In all the preceding lectures and worksheets, you’ve been learning about the building blocks of your personal brand. In this section, we roll everything up into an over-arching concept called the Positioning Statement. The positioning statement is important because it is the concise expression of everything that’s come before it. This little phrase is going to be your north star, your footpath, your guard rails on the highway in the sense that you’ll use it as the guide to your customer communications. As long as you your message stays close to your positioning statement, you’ll know you are communicating strategically; telling your customers how you create value for them and why they should choose you and not someone else.
What is a Brand Positioning Statement?
A positioning statement is a sentence or even a paragraph that is used to create an image in the mind of your customers. It is how you want them to visualize you, your product or your service compared to how they perceive your competitors. It communicates some very important messages including:
- Explains clearly who you are or what you do…better than your competitors,
- Promises some specific functional, emotional or financial value that is compelling to your target customers,
- Clearly differentiates you from your competitors,
- Makes you memorable and,
- Forges an emotional connection with the people you want do business with
Ultimately, your customers will decide what your brand means to them but you have an opportunity to influence that perception by deciding which messages you have the best chance to convince people is true and important enough for them to change who they’re doing business with…. In your favor!
What your Brand Positioning Statement Does for You
Defines your target customers. These are the kinds of customers that need what you have to offer and will value it the way you need them to so that your business is successful. These are the customers you need to identify and pursue because this is the path that leads to more business. As they say, don’t ‘bark up the wrong tree’!
Identifies what your core customer group needs and wants related to your business. This is where all the work you’ve put into identifying your vision, mission, values, personality and promise becomes important. When you see the places where what your customers need and want and what you uniquely have to offer, you have discovered your core message. These areas where who you are and what you do intersect with your customers’ needs and wants are your unique selling proposition, or USP. Try and boil your USP down to a single point if possible.
Supports any claims you're making. Everybody needs proof of the claims they hear before they believe statements that are almost ‘too good to be true’. It’s the ‘doubting Thomas’ in us. Prepare several ‘reasons to believe’ to support your claim. PAR statements are an excellent method of supporting our USPs. P (Problem) A (Action) R (Result) statements are short stories that describe experiences we’ve had when we faced challenges, the actions we took toward correcting the situation and an ending description of the positive result(s) that occurred because of the work you did.
Working on Your Brand Positioning Statement
Be sure to include a group of close (and brutally honest!) friends and colleagues as you develop your positioning statement. If the statement is going to be effective in how you pitch your customers, it has to hold up. The following questions are the ‘acid test’ you need to pass before you call this exercise a success:
- Is the statement clear?
- Does it focus on and motivate the core target audience?
- Does it provide a distinctive and meaningful picture of your product, service, or brand?
- Does it differentiate your brand from the competition?
- Is it credible?
- Does it allow for future growth?
Here are a few examples of personal brand positioning statements taken from the resumes of several clients I’ve worked with recently.
Business transformation catalyst, driving cutting edge technology solutions in business process, manufacturing, and IT roles to deliver IT and operational efficiencies that generated multimillion dollar cost savings and profit growth.
This branding statement consists of the brand attributes or strengths, i.e., "transformation catalyst" with experience in business process, manufacturing, and IT roles. It also states how those core competencies and talents have delivered results, i.e., "cutting-edge technology solutions" that delivered operational efficiencies resulting in multimillion dollar savings and profit growth.
Here's another example of a good brand positioning statement:
Creative problem-solver who produces superior results through solid marketing and leadership abilities. While at XYZ Company, I led the team that took the number three brand in the industry and completed a turnaround strategy that resulted in it becoming the market leader.
Make it Simple and Clear
I’ve heard people stumble through their positioning statements in networking meetings only to create a room full of quizzical expressions on their listeners’ faces. A ‘plug and play CMO leading a virtual group of marketing experts in development of websites, graphic design solutions and cutting edge videos’ is much better described as ‘I help my customers sell more of their goods or services’. Simple. Clear. Even better, it creates a space where people can then ask ‘how do you do that?’ which is exactly what you want! You don’t have minutes to make a strong first impression; you have literally seconds. I once heard it put like this: "Be brief. Be brilliant. Be gone."