At SmallFuel, a large part of my job is to help small businesses research and decide on a market position. Even though you may not have the money for professional help, having a concrete market positioning statement is still one of the best things you can do for your company.
- Have you ever been asked to make a quick introduction for yourself or your company?
- How about: why should I choose to go with your company over the next one?
- Have you found yourself stuck in the middle of writing an advertisement or article, not sure how to phrase something?
These are some of the problems that will go away when you create a solid market position for your company. By writing a simple positioning statement, you create a reference point for all of your marketing, advertising, writing, and design. Whenever you have to choose your next action, or the next line of a conversation, it helps greatly to have something concrete and consistent to refer to. Also, It will give your employees something to rally around.
There are four main parts to an internal positioning statement.
- Your Target This is a concise and specific description of the person you are aiming your product at. As an example, our target is: “Small business owners who want to grow their business or need help marketing.” Make sure you keep this accurate and descriptive, and please don’t try to fit more than one target into the sentence. (it’s for your own good!)
- Frame of Reference Your frame of reference helps to anchor your business to a well known market position, so that people have an easy place to start when learning about you. Our frame of reference is “marketing firm.” Even though we view ourselves as being very different from most marketing firms, a marketing firm is the closest thing to what we are. Once we tell people that, we can more easily explain how we are different.
- Point of Difference This is the part that you have probably heard repeatedly. Why are you different from other companies in your frame of reference? Our example is “We specifically make our products for small businesses. They are easier to understand and follow, provide more value, and will better meet the needs of a small business.” You should try to make your difference as concrete as possible, and again be specific with how you phrase things. Read this article for more about creating a unique position.
- Reasons to Believe You’ve explained how your business is different, now prove it. It’s not enough to say that your company is better for your target because of X Y Z, you must show reasons why. The SmallFuel example for this one is: “Because we are a small business, and we only work with small businesses, we uniquely understand their needs and requirements. We guarantee our products are the best way to grow a small business; if you aren’t happy with the results, we’ll give your money back.” The more believable your reasons are, the better.
Now, you have to put the four parts of the statement together into one paragraph. Even though these statements are made for internal use, they are generally written in a letter-like format. The format helps to remind readers that the person who really matters most is the customer.
As I mentioned before, this market positioning statement is designed to be used internally—so keep everything accurate. You don’t have to worry about exposing any trade secrets, because your company will be the only one reading it. Speaking of your company reading it; I recommend having someone else read through and tell you what they think. Proofreading always has good results.
Here’s our completed example so you can see how it should look:
“To the small business owner who wants to grow their business. SmallFuel is a marketing firm that provides products and services specifically designed to grow small businesses. Our marketing is easier to understand, and provides more growth and value than marketing from other firms. Since we are a small business, and we work only with small businesses, we uniquely understand your needs and requirements. We guarantee that our products are the best way to grow your small business; if you aren’t happy with the results, we’ll give your money back.”
Our positioning statement has been extremely useful at SmallFuel. I use it so often that I have the entire thing memorized—and now, when someone asks me a question about my company, they are rewarded with a well thought out and consistent response.
That brings me to the companion of the internal statement: the 30 second elevator speech. The elevator speech is designed to be used externally in conversation. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss our article about that.
Have any of you written or used an internal positioning statement in your business? What have the results been? Please leave some comments, I’d love to hear some stories.