A position statement, also referred to as a brand positioning statement or brand strategy, is a corporate declaration which clearly defines your company’s place in the market and helps you get your marketing in order for higher profits. With your target audience in mind, it describes not only the key benefits of your product or service, but also states exactly how you are different from your competitors in the market, essentially painting a compelling picture of how you want your customers to perceive and relate to your brand.
A positioning statement helps bring clarity and focus to your marketing strategy and leverages your expertise to promote and grow your business. It helps you define your advertising tactics; and, it gives you a point of reference from which to make decisions regarding everything about your image: your brand name and its essence, your product and its packaging, and your advertising campaigns. A positioning statement example could look like either one of the two below:
For (target audience), (brand) is the (frame of reference) that delivers (benefit/point of difference) because only (brand name) is (reason to believe).
For (your target) who wants / needs (reason to buy your product/service), the (your product or service) is a (category) that provides (your key benefit). Unlike (your main competitor), the (your product/service) (your key differentiator).
Now, let’s take a deeper look at the essential elements of a positioning statement:
In defining your target audience you need to look at two elements: attitude and demographics. You simply cannot appeal to everyone or your product or service would be too generic. Here are some questions to consider when defining your target audience: Who is your customer and exactly what do they want? Are they hip, urban professionals, or, are they retired somewhere in sunny Florida? Is your product geared toward solving a particular problem or does it address a specific need? Your target audience is the group of people to whom you want to appeal. You have to understand both what they want and what they are looking for in a product or service like the one you are offering.
According to the American Marketing Association, a brand is “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one sellers good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller.” A good brand name will have many dimensions and qualities to it – qualities that are both tangible and intangible. Your brand will encompass how people relate to and think about your product or service, including their perceptions, feelings, and attitude toward it. Think about how people feel about their Apple products or their Starbucks coffee.
Through good advertising, a brand will actually unconsciously shape your customer’s associations, experiences, feelings, attitudes, and perceptions. A good brand commands and sustains a higher profit margin than a competitor’s. When people develop an emotional attachment to a specific brand, they are usually extraordinarily loyal to it. They will even pay more for a product to which they are emotionally attached, and rarely will they even consider switching brands. This is the kind of loyalty that sustains products for decades.
Creating a brand essence is essential to establishing this kind of emotional connection. A brand essence often tells or implies a story or a history behind it. Think about Walt Disney and his themes of fantasy, magic, and family. Or consider Nike as a brand of inspiration with its quotes such as, “They can’t stop what they can’t catch” or “only they who can see can do the impossible.”
Your brand essence should not sound contrived. It needs to be expressed authentically. Once distilled, your brand essence should be focused and consistently delivered in your advertising messages. And lastly, your brand essence should be experiential, that is, it should be something which truly resonates with your target audience – something to which your audience can immediately relate, on either an emotional or intellectual level, depending on the type of product and customer you have.
Benefit/Point of Difference
Your point of difference is sometimes called a brand strategy. A point of difference is the most compelling or motivating benefit of your brand. It should be something that captures the heart and mind of your audience – something that makes you stand out in relief, leaving your competition fading in the background.
How you differentiate yourself from the competition is what creates loyal customers, ones who will not only continue to buy your product no matter what, but who will also talk about your product or service to others. A point of difference is not about fancy words or empty promises; it is about the ability to deliver on what you say.
To establish your point of difference, first ask yourself how your product or service compares with similar products in the market. More importantly, how is your product different from others? What are the most powerful motivators for your target audience? Make sure your selling points are something your target audience can immediately understand, such as “50% more than the other brands” or “provides better coverage”. Think about redefining the category in which you are competing.
Find ways to describe your product that are meaningful to your target audience. Find an emotional hook. Make sure it’s credible and that your product stands behind what you say about it; and make sure whatever you say, truly differentiates you from the rest. Another way to differentiate your product is to find a pain point.
Solving pain is big business. The better the solution, the more money people will pay. Pain points often revolve around daily pressures, such as family issues, job matters, or time pressures, while others can be more socially oriented. Any place where people feel uncomfortable, frustrated, or bothered is a way into the market; and, the more urgent and difficult the problem, the better chance you have of selling them a remedy – as long as you can truly deliver one.
If you can truly deliver a remedy to a problem, then describe in detail how you can do that more effectively than your competitors in the market can. Do you have a unique and proprietary solution? If so, the better your product or service is at solving the problem, the more valuable it is likely to be perceived.
Competitive Frame of Reference
Basically speaking, this is the category in which your brand competes, such as soft drinks, televisions, or laptops. That’s easy enough to understand. Sometimes, however, the market in which you compete is not so clear, for example when your product is competing in less obvious or multiple markets. In the latter case, you have to create points of difference for each market.
Starbucks is a common example of this. At first thought, you may think coffee is their market, but Starbucks is actually a lot more than just coffee. Their claim is “we want to be your third place, somewhere you hang out when you are not at home or at work.” Or consider cell phones now. They are not only tools for communication, but also serve as miniature computers and music players. For some really good examples of competitive frame of reference, check out this article on Branding Strategy Insider.
Reason to Believe
Once you establish your point of difference, then you have to give your target audience a reason to believe in your product. In marketing jargon, a reason to believe is also called “brand proof points” or “support”. Here is where the old saying, “Put your money where your mouth is” comes in.
You cannot rely on faith-based marketing strategies. Ask yourself, “What is the most convincing evidence you can provide that your brand can deliver on its key promises or benefits?” Back in the 70s, the toothpaste brand Crest used to say, “Four out of five dentists recommend Crest,” and everyone believed it, giving Crest a huge competitive advantage.
What are your claims? List your technical benefits: faster, clearer, or stronger than your competitors. Appeal to the emotional benefits of your product: brighter, better gray coverage, goes on thicker. If you claim your product is “50% faster,” then prove it. If you say your product gives better coverage or makes a person’s hair softer and shinier, say why. Tell them you have a better ingredient – something your competitors don’t have. And whatever your claim, show your chain of evidence to support it. Substantiate everything you say. This seals the link between your product and its benefit in the hearts and minds of your audience. And remember, if they believe it, they will talk about it.
Your position statement is your road map to success; and, some experts even consider it the be the single most important element of a company’s vision plan. If you are ready to craft your positioning statement, a good course on Marketing Strategy can ensure you have the essential elements in good order.