Friday, August 05, 2005

Positioning Statements

I ran across these tips by Zigzag Marketing: Using Buzz Words: You really shouldn't that made me say "Amen". I am never a big fan of buzz words, especially when my prospects and customers are mostly engineers. Yet, I always ran across product positioning statements that full of buzz words - highest performance, optimized to maximize, etc. You got the point. The last thing that these engineers need is for some marketing and sales guys come in and use "big" words that mean nothing.

In several occasions, I have sat through product presentations and after their opening positioning statements, I didn't know what they were talking about. I lost my interest after that. Other times, I would try to understand product offerings through company's website and after reading the home page, I still didn't know what they are trying to sell.

I believe in "just say what I mean" yet I encountered numerous people that love using buzz words because that makes them important. One of my old colleagues had a bad habit of using buzz words when talking with his clients. In more than one occasions, he'd give me a positioning statement that he was planning on presenting and I didn't know what he was saying after he was done. All I remember that every other words were buzz words - optimize, highest efficiency, productivity, blah, blah. I couldn't tell what his message was.

The article gave a classic statement: "Our tool set offers the most flexible and efficient way to optimize resources to maximize profits and minimize costs". What does that mean? It went on and gave an equivalent statement: "Our solution will increase your profitability by processing more transactions at the lowest possible cost."

My rule of thumb: can I back of what I say? In other words, can I back my positioning statement? By forcing myself to do that, I have found that my positioning statement becomes simpler and most often in plain English (being not a non-native English speaker does help). I am able to tell customers what my product is and how it helps my customers to solve their problems. I have a little process that I work through to create my product positioning statement:

  • Identify the situation
  • What are the target markets/applications?
  • What are the benefits and associated features
  • Who are my competitors and what are the products that I am competing against?
  • What are my product differentiators?

After complete those steps, product positioning can be as simple as putting all bullets together and massage into a sentence. That's all.

Until next time, I wish you "to maximize your productivity to minimize your company's inefficiency and optimize the return-on-investment for your stockholders"... Just kidding!!!