Why multi-claim positioning statements don’t work

Boxing GlovesMany marketers either forget or fail to realize that the mind likes it simple when they create their organization’s positioning statements. For example, I thought I had found a record for the number of benefit claims in one positioning statement when I stumbled across this mouthful:

“Panorama Software helps companies reduce costs and improve corporate performance by enabling collaborative decision making and unlocking actionable insights contained within their data.”

Panorama apparently couldn’t decide which claim is most important and figured if you throw you-know-what on the wall, something will stick. The problem with this approach is that if prospects listen – which is a big if – they will lock onto different claims. One might remember Panorama as the company who helps them grow revenues. Another might zero in on improved corporate performance. And yet another on cost reduction.

I didn’t think it was possible to outdo Panorama. But I was wrong. I recently came across this gem:

“Aviana turns insights into knowledge with solutions that offer the highest ROI by providing effective decision making and precise and accurate information across the entire business to ensure peak performance.”

What makes this sentence even worse is that every claim Aviana is making is likely being made by competitors in the Business Intelligence market.

Marketers Need to Remember That the Mind Doesn’t React Positively to Too Many Ideas or Benefits Thrown Out in Rapid Fire Succession…

Ideally your positioning statement contains one benefit that addresses the target audience’s most pressing problem. Two benefits is OK as long as they don’t compete for supremacy, and they fit together nicely and logically. But stating more than two benefits is a sure way to confuse the market and fail in your effort to claim a position.

That’s because consistency and repetition play the most critical role in effective positioning. It can take at least a year and probably longer to establish a position if you are making a claim that is important, unique and believable. Repeating the same message over and over and over again will help get you there faster.

But you’ll never claim a position by making multiple claims. Here’s why:

1)      It is next to impossible to execute a multi-claim positioning statement consistently and repetitively. It’s easy when you only state one benefit.

2)      Even under the best of circumstances each of the claims compete for importance. How does the recipient of multiple claims decide which one to lock onto? And which one will stick? Probably none of them.

3)      As mentioned earlier, the decision making portion of the brain likes simple concepts that are easy to understand. And, it likes one concept at a time. Multiple concepts do not compute!

Now, if multiple claim positioning statements do not work – why do sales and marketing use them all the time?

Why Marketers Can’t Decide on the #1 Benefit That Their Positioning Statements Should Focus On…

I’m not exactly sure why some B2B technology companies can’t be decisive when they are positioning their product, solution or company. Politics may have something to do with it. Everyone has a favorite benefit so to get buy-in, marketers go with multiple benefit claims.

Another reason for multiple claims may be a fear that making one benefit claim will miss the mark. But it won’t if you are ruthless during the positioning process and follow the simple steps below.

How to Make Sure Your Positioning Connects with Key Buyers

Step 1: Identify your target audience’s most pressing problems.

In addition to interviewing customers, get feedback from your channel, and anyone else in your company who has an opinion about what’s keeping your target audience awake at night. Also, make sure you “integrate” and “synthesize” all of the data that’s siloed within your organization. You want to get a complete picture of your prospects and clients so you connected to reality and the real world.

Step 2: Rank the listed problems and make sure the key people involved in positioning have their say.

Get everyone to agree which problem is most pressing, and then start to brain storm positioning statements. They should state a benefit – why the target market should care about your offering – that addresses the No. 1 problem of your target audience.

Step 3: Test your positioning statement options to determine if they are unique

Differentiation is critical to claiming a position in your market. But too many competing B2B software and technology companies make the same claim. The more claims you make, the more likely you’ll be making similar claims that turn you into a “me too” marketing machine.

It’s easy to figure out how your competitors are positioned because they do it in public. Evaluate their web sites, marketing materials, press releases and e-mail promotions. Competitors doing a good job of positioning will have a consistent theme throughout their marketing communications. Some may have no position because of the multiple claims they are making. Others may explain what they do, but fail to make a benefit claim that addresses the target audience’s No. 1 problem. Also expect to find several competitors making identical claims.

After you have determined how competitors are positioned, you’ll be able to see if any of your positioning statement options are unique. Go with the one that sets you apart from the competition. If none differentiate you, go back to the drawing board.

Remember, a positioning statement is effective when….

  • It addressed the target audience’s No. 1 problem
  • It’s unique – only you are making the claim
  • It’s believable – it seems inherently true.

Now, notice I said problem, not problems. Your positioning statement should not be like a Swiss army knife that has a little something for everyone. Instead, state one benefit, and then consistently repeat it over and over in all your marketing communication. Your single-minded purpose will reward you with a position that is uniquely yours. Make multiple claims and you’ll have no position at all. You can learn more about my positioning process with my free ebook here.