A simple approach puts you on the fast track to positioning success

Note to the reader: This was written to complement an AIPMM webcast series: Positioning simplified. The fast track to positioning success

How much time will you spend debating what to say in your next marketing campaign or what your new position should be? Will you be confident it will resonate with your target audience?

Does sales complain about the leads it gets? Do you think effective positioning might stop the complaints, but it seems too complex, and time consuming? Do you have competing priorities and little or no time to do positioning?

If you can relate to any of these challenges, consider a short-cut that puts you on the fast track to positioning success. Whether you are in product management, product marketing or marketing, simply take the following steps that will take less time than it takes to debate what to say in the next marketing campaign:

1) Get a list of customer problems or create a list and rank them.

2) Create a positioning statement that is important; it states a benefit that solves the No. 1 problem of your target audience.

3) Test your positioning statement for uniqueness; only you are making the claim expressed in your positioning statement. No other competitor is making the claim you are making.

4) Create support points that complete your message strategy – a positioning statement and three to four support points that substantiate the claim made in the positioning statement.

Once you have created a message strategy that has an important, unique positioning statement, consistently execute it, and tap into the power of repetition.

You can test this approach when creating your next marketing campaign. It might speed up time-to-marketing and improve lead quality.

If this simple approach focuses debate on issues that matter during campaign brainstorming and creation, then try it when you launch the next version of your product, a new offering or a new service.

Here is useful detail about the steps outline above:

1) Get a list of customer problems or create a list and rank them:

The discipline of identifying, documenting, and then ranking customer problems is perhaps the most critical step in your journey toward positioning success.

Customer problems drive product development, therefore, you or someone in your company – either in product management or product marketing – already has a list of customer problems. If you don’t have access to the list, a quick way to pull it together is to ask your sales professionals what problems cause prospects to be in buy mode.

If you only have time to identify customer problems by getting them from sales, at least the intelligence is coming directly from the battle front. Sales is one of the best sources of information about your customer and competition. It’s your first avenue of interaction with what you hope will become your customer. And it’s the battleground for the ongoing war with your competitors.

2) Create a positioning statement that is important

Brainstorming positioning statement options can go on forever without focus and direction. The list of problems gives you a target that focuses brainstorming on the No. 1 problem. Reject any potential positioning statements that fail to state a benefit that solves the No. 1 problem. Here’s why according to Neuromarketing:

The decision-making portion of the brain has no patience or empathy for anything that does not immediately concern its own well-being and survival. One hundred percent of your message should focus on your audience, not you. Your audience wants to hear what you can do for them before they will pay attention to you. Buyers really don’t care even if you are No. 1 or the leader or the most innovative. They are in buy mode because they have a problem. Tell them how you solve it!

A positioning statement responds to a prospect’s primary problem. When it does, your positioning statement creates confidence in your ability to offer a desirable solution, one that creates a sense of urgency in your prospect’s mind. For more information read why differentiate and how to do it.

3) Test your positioning statement for uniqueness

It’s fairly easy to scout your competition and learn how they are positioned because they do it in public. The fastest way to determine how your competitors are positioned is to evaluate their websites.

A positioning statement or concept frequently appears in a prominent place on the home page. A good one should contain a focused benefit idea or concept that addresses a real business challenge and, ideally, the target audience’s number one problem. For each competitor, analyze the home page, and if necessary several other pages such as product overview, solutions, why us and about us.

Once you have determined the position for each competitor, organize the claims in a table. Some competitors are likely to have similar or even identical positioning statements. Other competitors may publish many claims, making it more difficult to determine how they are positioned, if at all. It is a common mistake for companies to make two or more benefit claims of equal importance.

Unique claims highlight the difference, gap, or disruption the brain is seeking to justify a quick decision.

According to Neuromarketing, the brain makes decisions and “responds favorably to clear, solid contrast. It is hard wired to pay attention to contrast.  Sharp contrast helps your prospects’ brain make decisions more quickly and easily, and contrast is often needed to trigger the brain to make a decision.”

4) Create support points that complete your message strategy

A message strategy includes the positioning statement you have already created and three to four support points. The combination is like a recipe for all marketing communications. Follow the recipe and you get a good dish…. a story!

Support points unfold your story in more detail and explains how you deliver on the promise made in the positioning statement. “That’s interesting, tell me more,” is the reaction you want from your target audience. Good support points – three to four of them – will pique their interest because they explain how you deliver on the promise in your positioning statement.

By creating a message strategy, you eliminate the first question that comes up when a new marketing piece is in the planning stage – “What should we write about?” Instead, the question is, “How do we execute the message strategy?”

Read this blog about executing your message strategy in all your marketing communications.

Consistency and repetition

Surprisingly, consistency and repetition are the most important factors in claiming a position and giving it staying power. Use your positioning statement as the theme for all your marketing communications, and within each one, repeat it as much as possible. Read this blog about the importance of consistency and repetition.

What is the difference between the consistency and repetition, and which is more important?

Consistency means sticking to your position as the central theme in all your marketing communications. Being consistent means delivering your message strategy accurately in all media, all channels, and all markets.

Your message strategy makes it easier to deliver the same message consistently across all marketing media including websites, brochures, advertisements and presentations to investors, industry analysts and prospects.  Think of your message strategy as a recipe for all marketing communication. Follow the recipe, adjusting it for the audience and situation, and you get a good story, one that you can easily repeat over and over until your target audience listens and takes action.

Repetition – that is, repeatedly exposing the target audience to executions of the same message over an extended period of time – is perhaps the most important factor in claiming a position and giving it staying power.

Repetition means communicating your message over and over and over and over until you are sick of it, and then keep repeating it.

Why be so persistent? Your prospects know nothing about your offering, and they really don’t care. You’re competing with thousands of other messages. Put yours out there often.

That’s one of many takeaways from a book I highly recommend, “Neuromarketing. Understanding the “Buy Buttons” in Your Customer’s Brain.” According to one of the authors, Patrick S. Renvoise, here’s why you make your positioning statement more memorable by repeating it over and over:

“Even the repetition of a few simple words sends a strong signal to the reptilian brain, prompting it to note, ‘I should remember that.’ Repeat your claims so that the reptilian brain will bookmark them as important…

“The most solid and logical message, though it may interest your prospect, will not trigger a buying decision unless the primitive, reptilian brain understands and remembers it.”

Repeat your claims so that the reptilian brain will bookmark them as important.  Donald Trump uses this technique to great effect all the time.

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