By Chuck Sink
Guest author Stacie Andrews gets the credit for this brilliant question: “What can you give your audience that is relevant to them and still relevant to what you stand for?”
That, my friends, is exactly what I focus my business practice on and it requires honest self evaluation from leadership. At an agency I previously worked for, principal Haden Edwards called it “matching promises with priorities.” That is, how your company – as guaranteed in your brand promise – helps meet the priorities (wants) of your target market.
It’s a remarkably simple strategy that too few businesses execute well. Steve Jobs seemed to understand his consumers’ priorities instinctively which is why he went against rigid conventional corporate thinking. He got fired from the company he founded, was pulled back in, allowed to keep innovating, and built arguably the most successful company in the world.
Jobs knew that his customers wanted dazzling tech products that operated the way humans like to live and work – by intuition. He ardently stuck to proprietary platforms for Apple and his detractors despised those tactics if not the man himself. Jobs persevered in wowing customers and Apple products deliver on the company’s promise to meet the priorities of the computing and device-wielding public. Apple’s products perform as expected and give authenticity to their brand identity.
So how do you go about making your brand’s real value relevant to what your target customers really want from a business like yours? The answer is in your positioning. How do you position your brand for success?
Writing your positioning statement will bring you more long term success than just about any other strategic exercise you can do in business.
A positioning statement is your unique promise to customers that differentiates your business from the competition with honesty, relevance and value. It should be one or two sentences and crystal clear. You should articulate it in numerous ways that are natural in both writing and conversation, keeping it real for people.
How to write your positioning statement:
Dr. David Shore of Harvard University developed a positioning methodology many years ago that my previous employer, Tracey/Edwards, taught me.
- Clearly and narrowly define your target audience.
- Define your general business category (manufacturer, retailer, law firm, college, home builder, consultancy, engineering firm, etc.).
- Determine their priorities with your own research. (Suggestion: spend some hours with clients who use your product/service and really understand how they get value from it – or not.)
- Determine your statement of need fulfillment – what of value will you deliver?
- Provide the reason to believe with relevant support.
I’ll use my own positioning statement, based on this model, as an example. It covers all of the above in one concise statement which my company strives to live up to every day.
(1) To Business Owners, Organization Leaders and Marketing Directors:
Chuck Sink Link is the (2) communication firm that (3, 4)) creates ideal messages for your target audience because (5) we reveal the authentic value of your brand and convey it with relevance and clarity.
Notice how all 5 listed elements are contained in one brief statement? All of my marketing messages stem from this positioning statement and they’re working. Every week, people I’ve never met introduce themselves and already know who I am and what I do. I have successfully built a strategic brand and now my leads are inbound and the referrals are warm.
If you still struggle with working the numbers cold calling or trying to blitz your prospects because things are slow, I would suggest you take time now to strategically position your brand for success. Highly profitable inbound business will come your way if you communicate the same message with consistency and deliver what you promise.
Your brand positioning is the nexus where your stated brand value meets the needs and desires of your audience. It’s the fulcrum point where your marketing messages gain the leverage of consistency for broader reach. When you consistently reinforce your company’s positioning, you become well known in the market – “for the reasons you want to be known!”
We’re redesigning our website now to better reflect the company’s evolved brand value. I made this decision in part to practice what I preach and more importantly to fulfill my own brand promise to my own business.
It’s vitally important to work ON your business as you must also work IN it. This carpenter’s online house will soon be rebuilt, true to it’s brand positioning. So please stay tuned in the coming weeks for the unveiling of our new site!