Product positioning: How SAAS founders can go about it

Recently read April Dunford’s Obviously Awesome after seeing just how many of our port co’s struggle with messaging / positioning their products. A few key take-aways for SaaS founders looking to crack the oft-elusive “positioning” problem THREAD 🧵⬇️
1/ What is positioning? Positioning is the act of *deliberately defining* how you are the BEST at something that a *defined market* cares A LOT about Positioning is context setting: creating a frame of reference for your customer.
2/ Signs of weak positioning Confused new prospects, long sales cycles, low close rates, low MQLs / high lead cost, high customer churn, constant price pressure from your acquired customers. Founders may face one or a few or all of these
3/ STEP ONE: Understand the customers who LOVE your product Make a list of “best customers” – understand why THEY love your product. How do they describe your product – its differentiation, its impact? Find patterns Customer-centric positioning starts with customers
4/ STEP TWO: Align stakeholders, eliminate historical baggage Positioning needs to be led by a founder/CEO as a strategy call. But changes in positioning impacts marketing, sales, customer success, product Align all stakeholders & set expectations that EVERYTHING may change
5/ STEP THREE: List your true competitive alternatives Ask your best customers: what would they do if you didnt exist? rank this list of responses from most common to least common Then cluster these alternatives into 3-5 thematic buckets (eg doing it manually; payroll solution)
6/ STEP FOUR: Isolate your unique attributes List all capabilities you have that your competitive alternatives do not. These can be features, but also partnerships, biz model, customer service, expertise.
7/ Be as data-backed and objective as possible and narrow this list to “consideration capabilities” that customers care about when making a purchase.
8/ STEP FIVE: Map attributes to value themes Translate features / capabilities -> benefits -> customer value. Eg 1 click reports (feature) -> fast report generation (benefit) -> enabling every part of the org to make a real-time decision (value)
9/ STEP SIX: Segment customers who care about your value themes This segment should be big enough to hit your medium-term sales goals but narrow enough to target with accuracy – they must have important, specific unmet needs that your value theme addresses
10/ STEP SEVEN: Find the right market reference This is a gnarly step, but a market reference will always trigger a set of assumptions about you in a customer’s mind — about competitors, features, pricing
11/ Typically, there are just 3 flavors to market references (1) Position yourself to win a market with an established leader (2) Position yourself to win a subsegment of an established market that is under-addressed in some way (3) Create a new market
12/ Positioning can make or break your product – that is the power of packaging and messaging
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