Obviously Awesome (Literature Notes)

How to do positioning

  1. Make a short list of your best customers
  2. Form a positioning team Must be driven by the leader of the business and the leaders of each business function or it won’t be adopted
  3. Let go of baggage
    • Everyone must be on the same page about what positioning means, each component of positioning, and styles of positioning depending on the market
    • Get agreement that the product was created with a certain market and audience in mind but may no longer be best positioned that way
  4. List true competitive alternatives from the customers' point of view
    • What would your best customers replace you with if you didn’t exist?
    • Aim for 2-5 groups of alternatives
  5. Isolate unique attributes/features that make you different and better than alternatives
    • Focus on provable facts rather than unqualified values like “outstanding customer service” or “ease of use”
    • Concentrate on attributes that customers care about when evaluating whether or not to make a purchase.
  6. From attributes, create value themes
    • Feature -> Benefit -> Value
      • Feature: something your product does or has
      • Benefit: what a feature enables a customer to do
      • Value: how the feature maps to the customers' goal
    • Group into themes from the perspective of a customer
  7. Determine who cares a lot
    • Segment the features and values by best-fit customers by asking who cares and why?
    • A segment needs to be big enough to meet business goals and has important, specific, unmet needs that are common to the segment
  8. Find a market frame of reference that puts your strengths at the center and determine how to position in it
    • A market needs to be something that already exists in the minds of customers and highlights your strengths
    • Abductive: choose a market category by isolating key features/values and asking, “What types of products typically have those features?” and “What category of products typically deliver that value?”
    • Adjacent and growing: look at a market adjacent to where you have been positioning yourself—ones where there are already blurry lines and feature overlap
    • Ask customers: be careful with this, they may have already tried to make sense of you and failed, they will only try to position you in markets linked to their industry and job function
    • Positioning styles
      • Head to head: aim to be the leader in a category that already exists. If there is a leader, beat the leader and convince customers your solution is best. Even better if there is no leader.
        • You don’t have to teach buyers and can rely on what they already know
        • You need to fit within their existing definition if you want to win
      • Big fish, small pond: Win a well-defined segment of the market, serving an underserved segment of the market whose requirements are not met by the current market leader, then expand until you can compete with the established leader
        • It’s much easier to gain traction, be more targeted, and be accretive (each subsequent customer is directly applicable to the next, word of mouth)
        • Subsegment needs to be easily identifiable, it should be easy to make a list of prospective buyers
        • It has to be possible to demonstrate that there is a very specific and important unmet need
        • You can fully solve their specific pain better than the leader
      • Create a new game: create a new market category—prove the new category deserves to exist, define the parameters of the market in customers' minds, position yourself as the leader in it
        • Should only be used when you have evaluated every possible existing market category and conclude you can’t position there
        • Can only work if you are large and powerful enough to get the attention of customers, media, and analysts to make the case for why a new market category deserves to exist
        • New markets emerge from change—new technology, economic changes, politics, preferences, or a combination of those
        • Your product must be inarguably new and different from what exists
        • It often takes a long time to do well, but if successful it can be huge
  9. Layer on a trend (maybe)
    • If the trend doesn’t reinforce your positioning, it can muddy the waters (cool but confusing, lies, good but boring)
    • The trend needs to clearly connect to your product
  10. Capture your positioning and share it across the organization
    • Write a document with enough detail that it can be used by marketing, sales, and product (1-pager, positioning canvas)

    • Positioning Canvas

  11. Create a sales story
    • Define the problem your solution was designed to solve
    • Describe how customers are attempting to solve the problem today and where current solutions fall short
    • In a perfect world, the features of a perfect solution would look like…
    • Introduce the product and position it in the market
    • Talk about each value theme in more depth about how the solution enables value
    • Wrap up by addressing common objections, case study, current customers and next steps
  12. Make a messaging document Write out the messaging that every new campaign or material should be reviewed against
  13. Product roadmap and pricing Adjust the product feature set to align with the market category and get your pricing inline with market how the market expects it to be priced
  14. Check in on positioning every six months or after a major event that could change the competitive landscape (e.g. a new large competitor, regulatory change, attitudes, technology)
  • Context Ascribes Value

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  • It’s Hard to Sell If You Have to Convince People There Is a Problem

    Selling something is already difficult enough but when you have to sell the problem first, it’s even hRder. That’s because convincing someone about a problem they didn’t know they have is like trying to push the bolder uphill. Sure it’s possible, it just takes a lot more effort.

  • How to Set up an Inbound Sales Motion

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