The Value of a (Good) Positioning Statement

This morning I had coffee with a person who provides counseling to clients and is looking for ways to increase his business and expand his client base. So I asked him, as I do with most people, who is his target audience. His response? “Everybody.” So I asked does he see more men or woman. “Fifty fifty,” he replies. Lastly, I asked what is the average age of his clients. “Thirty five,” he says. Bingo. Many of his clients are millennials. So the next question is how to reach that segment of the population.

That will take some research. That will take creating a blog or some aspect of social media. That takes time and energy and a few dollars, but it’s more focused that throwing a wide net and coming up empty. So my suggestion was start searching online for how millennials deal with their emotions. It’s a start.

Continuing on with the discussion on how to position oneself or one’s business within a market, having identified that market (which we suggest in the August 7 post was millennials) you then have to decide what are the top three features and benefits you bring to that market. Then, and only then as Seth Godin suggests, do you start developing a marketing approach to reach that market, everything from how it works  to its competitive advantage. Because, quite frankly, everything is marketing.

For example, the company that made an oil burner sold through distributors. The price was right and the features were right. But when a technician got to the job site, the installation instructions were impossible follow. They returned the unit and bought a competitor’s model. Everything is marketing!


Another consideration when preparing to reach out to your target market or audience is the tone of the materials you develop. I once wrote the copy for a sell sheet on industrial saw blades and I opened it with an analogy to a pizza shop. It was light with  tongue in check,  and the client loved it!

On the other end of the spectrum the script for the oil burner I mentioned in an earlier post was formal and conservative. There’s little room for levity when writing processes such as these.

But a video designed to convince retailers to act now and reserve a location in a proposed shopping mall in a very affluent area of the country does convey a sense of immediacy in an attempt to persuade them to act now.

And then there is the video that looks like a silent movie complete with a Chaplinesque lead I wrote for a local advertising association. It was made purely to entertain the attendees at an awards dinner, and the light, light tone worked!

Trust me on this. I’ve been there. On both sides. Creative people such as writers and artists and filmmakers need the three D’s: Direction, Details and Deadlines. You’re paying them money and you want a product that promotes you and your project in the best light. You know your business; they do not.

That’s why a well developed positioning statement (PS) becomes a checklist. When the writer sends you the content, you can check it against what you wrote on the PS. Same with the graphic artists. Does their work complement the content and help define your unique position in the market? And the deadline serves to make sure that the “team” is proceeding at the desired pace and the launch of the new campaign will occur as planned.

The checklist ensures you avoid the trap of “We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over.” Capisce?

Comments welcomed.



About Bob McCarthy

Originally from the Northeast, I now call Southwest Florida home. I have been a professional copywriter and editor since 1979, both freelance and in house. I have had article published in regional, national and international magazines. Plus, a video for which I wrote the script won an industry award as Best Training Video.
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