If you own a business, or have ever taken a basic business class, then you’re probably familiar with the 3 Ps.
People. Product. Process.
According to the guiding principle of the 3 Ps, managing these three most important factors of a business will help you find unchallenged success. They are the building blocks that help construct a successful business. See, without the right people, a good product, and a proven selling process your business will fail.
But there are thousands of businesses that have all of those things and still find themselves struggling to get by. So what’s missing? Why don’t the 3 Ps alone take your business as far as it needs to go?
Turns out, there is a fourth P that nobody mentioned. Until now.
As important as your people, product, and process are, your positioning is just as important. And especially for all you marketers out there, you know this better than anyone.
When it comes to your product and your process, positioning is an integral part of the equation. Think of positioning the same way as marketing—it’s figuring out how to frame and advertise your product in a way that makes it more appealing to your audience.
Positioning is something that Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, talked about in our recent workshop. It’s an often-overlooked factor of your business that, according to Donald, will make or break you.
Deprioritizing positioning is a mistake that a lot of new business owners make. By not focusing on how you position, promote, and advertise your product/service, you’re putting a cap on your potential for growth. So, we are taking a few tips from Donald Miller and breaking down this forgotten 4th P of business so you no longer wonder why you’re struggling even though you’re doing everything else right.
How Positioning Works
First, you need to ask yourself a few questions:
How is your product actually positioned in the marketplace?
How does that positioning help differentiate you and set you a part in your industry?
Can people figure out easily what you sell and what problem you solve?
All of these answers will help you create your core positioning message, which is something you want your customers to be extremely familiar with.
You want your customer to be able to recite your core messaging back to you. You want them to be able to give you a summary of the purpose of your business. You want them to memorize the problem that you solve.
If you create this kind of brand recognition, it demonstrates that you’ve done an effective job at bringing awareness to your brand, thereby increasing your business’s chance to be successful.
Why Positioning is Important
Remember how we said that positioning is just as important as the other 3 Ps? Well we lied.
Positioning is probably the most important aspect of building your business, even more important than your product itself. That may sound like a stretch, but it’s true.
See, selling well and becoming an authority in your market aren’t just about having the best product or offering the best price. Those things certainly factor into the equation, and good product and low pricing will most certainly help you sell more. But your messaging and positioning are ultimately the things that’s going to help your ability to effectively position and market your product is more important than anything else.
If you’re wondering why that’s the case, it’s because of psychology.
People don’t inherently buy the best product or the flashiest product… they buy the product that they can understand the fastest. That’s because the less mental energy needed to understand the product and what it does, the more likely it is that they will want to buy it.
That’s because our brains are designed to ignore or forget things that don’t matter (we talk more about that in this blog post about how to market for your brain’s survival instinct). We inherently put on blinders to things that don’t interest us, and at a very basic level, aren’t going to help us survive. Even in the context of buying a product, our ability to survive is subconsciously on our mind. That’s why people will almost always buy a product with proper positioning; their brains actually want to pay attention.
If you can properly position what you want to sell, you are going to outsell your competitor every time. It doesn’t matter if competitor’s product is better than yours—if your messaging is better, you will always be the winner.
The Rules of Positioning
Properly positioning your product isn’t rocket science—you already understand that good messaging and marketing are the factors that go into proper product positioning.
But execution is really key.
And although prior marketing experience—which most of our readers have—is certainly helpful, it can also hurt you to an extent if you’re not careful. That’s because of the (very basic) first rule of positioning…
1. Be Clear
If you are in marketing, you’ve probably spent hours thinking of a neat, clever, and cool way to attract customers to your products and get your company’s message across. Sometimes, that method can be really effective in a niche, insider-oriented audience.
But when it comes to foundational product positioning, it’s not the best practice.
Again, people are drawn to products that they can understand the easiest. Not only that, but you only have about 8 to 10 seconds to get a person’s attention and have them decide if they’re going to listen to you or not.
For both of those reasons, clarity is key.
Marketers want to feel like they are smart, clever wordsmiths. And as much fun as it may be to come up with a fun, product-based pun that you and your marketing team think is hilarious, there’s a pretty decent chance your customer will be checking out before they ever hit the punchline.
And, at worst, they’re going to be totally confused. That is the absolute last thing you want.
That doesn’t mean your copy and salesmanship needs to be totally boring and dry. That’s not a good approach either. But when placed up against cute and clever, am emphasis on clarity is always the approach that will win.
The quicker you can get your audience to understand what you do, the more likely it you will convert them into paying customers. Don’t make them guess… just tell them. If you do, then you, your customer, and your business will be much happier in the long run.
2. Utilize the power of narrative
Story telling is an art form that humans have been perfecting since the beginning of time. It is truthfully one of the most effective and powerful tools humans have, which is why marketers and businessowners need to learn how to properly utilize it.
People connect with stories: we have an emotional response to them, react to them, and, most importantly, we remember them.
And, if you remember from earlier, making your product memorable to your customer is the best thing you can do to get them buy.
Using a story for positioning is really effective because it does 2 things:
It more engaging than a sales pitch
It gets your customer involved
Your information will be way more memorable because your customer will pay a lot more attention. Traditional style, direct response sales pitches are essentially 5-minute college seminars that people often tune out. And if people pay thousands of dollars to go to college and still don’t listen to seminars, what makes you think they’ll listen to your mini one?
Stories are engaging, and they’re especially engaging when you frame your customer as the hero of the story.
When you are positioning your product in the marketplace, it’s important to remember that customers will only care what your product will do for them. They don’t usually care about the product itself. That’s why it makes sense to make them the main character of your story—you can create the narrative arc that has them accomplishing their goals using your product. They can be the winner, and you can be the one who made it possible.
So when you are setting up your positioning, try to get as much of a story in there as possible, and make sure your customer is the hero, not your product (and if you want to know more about this strategy, you can check out Donald Miller’s workshop on the StoryBrand method).
The main thing to remember when it comes to building your positioning: there needs to be a problem. Not only that, but you need to make sure your customer memorizes that problem and understand that what you have to offer fixes it.
The best positioned products sell the best, and that’s something that your competitors may be undervaluing. So make sure that you are framing your product within a clear, concise story, and you’ll be making more sales that you can count.
And it won’t even take having the absolute best product on the market.