Great product positioning begins with the customer’s vision.
If you’re a car enthusiast, go read the marketing copy for your dream car. The product marketers do a masterful job of getting you to envision how awesome you’d look and feel behind the wheel of that car. Apply the same concept to your products and solutions and watch the uptick in your marketing and sales efforts.
Here’s one of the biggest problems in B2B, especially with technical products. Product knowledge is a big fat handicap when it comes to positioning value because it forces you to overthink everything. Your products and services do so many great things and you feel compelled to cram all ten pounds of greatness into a five-pound value story where the real message gets lost.
The easiest way out of this trap is to just be the customer. Think about it for a minute. There are only a handful of things that are important to your target customers in terms of how they define success. As product managers and product marketers, all you have to do is bring their vision of success to life with your positioning and you’ve got a winner.
Here are seven common obstacles and a few simple remedies that’ll help you create great product positioning.
1. “It’s Impossible to Differentiate Every Product.”
And the bigger your portfolio gets, the harder it is to do. Here’s the thing. Your buyers only care about eliminating obstacles that stand in the way of success. Whether it takes one product or five products to get the job done is immaterial. That’s the benefit of positioning solutions. Create your positioning around the customer’s business goals and obstacles and use products and features as proof points.
2. “We Need Headlines That Get People’s Attention.”
“Shock-vertising,” headlines and superlatives like seamless and transformational aren’t necessary to hook your buyers. They may even work against you. Sometimes, the best attention-grabbing headlines are simple statements that your buyers whole-heartedly agree with.
3. “Keeping Their Attention is Even More Challenging!”
Nothing holds people’s attention more than talking all about them. Short stories and scenarios that exude empathy and credibility are the perfect setup to showcase the unique value of your solutions.
Create a highlight reel that consists of 3-5 short stories or scenarios packaged under a common value theme and you’ll have no problem keeping their attention.
4. “It Would Be Great If Everyone Told Our Value Story the Same Way.”
The key to consistency is simplicity, and less is more. Create a simple story that’s all about how your target customers envision their own success. Use products and features as proof points. It’s an easy way for everyone to understand the value story, internalize it and repeat it in their own words.
5. “We Sound Just Like Everyone Else.”
When your positioning is built around problems, features and benefits, that’s the result! Here’s how to change it. Get to you know your target customers better than the competition and your voice of credibility will be the difference. Spend more effort uncovering business goals, priorities and obstacles that are driving your target customers a few layers higher in the organization (VP level). With that knowledge in hand, the words and the stories will just come to you.
6. “Can You Give Me an Overview of Product X?”
It’s a common request you get at trade shows, conferences and in every sales situation. Typical responses are chock full of features or fluffy value statement that elicit more questions than they answer.
Context rules! The easiest way to verbalize a product overview is with a few scenarios that are common to every prospective customer and critical to their success. Employ tactic #3 above.
7. “It Feels Like We’re Always a Step Behind the Competition”
If features are the way you measure your competitive strength, you’ll always be a step behind someone.
Here’s the reality for most products. In certain situations, your products are superior and in other scenarios the competition is superior. There will never be a time where either of you is better at everything in every situation.
Use situational positioning to highlight critical-success scenarios in which you’re superior. When you take this approach, you swap feature comparisons for results comparisons.