Positioning done right takes time

Many B2B software and technologies companies don’t think positioning is important enough to take the time to do it effectively. That’s my take on the results of a survey about positioning I conducted last year. You can participate in the 2016 survey by clicking on this link. I’ll be publishing results in future blogs as trends become apparent.

Here’s a summary of some of the responses provided by B2B marketing professionals (63) who participated in my 2015 survey:

  • Only 28% believe positioning is more important than anything else in marketing. Here’s a link to a blog that argues that positioning is the foundation for everything you do in marketing, thus supporting the 28% who think it is mission critical.
  • 12% don’t think positioning is important, and 60 percent think it is no more important than any other marketing activity.
  • Not enough time is devoted to research. Only 26% do extensive research. The rest either don’t do as much as they’d like or very little (28%).
  • Not enough time is devoted to creating a positioning strategy. Just over a third (39%) said they spend enough time on it.
  • Only 63% have a formal process for positioning. More than one-third (37%) apparently just wing it perhaps making up messaging on-the-fly every time they create a new campaign.
  • 54% percent rated their positioning strategy very effective (5.45%) or effective (49.09%).

I am puzzled by the last finding – more than half think they are doing a good job of positioning, yet way less than half think they spend enough time on it. I think the odds are stacked against you when you don’t spend enough time on positioning – that mental space in the target audience’s mind that you can own with an idea that has compelling meaning to the recipient.

It’s in this mental space where your solution to the target’s most pressing problem meet and form a meaningful relationship.

You can claim a position by making an important claim that is unique – only you are making the claim – and then repeating it over and over until you are sick of it. Then keep repeating it for a long period of time.

Testing your positioning strategy takes time

But if you don’t spend enough time going through the entire positioning process, the chances of coming up with the right position for your company, product or services aren’t very good. It takes time and patience to find a positioning statement that meets a set of criteria I use to assess how it will be received in your market. Your target audience will ignore your message unless it is:

  • Unique – only you are making the claim
  • Important – it addresses the target audience’s No. 1 problem
  • Believable – it seems inherently true
  • Usable – it works in all your marketing communications

Besides evaluating believability which can be done quickly, you can spend significant time testing to know for sure your positioning statement will work on the battlefront. To determine importance requires significant fact finding from customers, prospects, sales and other stakeholders.

To determine uniqueness requires evaluating and determining how your competitors are positioned. Then make sure no one else has already claimed the position you want to claim.

To determine usability, you’ll want to see how it works in a variety of marketing communications including short descriptions (75, 150, 300 words), first page of two-page specifications sheet, first page of a brochure, first few paragraphs of a press release, first in a series of e-mails, webinar invitation and PowerPoint presentation for analysts, etc.

Can you speed up the positioning process?

There are ways to speed up the positioning process. One of them is presented in this blog about the 3Cs of successful positioning. But even under the best of circumstances, it’s a challenge to finish a positioning process in less than a month. And it can take a lot longer than that. I don’t think most B2B marketers can justify that kind of time commitment unless they believe positioning is more important than any aspect of marketing.

What do you think? How important is positioning? How much time do you devote to positioning? Do you have a formal positioning process? When was the last time you changed your position? These are some of the survey questions. Click here to take the multiple choice survey.

Other topics covered in this blog are explained in more detail in my eBook (Positioning: How to talk so the market will listen). It takes you step-by-step through a business process I’ve taught to hundreds of B2B marketers and product marketers around the world. Try it! You like it! That is, if you can spend enough time on the process covered in the eBook.