First 3 Pages
Positioning: How to talk so the market will listen
Everyone loves a good story. In fact, we love stories so much that we allow them to mold every aspect of our lives, including the way we buy B2B technology products, solutions and services. Commercial stories and messages play their own unique role in shaping our beliefs. We are bombarded with them; between 3,000 and 5,000 commercial messages every day of the year. Of the million or more messages you encountered in the last year, how many can you remember? How many were meaningful enough to shape your buying decision or to change your behavior?
Changing market behavior in B2B marketing requires changing awareness. And nothing changes awareness like stories that contain important user benefits. We call them message strategies, and this eBook explains how to create them. Message strategies have a positioning statement and three to four support points that become the central theme for all your marketing communications.
A positioning statement is a short, declarative sentence that addresses the target market’s most pressing problem by stating a benefit. In 12 words or less, not including company or product name, it makes it clear why the target market should care about your claim and take action.
“That’s interesting, tell me more,” is how you want your target audience to respond to your positioning statement. Support points unfold your story in more detail, and explain how you deliver on the promise made in the positioning statement.
WHAT IS POSITIONING?
There is often a debate about what positioning is, and what it is not. Confusing matters further, there are two proper usages of “positioning:”
1. How your company is situated relative to its competitors;
2. How your products and services are situated in the minds of customers and target audiences.
This eBook focuses exclusively on No. 2. We define positioning as a 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 product, solution, service or company’s most important benefit and the customer’s most important need meet, and hopefully form a meaningful relationship.
In Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore writes, “Positioning is the single largest influence on the buying decision.” Moore describes a position as a buyer’s shorthand for the best solution for a particular problem.
Good positioning entices a potential prospect to learn more about your offering. It also serves as the first level of qualification. Ideally you want a recipient to react to your message by thinking either “that’s me,” or “that’s not me.”
WHY IS POSITIONING IMPORTANT?
Positioning is the foundation for all your marketing communications. An effective positioning strategy makes it easier to deliver the same message across all marketing media including web sites, brochures, advertisements and presentations to investors, industry analysts and prospects.
With some effort, time and money, you can claim a position by consistently executing your message strategy in all your marketing communications.
Repetition is one of the most important factors in claiming a position and giving it staying power. Remember, you’ll get tired of your message strategy long before your target audience is tired of it — and sometimes even before all your audiences have heard your positioning for the first time. Give it a chance to work. You’ll be rewarded with your own unique position in the market, one that creates awareness and demand.
THE 3C’S OF SUCCESSFUL POSITIONING
To effectively position your B2B technology product, you need a thorough understanding of the 3Cs — your channel, your customer and your competition. That’s because each one of the three Cs has a significant impact on your positioning strategy. We call it the “3Cs of successful positioning,” and like positioning is the foundation for successful marketing, your 3Cs research is the foundation for a positioning strategy that sets you apart from the competition.
Expect to spend several weeks gathering the information that helps you converge on the ideal position for your B2B product. You can speed up the process by doing your channel research first.
The channel – how you sell whether direct or indirect – gives you fast access to initial information about the customer and the competition. It’s where you start to gather the data that acts as the evidence to support your ultimate positioning strategy.
The channel helps you identify challenges in the sales cycle that may impact your message strategy. Channel intelligence also helps you zero in on competitive strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge insures that you focus your message strategy on what you do well, and steer clear of what you do not so well.
How to avoid “me too” positioning
While these insights are invaluable, your understanding of key customer problems and how your competitors are positioned has the biggest impact on your ultimate positioning statement. That’s because your positioning statement needs to be unique – no other competitor is making the claim – and important – it addresses the target buyer’s No. 1 problem.
When interviewing customers and prospects, your No. 1 objective is to identify with great clarity the problems that forced them to look for a new solution. Get them to tell you why they became a buyer. The more you understand about buyer motivations, the better your chance of selling to them.
Differentiation is the holy grail of marketing. Yet most B2B technology markets are filled with companies who embrace “me too” marketing; they are saying exactly what their competitors are saying.