Back in 2002, I wrote a book called Power Positioning. It was an expanded version based on my booklet, The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning, which I wrote back in 1992.
In it, I defined Power Positioning as a skillful blend of “the art of positioning” and “the science of direct response” because it has two goals:
- Attracting an abundant quantity of high-quality prospects, and
- Effectively converting those prospects into profitable relationships.
It stems from my artistic and analytical sides; those dueling parts of my brain that love the creative aspect of marketing as well as the logical one.
According to Trout and Ries who wrote the book on the subject, positioning (specifically, brand positioning) is to occupy a position in the market’s mind above the competition.
But positioning is not a single marketing strategy.
It’s doesn’t stop at differentiating yourself or branding, either. It involves every aspect of your operations. Every process, every touchpoint, every message, and every person involved in your business are contributing to your positioning.
Once you have attained that position, however, you must keep it, amplify it, and exploit it, or better said, empower it (hence, the “power” qualifier).
To illustrate this point, I outlined four pillars.
First, the goal is to increase perceived value. The most common way is by narrowing your focus — whether it’s focusing on who you serve (vertical specialization) or on what you do (horizontal specialization). Or both.
Another way is to define if not manufacture your most marketable, competitive edge, and then transform that edge into a compelling, memorable, and impactful message.
Then, you need to communicate that message, which can be done through branding, packaging (as in both the packaging people see, and the way services are packaged or productized), content marketing, copywriting, etc.
Next, the goal is to find and target ideal clients that fit within your area of focus — people who are genuinely interested in and qualified for what you do or sell — takes more than just promotion.
You need to define a profile of your perfect client, i.e., a buyer persona, so you can precisely pinpoint where good, qualified prospects happen to be. Better to go after big fish in small ponds that chasing minnows in the ocean.
Targeting also includes crafting marketing messages, from your blog content to your ad copy, that directly speak to that perfect client.
Then, the goal is to be prolific. Once you’ve defined your focus and your target, this step will become relatively easy. You will likely attract opportunities to spread your message. Almost effortlessly.
You want your message to spread by allowing others to market for you. To help them, you must create assets that others can use, such as publishing (writing a book, for example), public speaking, podcasting or guest-podcasting, etc.
To propagate your leverageable assets, you can also create tools and systems to fuel their propagation, such as creating strategic marketing alliances, doing cross-promotions, offering your own affiliate program, etc.
Finally, once you’ve positioned yourself well and attracted your ideal clients, you need to sell. But most professionals look at selling as transactional when it’s neither a single event nor the result of one.
Every aspect of your operations is (or has the ability to become) a form of direct marketing. You’re not asking for the sale at each step, but you’re asking for something. Let’s call them “micro-commitments.”
From building credibility to building relationships (and everything in between), selling takes place over time and through various steps that go beyond the transaction. Engaging your audience, asking for feedback, or simply asking for referrals. It’s all selling.
A final point.
Many professionals have told me they’ve positioned themselves (either by specializing or highlighting something that distinguishes them), but they can’t seem to get any traction.
A plane requires full throttle before it takes off. It needs full power, extra fuel, and ample acceleration to get enough lift for the initial climb. But once it reaches cruising altitude, the throttle can be eased off and the power cut back to half.
When positioning yourself, you will gain traction over time. But the initial momentum needs help. It needs leverage. It needs fuel. It needs power.
Narrow your focus to position yourself, be clear on who you want to target, multiply your marketing to expand your reach, and direct your audience along the way. And soon you’ll be cruising.