’s a team effort from different functions within the company, as they can bring a unique perspective to how customers perceive and experience the product.
Consider these outputs that all flow from positioning:
- Marketing: messaging, audience targeting and campaign development
- Sales and business development: target customer segmentation and account strategy
- Customer success: onboarding and account expansion strategy
- Product and development: roadmaps and prioritisation
Align your positioning vocabulary and let go of your positioning baggage
We have to consciously set aside our old ways of thinking to consider possible new ways to think about a product. This can be done with a common positioning vocabulary.
Get the agreement from the team that the product may no longer be best positioned in the way it was created with a certain market and audience in mind.
Understanding the customer’s problem isn’t enough. It is also important to understand the alternatives you are compared to.
To do that, you need to understand who your real competitors are in the minds of customers. Grouping the alternatives can help the team move to the next step.
Determine who cares a lot
Once you have a good understanding of the value that your product delivers, look at which customers really care about that value.
Actionable segmentation captures a list of easily identifiable characteristics of a person or company that make them really care about what you do.
The segment needs to be big enough that it’s possible to meet the goals of your business and have important, specific, unmet needs that are common to the segment.
Find a market frame of reference that puts your strengths at the centre
Pick a market frame of reference that makes your value evident to those who care about that value.
When you choose to position yourself within a specific market, you give your prospects clues about what products they should compare you with.
- Positioning to win a subsegment of an existing market by targeting buyers who have different requirements that the current overall market leader is not meeting.
- Create a new market category that deserves to exist.
Layer on a trend
You can use a current trend to your advantage if it helps to reinforce your position and the value of your offerings. Aligning with a trend can help make your offering look current and relevant.
Only use trends when they have a clear link to your product.
Use a trend if it is possible, but you can have a successful business without being trendy.
Capture Your Positioning so It Can Be Shared
Once you have worked through your positioning, you need to share it across the organisation.
Positioning needs to have company buy-in so it can be used to inform branding, marketing campaigns, sales strategy, product decisions and customer-success strategy.