Your positioning statement creates the foundation for all your organization’s communications across all media. It provides focus and direction and ensures that content is consistent. Without a positioning statement, PR can resemble a person groping aimlessly in the dark.
A positioning statement defines how you wish to be perceived. Don’t confuse it with a position analysis, a realistic examination how the company is perceived.
A positioning statement also differs from a mission statement. The mission, sometimes called a vision statement, identifies the brand’s objectives. A positioning statement is much broader.
“Unlike a mission statement or vision statement, a positioning statement is not a public-facing tagline,” explains content marketer Meredith Hart. “At its core, it’s broader than that, summarizing the value proposition, mission, and other positioning factors in a clear and concise way.”
An ideal positioning statement is concise, unique and memorable. Development of a positioning statement requires careful consideration of your company’s goals, strengths and weaknesses, competitors, and your target audience.
The positioning statement should explain:
∙ Who you are
∙ The business you’re in
∙ Who your product is for (your target audience)
∙ What your audience needs
∙ Your competition’s products and positioning
∙ What differentiates your business
∙ The unique benefit your product provides.
Steps to Positioning
Following these steps will help you create a worthwhile positioning statement to guide all facets of your organization’s PR communications.
∙ Obtain the company’s business and marketing plans, customer or prospect survey questionnaires, analysis of competitors – the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, if it exists, can be very helpful.
∙ Convince management to participate in creating the statement. Tout the benefits. It will save time and money in developing communications tactics and lead to more effective public relations.
∙ Gather recommendations in the first meeting, then consolidate them and draft one or two statements. Submit them to management before the second meeting.
∙ Build consensus
∙ In the second meeting, focus on refinement and agreement.
Differentiation is imperative – and differentiating on price typically fails.
It’s all about perception. Nyquil positioned itself as the “night time cold medicine” and seized significant market share from the cold medicine leader. Nyquil wasn’t actually different; customers perceived it differently.
Companies frequently wish to position themselves as a leader in their sector. That’s difficult since every company claims to be a leader. If everyone is a leader, then attaining that goal offers no differentiation.
Rather than being a leader like everyone else, consider these PR positioning strategies:
A niche solution. Fulfill a need in a niche. The key is to prove that the niche is worth attention because it has broader implication.
David against Goliath. Cast your company as the little guy with ingenuity, as brains battling brawn. Everyone roots for the underdog.
A dark horse. The dark horse comes out of nowhere to win a race. Dark horse positioning works well for organizations that are doing something that has yet to earn attention. Think of Volkswagen’s “think small” campaign in an era of big cars.
An unlikely success. A come from behind win, an idea that has been vetted and discounted but is now proving the pundits wrong.
A personal passion. Ideal for a charismatic business leader, this position humanizes a brand.
Each organization’s positioning statement must be uniquely its own. It takes effort to craft an effective positioning – but that touchstone will make it easier to develop on-target PR strategies and to craft more effective communications.
Bottom Line: A positioning statement forms the foundation of an effective communications plan. It provides direction and focus. You can follow these steps to craft a winning positioning statement.
This article was first published on March 2, 2015, and updated on December 18, 2020.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.