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What's Your Position On That?

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According to Google's dictionary, POSITION (or po-si-tion) is a noun that's defined as a place where someone or something has been placed.

As marketers, we look at positioning in much the same way. The positioning for our brand is the specific and unique place we occupy in our customer's mind (or, if we're lucky, in their heart).

A classic positioning statement is made up of several variables:
• Your target audience
• Your company or product or service
• Your key benefit
• Your features and proof points
• Your competitive advantage

Once you have these variables, crafting a positioning statement is a lot like playing Mad Libs. You simply fill in the blanks.

For (TARGET AUDIENCE), (COMPANY/PRODUCT/SERVICE) provides (KEY BENEFIT). You can believe this because (FEATURES/PROOF POINTS). And, it differentiates us because (COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE).

Simple, right?

Wrong.

Over the years, we've facilitated many positioning exercises. You'd be surprised how many different opinions arise from different people. That's why it's important to go through the process with the entire team. Or, if you already have a statement that you're happy with, make sure everyone has it and agrees (or, at least, agrees to live with it).

Let's look at a couple of plausible positioning statements for some familiar brands.

Several years ago, Volkswagon used the tagline "Drivers wanted." The positioning behind that may have been something like this:

For people who pride themselves on their driving ability, Volkswagen offers cars that let you fully experience the road. You can believe this because we marry the science of engineering and the art of styling to create vehicles especially for people who define themselves as drivers. This differentiates us because most auto manufacturers today have let so-called comfort interfere with your connection to the road.

Meanwhile, McDonald's ran its long-lived "Lovin it" campaign. The positioning could have been:

For active people of all ages, McDonald's offers one of life's many small pleasures: a good value and great food that's fun to eat. You can believe this because of the millions of satisfied customers we serve everyday. We're different from other "fast food" restaurants because no other has our unique heritage, global reach and consistency, and our operational excellence.

Remember, your positioning should inform every creative program you implement. If you don't have time to focus on it, don't worry. Nature abhors a vacuum and so do customers. They'll be happy to make up positioning for you.

And, chances are it won't be ... well ... exactly what you'd like it to be.

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