Why you need a positioning & messaging framework
Updated: Apr 14
“So, what does your company do?”
Simple question, right? Is your answer compelling or complex? Is it focused on your audience or your product?
If you look beneath the question, the person isn't asking what your company does. What they’re really asking is “What does your company do – that could potentially benefit me?”
You communicate your company and your product’s value proposition and key benefits through many different channels: Your website, sales collateral, social media, marketing programs, PR, and through your employees when they interact with customers and prospects.
If you haven’t invested the time to think through how you describe your company and your solutions from your target buyers’ perspective, you run the risk of:
Confusion in the market: People don’t really understand the value you deliver because your message is too feature-focused, company-focused, technically complex, overly clever, or fragmented.
Missed opportunities: Prospective customers and potential partners may not find you interesting enough to engage with, because your message isn’t engaging them.
Frustrated employees: Marketing and sales teams in particular will struggle to communicate real value in marketing programs and sales presentations. Worse, they may resort to making up their own value propositions to get the immediate job done, leading to even more fragmented messaging.
On the other hand, a well-crafted positioning and messaging framework will deliver these benefits:
Distinction in the market: When your message articulates the specific value you deliver to your customers, you clearly communicate your company and product positioning.
The right opportunities: Your solutions aren’t for everyone – and that’s a good thing. Your messaging should attract the best prospects for your business and enable the wrong prospects self-select out.
Streamlined communication: When you invest in a framework, anchored in market and customer insights, it’s easier to create quality content across all channels, build persuasive presentations, and sell your true value to prospects and partners.
The process of building a solid Positioning & Messaging Framework
How do you go about building a positioning and messaging framework? There are a number of steps, the most important of which is to validate your value proposition and messaging with actual customers and prospects.
Begin with your team members who interact with customers. Their feedback will help you sift through different perspectives and connect the common themes related to what customers gain from your solutions. This is just the start – there’s more to do.
Evaluate competitive alternatives. I’m not a fan of devoting too much focus on competitors, because it takes your attention away from customers, but you do need to understand what customers are doing today to solve their challenges and how competitors are positioning their company and products to solve those challenges.
Interview your ideal customers. What do they love about you? What outcomes have you helped them to achieve? How would they describe your products to others? Keep your questions open ended and don’t try to lead them in any way. This is the time to ask, then listen intently, and follow up with "why?"
Assess your current messaging. How does your current messaging align with how your customers describe you and your products? Is it distinguishable from your competitors in ways that are meaningful? Is it too complex, with technical jargon that only your team understands? Be brutal in your assessment and be willing to let go of what isn’t working.
Build a first draft positioning and messaging framework that includes:
The why: What you want to be known for, based on what your customers value most. Call this a positioning statement, an elevator pitch, a boilerplate. Bottom line, it’s succinct, distinctive, and compelling. It doesn’t confuse, it’s not technically complex, and it gets to the heart of what you deliver.
What pain points and challenges do you address? You may serve different industries or market segments, each with different challenges that your solutions address. Break down the pain points by customer or industry segment.
How do you uniquely solve those problems and just as importantly, how do you help customers achieve desired outcomes?
Test your messaging. Depending on your timeframe, budget and resources, there are a number of ways to test your messaging, including targeted surveys, follow up interviews with key customers and prospects, or pre-screened audience panels to name a few. The point is, validate your new messaging framework with the audiences you are targeting.
Gain the buy-in of everyone in your company. Once you’ve finalized your positioning and messaging framework, get everyone on your team excited. Provide them with examples of how they can articulate your message. Tell them how you will incorporate your new narrative across your marketing channels. Your employees are key to reinforcing your value proposition every day.
Revisit your framework on an ongoing basis. How often depends on your industry, market conditions, and competitive environment. If you plan on launching new products, entering new markets, or acquiring other businesses you’ll need to be sure your value proposition and messaging align. At minimum, re-evaluate your framework every six months.
Developing a strong positioning and messaging framework is a process that takes time, deep thought, and lots of feedback from the right audiences. But in the end, you’ll win with brand distinction, compelling content, and quality customers.
Do you need help developing a strong Positioning and Messaging Framework? Get in touch for a no-obligation 30 minute call to see if Insight Out Marketing is a good fit for you.