Does your “position” pass the evelvator test?

Positioning seems to be one of most elusive ‘components’ in business. The idea seems basic enough -creating a “position” in a prospective customer’s mind – yet there’s plenty of ideas as to how to go about it. While Jack Trout and Al Ries bible on positioning is one that I usually turn to, I found that Crossing the Chasm, the classic book on marketing in the IT sector, has some straightforward advice. The author considers it a communications process made up of four key components:

  1. The claim – the key here is to reduce the fundamental position statement – a claim of undisputed market leadership within a given target market segment.
  2. The evidence – the claim to undisputed leadership is meaningless if it can, in fact, be disputed. The key here is to develop sufficient evidence as to make any such disputation unreasonable.
  3. Communications – armed with claim and evidence, the goal here is to identify and address the right audiences in the right sequence with the right versions of the message.
  4. Feedback and adjustment – Just as football coaches have to make half-time adjustments to their game plans, so do marketers, once the positioning has been exposed to the competition. Competitors can be expected to poke holes in the initial effort, and these need to be patched up or otherwise responded to.

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Moore also provides a simple formula to help create a two-sentence positioning claim that should past the elevator test. If you think your product, service or idea is ready for the market, just replace the italics:

  • For… (target customers – direct segment only)
  • Who are dissatisfied with… (the current market alternative)
  • Our product is… (a new product category)
  • That provides… (key problem-solving capability)
  • Unlike… (the product alternative)
  • We have assembled… (key who product features for your specific application)

Example: For the bill-paying member of the family who also uses a home PC who is tired of filling out the same old checks month after month. Quicken is a PC home finance program that automatically creates and tracks all your check-writing. Unlike Managing Your Money, a financial analysis package, our system is optimized specifically for home bill-paying.

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