Cultivate Market Perception

Developing your positioning statement and key marketing messages is essential to establishing your market perception. It is important that your marketing efforts establish value in the minds of your customers. To do an effective job of developing your messages and positioning, you need to understand the difference between these two types of messages.

  • A positioning statement should express the way we want customers to think and feel about our products and services relative to the competition. It should only contain the one most salient aspect of your product or service that you wish to instill in your client’s mind. Its goal is to provide focus and direction for those communicating with the market.
  • The supporting key marketing messages contain all the important points about your product or service. Their goal is to gain attention and interest, generate a need, and elicit action.  Having consistent, focused marketing messages allow you to respond to the needs of your audience and create a demand for your services.

Develop Your Positioning Statement

By developing your positioning statement prior to executing any marketing programs, you create clarity and consistency in the way you speak to the market. This ensures continuity throughout all of your marketing and makes all forms of communications less complex and easier to manage. Without a positioning statement to guide the marketing effort, a company is apt to waste time and resources wandering aimlessly without direction or focus.

Developing a positioning statement is challenging, but not daunting. By using the following positioning statement template, we create a two-sentence statement that tells people what your product or service is, how they will benefit and why your product is different than others.

For <target customer> who <statement of problem>, our product/service is a <Your Solution> that <key benefit>. Unlike <main competitor>, our product <unique selling proposition>

  • Target customer. Identifying your target audience enables you to develop more effective messages by appealing to their wants and needs. Delivering the same message to different audiences in the same manner risks missing all targets with watered-down messages. One size does not necessarily fit all.
  • Statement of problem and your solution. Clearly articulating your prospect’s issue and providing a credible solution shows that you understand the prospect’s situation. Get their attention and they will listen to what you have to offer.
  • Key benefit your prospects will get if they engage your services. Benefits are not what you do, but how you do it. Entice your prospects with results, solutions and benefits to encourage them to make an emotion-based decision. Benefits included statements such as increase profits and revenue, improve communication, reduce expenses, improve customer satisfaction, or leverage a diverse workforce.
  • Unique Competitive Advantage. Your UCA is what separates you from your competition and provides your prospects with a clear advantage by doing business with you. Your UCA should reflect how you want to be positioned, as it will most likely determine how you get perceived in the market.

The following is an example of a positioning statement for a sales consultancy:

For small businesses who are struggling to increase sales productivity, XYZ Company helps them develop a repeatable sales process that supports the development of long-term profitable relationships with their clients. Unlike other sales coaching companies, we combine sales process improvement with technology to help our clients spend more time with customers discussing their strategic objectives.

Now you have the foundation from which to build all of your communications, both internal and external – from marketing collateral to Web sites to press releases. If communications do not support the desired positioning in the market or do not include or address the positioning statement and key messages, they are off strategy and not acceptable.

Develop Your Key Marketing Messages

Once you get that all important positioning statement created, you can develop key, supporting messages targeted at specific audiences. Your messages should focus on educating and informing, explaining the benefits of your services, and creating an image. They must be focused, crystal-clear and speak to the needs of your prospective clients. It should make them want to find out more, drive them to your web site, and get them to take your call or, ideally, call you.

Unfortunately, unlike the positioning statement, developing your key messages are more of an art than a science. There is no precise formula that can be used to clearly develop these messages. You should take the key points from the positioning statement and provide supporting evidence for those points. From there, those secondary differentiators and other messages you collected during the positioning process can be explored and expanded.

Keep in mind the following points:

  • Be honest and credible in your messages. Tell people who you really are and what you really do. Be clear and concise with the offer. Make it easy for the reader of your message to know what you are promoting.
  • Test your message. Try your message out and measure the results you are getting to ensure the message is clear.
  • Know your audience. Send your message to the right audience to ensure the best use of your marketing resources.

The following is an example of a message for a service with the associated benefits for your clients:

XYZ Company helps you develop and automate a sales process that takes a more focused and intelligent approach to selling. Sales people spend more quality time developing valuable long-term relationships with your customers, helping your customers achieve their business vision.

When you have developed a set of messages that speak to the needs of your target market, use them consistently and repetitively in all of your marketing efforts.

Getting Outside Help

Developing successful messages is the result of understanding your audience and what parts of your product or service are important to them. While creating them takes some time, going through the process forces you to focus your efforts and is a critical element of your marketing foundation. To do an effective job creating these critical messages, it is often helpful to get an unbiased point of view to help you through their development.

Like many of you, I have spent time developing and refining my positioning statement and key messages for Vista Consulting and have not been happy with the results. Why is it I can write my client’s messages so much more effectively than my own? The answer is because I am too close to my business, not seeing things the way others see them. With the help of my new colleague, Bob, who has a fresh perspective on Vista Consulting, we have developed a new, more focused positioning statement. Now my positioning statement reads:

For small businesses and independent professionals struggling to find time to develop your marketing strategy, Vista Consulting can help you get more out of your marketing efforts. Unlike trying to go it alone, our mentoring service guides you through the process of  developing a solid marketing foundation, identifying your target audience, creating key messages, and recommending a focused set of programs.

By creating a clear, defensible, differentiated positioning statement and supporting key messages, you ensure that consistent and credible information is delivered to your market.

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