Answer four questions to determine if it’s time to change your position

If there is a valid reason to change your position, this is the best time to do it while there is a lull in the action. Your target audience is thinking about vacation, not buying software. You’re probably juggling less balls in the air and have a little time to think about positioning. read more

Can ruthless positioning be bloody?

The podcast host immediately pounces on my off-the-cuff assertion that you need to be ruthless when you do positioning. “That sounds very bloody,” says Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, host of the MarketingProfs podcast series “Marketing Smarts.”

Kerry then quickly asks what I meant by being ruthless. Hear my response when the podcast goes live Wednesday at 9 am Central.  In the broad ranging interview, Kerry asks a number of penetrating questions about my approach to positioning. Ruthlessness is one example. There are others as we discuss the value of positioning and factors that affect it.

Being ruthless helps you uncover the unvarnished truth about your product, and nothing sells better than the truth. However expect resistance to your ruthlessness when seeking input and feedback during the effort to converge on the ideal position. It can get bloody especially when dealing with egos, biases and unfounded beliefs about the wonders of your product.

Here’s how to be ruthless and the bloody battles that could negatively impact the effectiveness of your positioning and message strategy development:

Focus like a laser on your ideal prospect profile: Expect the battle to get bloody with those who want to go after anyone with a wallet. But just because your sales team is resourceful enough to win a few one-off deals does not mean they should affect your positioning strategy. By being ruthless about your ideal prospect, and realizing you can’t sell to everyone, your marketing will generate more ideal leads that are easier to sell to because they are made for your product. Plus even this ruthless approach attracts an occasional one-off sale. It’s the best of both worlds!

Select one target buyer: read more

A positioning process that builds consensus

One of the most important goals of the positioning process I teach is to foster buy-in and consensus to the message strategy you create. You can achieve buy-in and consensus by involving as many stakeholders as is practical throughout the process and getting management approval at the end.

The best way to converge on the ideal message strategy is through an iterative process that results in thorough consideration of all options, opinions and ideas. An inclusive approach to the positioning process fosters consensus and buy-in necessary to get everyone to embrace and use the final message strategy in all external communications. Instead of winging it like sales and management usually do, they will use the message strategy because they had a say in it.

Lack of consensus a big problem

Lack of consensus about the marketing message is one of the most common problems in B2B software and technology. Here’s a typical scenario I’ve encountered when working for B2B software companies in a marketing capacity and as a consultant:

A president will tell you his or her sales and marketing teams just don’t get it. If only they’d listen to the president’s story and use it. Ask the VP of Sales and the VP of Marketing why someone should care about the company’s products or services, and you’ll get two different stories.

The top sales person has another great pitch, and so it goes. Sales and marketing efforts are diluted, and far less effective than they could be. That’s why getting organizational buy-in to your message strategies is a key contributor to successful positioning.

What is positioning?

Positioning is the mental space in your 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 audience’s most pressing problem meet, and form a meaningful relationship.

The only way to claim a position is to consistently execute your positioning statement in all marketing communications over an extended period of time, and repeat it over and over. That’s why you want everyone in your organization telling the same story, and especially sales and management.

You start the positioning process by doing the research that I call the 3Cs of successful positioning. This blog explains that to position effectively, you need a thorough understanding of customer problems, competitors’ positioning and channel issues and challenges. Once you’ve documented your research in a rationale document, start by brainstorming positioning statement options.

A positioning statement expresses a benefit that solves your target audience’s most pressing problem. A stack-ranked list of customer problems helps everyone involved in providing input and feedback to focus on proposing positioning statement options that solve the No. 1 problem.

Get as much input and feedback from stakeholders as possible read more