This t-shirt cost $395.
Yes, three hundred and ninety-five dollars for a plain white tee!
Compare the Saint Laurent t-shirt above to a $16.99 one from Hanes.
The Saint Laurent shirt is 25 times more expensive than the one from Hanes.
Does that mean it’s 25 times better? Not necessarily.
So how’s it possible to charge over $300 more for what is ultimately the same easy-to-stain-with-spaghetti-sauce shirt?
The difference can be explained through one of the most underleveraged marketing tools: positioning statements. A positioning statement is a simple-but-refined piece of text that articulates exactly why someone might spend their money on what you have to offer instead of on your competitor’s product (even if they might seem identical).
I should point out that just because Saint Laurent shirt is 25 times more expensive doesn’t mean they’ve built a better business than Hanes. They’ve just deliberately positioned themselves to attract a different type of customer—one who prioritizes luxury and status over convenience. Actually, Hanes is the bigger company.
The point is both companies succeed because they know who their products are for and what problems they solve for their customers. And if you want your products to succeed, you need to make sure you do the same.
In this post, we’ll show you exactly how to create a positioning statement for your products and services so you can stand out in the marketplace and get the sales you deserve. Even more, we’ll give you a glimpse at how positioning your product correctly can help you attract your dream customers to your business in droves.
What is a Positioning Statement? And Why Do You Need One?
In layman’s terms, a positioning statement is a single sentence or phrase that clearly explains why your customers would choose your products or services over any alternatives.
It’s similar to your unique selling proposition (USP), and while serving as an internal document, your positioning statement strongly influences external communications, especially your slogan or tagline.
It’s a secret weapon that most people don’t put a lot of thought into. While these might seem like tiny, throwaway phrases, the truth is they come to define who you serve and what problems only YOU can solve.
For example, take a look at an early way that Domino’s Pizza positioned its business: “Delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free.”
This single phrase communicates a lot to potential customers. It also guides the business in its decision making around store design and ingredients. For example, consumers know that if they want a pizza fast, choose Domino’s. Remember, 30 minutes or it’s free.
As a business, it forces them to make choices that prioritize delivery speed over everything else. So Domino’s might not care as much about using fresh ingredients or how their stores look. They’ll put more emphasis on prepackaged ingredients and stores designed for speedy deliveries (not aesthetics). And this is exactly what you saw with Domino’s for years (before their rebrand).
On the other hand, DiGiorno Pizza relies on a completely different value proposition. They put “It’s not delivery. It’s DiGiorno” everywhere in their marketing.
This tells consumers that if they want a frozen pizza that tastes as good as delivery, choose DiGiorno. Notice DiGiorno was appealing to a totally different segment of the pizza market. Instead of focusing on the speed of delivery, they’re focused on the quality and taste.
Ultimately, Domino’s and DiGiorno have the same product (pizza), but who buys each one and how each business presents their solution couldn’t be more different.
That’s a critical element. A good positioning statement needs to clearly say:
- Who the product/service is for
- What problem it solves
- And how it’s different than its competition
These things can be implied or you can explicitly state them.
If you’re reading this and think you need to be some kind of advertising genius to come up with catchy, memorable, customer-grabbing phrases like this, don’t worry.
Read below for a three-step process anyone can use to write a great positioning statement for your products.
3 Steps to Writing a Great Positioning Statement That Sells
Step 1: Articulate How Your Business Is Different From Your Competition
In this step, start by making an exhaustive list of all the ways that you are different than your competition. Don’t be afraid to lay it all out on the line, vent, and really rip into your competition.
If your product formulation is 10 times better than your competitor’s, write down why that’s important to your customers.
If you have a guarantee that eliminates all the risk for your customers and your competition is afraid to make an offer like that, talk about why you go above and beyond to make such a guarantee.
If you have a wealth of experience that none of your competitors can bring to the table, list out all the reasons your customers should care about that.
The whole point of this first step is to get down on paper all the ways that you are different and (preferably) better than your competition.
If you’ve never thought about these things before, it’s okay to spend some time digging in and doing some research on your competition. But if you’ve known these things for a while and just haven’t captured them all in one place, don’t worry about making your list too long.
Just go to town, and once you’ve got an exhaustive list, then you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Condense
Once you have a big list of all the reasons someone should choose you over your competition, it’s time to cut your positioning statement down to something simple and concise. Ideally this will be just one sentence, but two or three at most.
For this exercise, I like to imagine I can only say one thing to my dream customer. My goal is to stop them in their tracks and get them interested in what I have to say.
With that constraint in mind, think about what differentiating features you’d say to make them deeply interested? What is the most immediately irresistible thing you could promise to your dream customer?
For example, if you offer advertising services to clients, your experience managing big budgets and getting clients incredible results might be the most important things to mention.
So you might say something like, “For businesses looking for skilled advertisers, we have a team of advertising veterans who’ve managed over $10 million in ad budget—and never lost a penny on behalf of our clients. And unlike other agencies, we guarantee profitability or you never pay us a dime.”
It’s all about plucking the most compelling parts of the differentiators you identified in step one and capturing them in a single phrase or sentence.
Once you’ve narrowed your promise down, move on to step 3.
Step 3: Make Your Dream Client Say, ‘I want that!’
A huge part of positioning your product is getting insanely clear on who you serve. When your dream clients see your positioning statement, they should immediately say, “I want that!”
If we continue with the example of offering advertising services, we don’t just want to talk about ALL advertising in general. We want to talk about what clients we specifically can help.
For example, your advertising specialty might be helping health supplement companies advertise on Facebook without getting their account banned. Of course, running profitable advertising campaigns is important to supplement companies. But, in most cases, keeping advertising accounts online is even more important. Because it only takes one slap from a regulator to be out of business for good.
Knowing that, you might refine your positioning statement to say, “For supplement businesses looking for experienced advertisers, we have a team of advertising veterans who’ve managed over $10 million in ad budget—and never lost a penny on behalf of our clients. And unlike other agencies who put your business in jeopardy with risky ads, we guarantee compliance and profitability or it’s free.”
To the right company, this immediately communicates that their advertising would be in good hands.
Of course, what you say will depend on who you want to serve and the outcome you want to promise your customers. And it might take a few rounds before you get it right.
Great Positioning Statements in Action
The best way to learn how to write a great positioning statement is to see a few examples of good positioning statements in action. The following examples have been responsible for millions of dollars in sales. Without knowing their exact internal positioning statements, we can definitely see from their branding how strong each company’s positioning is.
Example 1: Hemple’s CBD Oil
One of my past clients Hemple is an Australian-based supplement company that sells a variety of hemp-based products, including CBD oil and hemp seed protein powder.
Because of recent changes in laws surrounding how and where these products can be sold, a lot of CBD companies have rushed products to market, hoping to gobble up a share of the “green gold rush.”
And in the process, many companies have cut corners around quality.
Hemple knows this and wants customers to know their different. So notice how they position themselves on their website: “Organically grown, CO2 extracted, broad-spectrum cannabinoids.”
For health conscious consumers in the know about the benefits of CBD oil, every word in that phrase communicates extreme value.
For example, it’s vital that the hemp is organically grown so there aren’t any unwanted pesticides in the oil. It’s also important that the oil is full-spectrum, because studies have shown that isolated CBD extracts have limited benefits. Another key is that the hemp oil is extracted with CO2 and not other harsh chemicals like butane or hexane.
Not every person who buys CBD oil will know these facts. But for the people who care about using a quality CBD oil, Hemple conveys all those facts about their brand in one tiny phrase.
The key to pulling this off for your business is knowing which features are most important to your target customers and putting them front and center.
Example 2: Foundr’s Instagram Domination Course
Another great example of compelling positioning is for Foundr’s own Instagram Domination Course.
As you’re probably aware, many brands have courses on building a profitable business with Instagram. But the problem with many of these competing products is that it’s hard to know who you can trust.
With that in mind, the way to position Foundr’s course becomes quite obvious. The product’s positioning needs to communicate the fact that Foundr’s team knows their stuff when it comes to Instagram. This isn’t a fluff course. It’s proven system.
And you can see that in the tagline for the course:
“Learn the exact system we used to grow our Instagram to one million followers, and the same training used by our students to get followers and make money.”
Foundr is able to leverage the fact that this system helped them get to 1 million followers and helped their students achieve real success.
How many other courses can say that? Not many. And that differentiation is key when people are deciding who to learn Instagram growth strategies. That’s one of the reasons Foundr became a 7-figure business so quickly.
Example 3: Mint
A final example comes from Mint.com.
Mint is a free budget tracker that helps you understand your spending habits. When most people think about managing their finances, they think about complicated spreadsheets and having to manually sort through all their accounts.
It’s overwhelming and discouraging and Mint knows that. So they position their application as an all-in-one solution for effortlessly managing your finances.
The value proposition is clear. But even more, it’s a guiding philosophy of the application and business. If you use Mint, you’ll see they make the interface easy to use and even easier to understand. They want to put you in control of your finances so you’re in control of your life. And that’s communicated from the moment you visit their site and lived out in the way they build their business and app.
That may explain how they grew to 1.5 Million users and sold for over $170 Million in just two years.
Get Your Brand Positioning Right, First!
Positioning your products is a powerful marketing tool. In fact, as you’ve seen, a correctly positioned product helps guide almost every decision you make in a business once you figure out how you uniquely solve problems for customers.
I’m not saying other marketing strategies aren’t important, but I highly recommend you put real thought and effort into the positioning of your business and brand.
For the businesses that get this right, customers instantly know this is who they must trust and buy from.
The same can be true for you. Now go get ‘em!
Leave a comment to let me know which brands you think are doing this well? I’d love to see what examples you come up with!