In the past weeks, I have done quite a bit of work assessing +20 software vendors on their messaging and numerous sales pitches. One conclusion became clear (though I knew this already): Clarity wins hands down.
Why do we complicate things so much? Why do we talk ‘around’ the issues so often? There’s so much noise. And it appears we don’t even realize it – software companies of all sizes and maturity, from bootstrapped startups to big-brand-multi-nationals – we all seem to step into the same trap. So, it hasn’t got to do with money or access to talent.
So what is it? One thing I see is there often seem to be too many captains on the ship. Everyone wants all product benefits to be covered or mentioned in one way or the other, a typical inside-out approach that has no value to the customer, it’s all internal pride and competition.
Another thing I see is the hesitation or anxiety that we’re positioning ‘too narrow.’ We’re afraid to lose out on an opportunity, and as such, we expand our market segmentation and generalize and tone things down. The result: We sound like all our competitors and resonate with none of our ideal customers.
‘Yess!’ vs. ‘Huh?..’
Just think about yourself. When was the last moment you bought something instantly and what drove it? It’s very likely because the promise was surprisingly compelling and relevant that doing nothing was not an option for you. You had to act.
How often have you explained what you do and see buyers glaze over or respond ‘Huh..what…?’. It’s far more effective if the first reaction is a straight ‘Yess!’?
That’s the power of positioning. And the more specific and clear you get, the bigger the rewards.
It’s the clarity in your positioning that does the magic.
The moment we get our prospects to say ‘That’s (for) me!’ we make a connection that often drives action. That’s what we want. And even if people say ‘Not for me,’ that’s good. How many people do you have in your pipeline that haven’t come to that conclusion yet? That’s what I mean – that’s an incredible waste of time, energy, and money.
And that brings me to the bigger revelation: Clear positioning makes everything easier.
Once you have a crystal clear positioning statement, it will not only be far easier to attract your ideal customer target within your category; it will also be less costly. Here’s why: Your ideal customers will find you. What you communicate resonates, it’s valuable to them, it’s urgent, i.e., a priority on their agenda. It creates desire in the minds of the customers – and hence it improves your market position and brand image.
But clear positioning doesn’t only help in product marketing
Think about Sales. Clear positioning gives them a competitive advantage and helps your target audience to qualify in or out (both good) at the earliest stage in the process, and from there it drives both win-rates and deal value up. Your ideal customers will be prepared to pay a premium because you provide clear differentiation, instead of asking for a big discount because ‘you’re all alike.’
Think about Services: Clear positioning drives the focus to the most significant change to turn customers into fans. The fit is clear. They are using your product the way it was meant to be, and this means the cost of service goes down while you are delivering with consistency and high quality. Besides that, fans spread the word for you, which goes back to your gain in marketing and your ability to create a unique position.
Think about Product Development: Clear positioning helps you become resourceful. It helps product management with the insights to make the best innovation choices about what goes into the roadmap and what not. Every hour of development investments aids in delivering upon the big idea, the promise, and removing the right weaknesses. That increases product quality and makes the value proposition stronger and stronger.
Think about organizational alignment – once your positioning strategy is clear, all noses are in the same direction. It’s clear ‘who you are for,’ and ‘who you are not for.’ It’s clear what’s the change you seek to make in your customer’s life. This enables everyone to stay curious and contribute to their best ability. It drives accountability and momentum. And with the last I mean: a positive experience that’s big and unstoppable.
In a recent interview I did with Radhika Dutt (RadicalProduct.com) she said:
‘I visualize misalignment as a bunch of arrows that are all pointing in different directions. And so, at the organization, you have speed, but you don’t necessarily have velocity.’
Getting positioning right will help fix this. You’ll help every part of your organization speed up and turn that into organizational velocity you haven’t held possible before.
So, what stops you from clarifying your positioning?