A Simple Framework for Writing Positioning

I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of smart marketers and communicators, and the one thing I’ve noticed is that everyone has a different format for creating positioning and messaging.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as it’s working.  A successful positioning document should serve as something that everyone in your organization can look at to help guide the way you talk about your products and services, and really ensures that you are speaking with one, consistent voice to the market.

Here’s a basic framework I’ve pulled together from some of the good ones.  Whether you’re doing marketing for a huge company with thousands of employees or a two-person startup, these are the things that every positioning document should have:

Section 1: Positioning Statement

This is your positioning statement/value proposition.  At a very basic level, it should answer these questions: Who’s it for? What does it do? How is it different from anything else?

One way to develop your positioning statement is to follow this formula:

  • For ___ (Target Audience)
  • Who want __(Key benefit/reason to buy)
  • Product name + description (What does your product do?)
  • Key differentiator (Unlike other solutions..)

Section 2: Value Proposition

Your value proposition is the promise that you make to your customers about your product/service.  Dump the jargon and buzz words here.  We can do without the “Company XYZ is the leading, innovative provider of best-in-breed ____.”  Get right to the benefit that your potential customers will receive.  Think about creating a one line and a three-five line version (one liner might be the hero message on your website; five liner might be your boilerplate/about us).

Section 3: Key Messages

Messaging is the way you creatively articulate your positioning.  It’s the vehicle that brings your positioning to the market  (think about how they would appear on your website, display ads, PPC etc.)

What are the three or four key messages that you want to get across?

Section 5: Key Stats/Proof Points

Just because you said so in your messaging doesn’t make it true.  Prove everything you’ve just said with data.  Don’t have any compelling data? What about a customer example or a case study? Those work well too.

Section 6: Competitive Overview

Who are you competing with? List them out and provide a quick statement on why you are better.

That’s the basic framework for a positioning document.  Think of this as a worksheet.  Fill it out, spread it across your organization and you will go a long way with making sure your messages are consistent and you are going to market with one voice.  But remember – positioning and messaging isn’t the end all be all.  It’s just meant to open the door and start a conversation with a potential buyer.

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