In this video, explore the five elements of positioning and learn the basic positioning statement.
- The foundation of any successful B to B marketing plan is the positioning statement. It's your internal bedrock that communicates the who, the what, and the why of your product or service. In his 1991 book, Crossing the Chasm, Geoffrey Moore laid out a basic structure for product positioning which has stood the test of time. Adapting Moore's framework to today's market, we can easily identify the five key elements to any positioning statement. These elements are first, the target market, second, the problem to be solved, third, the product category, fourth, the unique value that you deliver, and fifth, the differentiated capabilities and features that deliver that value.
A positioning statement then takes this form. For target customers who need to solve this problem, your product is a category. Unlike competitors such as ABC and XYZ, your product delivers these three to five unique value statements by providing these differentiated capabilities. Let's take a look at a quick example. Here's one from FireEye, a leading provider of cyber security solutions.
When we first launched FireEye Solution in 2009, two years before their successful IPO, here's the positioning statement we used. For chief information security officers in high-risk industries who need to protect their networks and data from modern malware attacks, FireEye is an advanced malware protection solution that detects previously unknown malware and prevents that malware from infiltrating the network. Unlike firewalls, FireEye uses a signatureless, virtual machine detection engine.
It's easy to see how once you have a clear and crisp positioning statement, you're entire go to market strategy can come into focus. Let's go through the elements of the positioning statement in a little more detail. Your target market is critical to define, in order to be meaningful and valuable to customers. A prominent venture capitalist once observed that more startups die of indigestion rather than starvation. What he meant by that is they try to be too many things to too many customers.
Your first positioning decision is to choose your target market. Once we focus on our target market, we can better define the problem to be solved. Here, we want a big enough problem to get the market's attention, but not to overreach on what we can actually do. In our example, FireEye chose to not position itself as a replacement for existing products, but as a solution to the new emerging, modern malware threat. So they chose a big problem that got attention of the buyer, but one that's small enough that they could focus on a solution.
They didn't get indigestion. Next, we have to describe the category that we are in. For many, this is simply stating that you're part of an existing category. Or, you can choose to create a new one like FireEye did. This is a fundamental choice. Lastly, we must define our unique value. Unique values are business benefits that the customer will exchange their time and money for. Customers buy benefits, not features. Features might be cool, but benefits are what make sales.
This is the most important part of the positioning statement and often the least well done, because many companies are so proud of their features, they get lost in showing them off, rather than focusing on their value. So, in order to successfully market your B to B product or service, a well thought out, documented, and validated positioning statement is just a must. Once we have that in place, the rest as they say, is just details.
- Category choice
- Building key messages
- Supporting key messages
- Creating a positioning statement
- Implementing your message