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Compelling Business Plans That Work

Product Positioning With Two, Million-Dollar Sentences

Remember starting the fire without kindling in my last article?  Well, this will help internal teams get to the heart of product positioning—with two million-dollar sentences.  I can’t tell you how valuable these have been to me – I use them virtually every time I talk with a customer just to get oriented about what they are doing and what I need to discover.

Good examples of positioning statements identify the target customers, their problem, your value proposition, and key competitors.  My all-time favorite format came from Geoffrey A. Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.

Product Position Statement

For [target end user]
Who wants/needs [compelling reason to buy]
The [product name] is a [product category]
That provides [key benefit].
Unlike [main competitor],
The [product name] [key differentiation]

Like most things that are powerfully simple – this is incredibly difficult to do well.  But dive-in now, get feedback, and revise liberally!  Here are some tips:

Target End User – be specific.  If you had a sales force to knock on their doors, how would you describe them so they could find them?

Compelling Reason to Buy –  would customer find the resources to buy even in a recession?  What is the compelling need, or story?

Key Benefit – just the main one. There is always a long list, but what is the main one?

Main competitor – again, just the main one.

Key differentiation – why will you win?  Note that price can be the key differentiation, but not the key benefit.

Finally, note that this is not hype.  It is grounded in reality.  It’s not an “image” or “posture”, but rather a position that is grounded in actual accomplishments and relationships.

Every product introduction will have its own product positioning statement.  This statement has value for management purposes.  It’s for internal use, to make sure we’re all talking off the same page.  It would get “doled up” for selling purposes.  It’s not your “elevator pitch”.

But it will help you sharpen your elevator pitch!  The simple truth is, if someone cannot repeat your message – they won’t.  So, ultimately this becomes useful in marketing communications, just not in this format.  Because until you have people talking about your product, you don’t have a market.