Focus your positioning in twenty-one words or less.

Saying “no” to some opportunities can increase your chances of “getting to yes.”

No one feels good about turning away business. And many marketers fear narrowing their market positioning will do just that. But the truth is a narrowly focused positioning will actually help you stop wasting time, resources, and capital trying to service and chase the wrong customers, and evaluate and decline unprofitable or untenable business opportunities.

What to keep in mind when creating a stronger positioning statement

A positioning statement is not a tagline, mission statement, or brand promise. It is not meant to be communicated to customers verbatim. It does not, and should not, promise to be all things to all people. Rather, it provides a framework for every interaction with current and potential customers, so each works in concert and promotes a cohesive brand and market identity. More importantly, a positioning statement shouldn’t change significantly every year. It may evolve as customers and markets evolve, but it needs to stand for a company-wide commitment.

If you’re ready to evaluate your current positioning or create a new direction entirely, here’s a quick rundown of the basic questions you need to have answered and agreed upon:

In seven words or less, what is it you do here, exactly?

This may seem like a simple question, but within many companies, the answer turns into multiple paragraphs—none of which states a clear answer. If you can’t answer the question succinctly, neither can your customers. Define your business offering as narrowly as possible. Remember, your positioning doesn’t have to explain everything your company does, but it does need to encompass everything you offer.

In seven words or less, what makes you so special?

Think differentiation. What aspects of your offering or operations go beyond the basic table stakes of your industry? What can you do that your competitors can’t do, either at all or as well?

In seven words or less, why should anyone care?

So, you should feel good at this point that you have answered what you do and what makes you special. But now comes the toughest part—your customers saying, “So what?” At this point I am reminded of something a friend in the financial industry once said to me: “If you ask a question and the answer’s not ‘money,’ ask it again.” Now, we believe it is perfectly acceptable to add “time” to that answer set. But either way, because we are discussing positioning for a business, your value to your customers should involve an actual quantifiable benefit—time or money—on some level.

Need a shortcut? Try our “fill in the blanks” approach.

<Your company name> is a ____________ (business type/category) that/who helps _________ (target audience) reach/achieve ____________ (primary benefit). Unlike other ____________ (business type/category), <your company name> _______________ (competitive advantage).


Still having trouble setting a clear vision for your company's positioning?

Since 1985, Magnani Continuum Marketing has made it easier for organizations selling in highly technical and complex markets to better position themselves to deliver the most effective and seamless traditional and digital brand experiences. We're more digital than your advertising agency. More strategic than your digital marketing shop. More creative than your management consultants. And we're a heck of a lot easier to work with than almost all of them.

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