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Positioning & Differentiation

Determining your position is the first part of building your brand. It’s the “logical” part rather than "emotional" part of your brand. We would recommend knowing your position before any marketing. You may get away without the other 3 boxes above in your first few marketing tests (although having everything will help you sell a lot more product).

Setting the position or building a positioning statement for your startup is not the same thing as an elevator pitch. Definition of “position” for a startup: It’s what makes you different … why anyone should care … why you matter … and why people should take notice. Here’s the process for building your positioning statement:

1. Identify your direct competition.

2. Understand how each competitor is positioning their business today.

3. Document your own positioning as it exists. For a startup, this may entail some digging into the mindsets of anyone and everyone who has knowledge of your existence…your employees, your investors, your suppliers, your first customers. Be open-minded and be prepared for surprises…what you find people think of you now may give you great ideas to build on but may also not be exactly what you intended. Correcting that is part of what this exercise is all about, after all.

4. Compare your positioning to your competitors' to identify viable areas for differentiation.

5. Develop a distinctive, differentiating and value-based positioning concept

6. Create a positioning statement with key messages and customer value propositions to be used for communications development across the variety of target audience touch points you intend to use. Generally, this will include advertising, media, PR, website, social media, and sales collateral, each presenting its own challenges and opportunities for establishing your position.

Here’s an example of a positioning statement: (General Motors) is the (leading US automobile maker) that (provides affordable vehicles) to (American families.)

Many new startups say “I don’t have any competitors.” If you don’t have a competitor, find one! Don’t BS yourself and say, “well, we just don’t have a competitor. We REALLY DON'T!"

It’s simply not true. Let me explain. In my youth when I worked at TurboTax, I remember the brilliant Scott Cook and Bill Harris (Scott was the founder of Intuit, Bill was the president of TurboTax/Chipsoft at the time) lifting up a pencil and saying, “look at this pencil. This is our competitor; this is how people are doing their taxes right now and it’s filled with errors and frustration. This is what we are competing with.

The concept was brilliant. Every company has a competitor of some sort. Knowing who and what that competitor is can be critical to your success.

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