Step-By-Step Guide to Product Positioning For Entrepreneurs
Positioning is not a useless five-line statement. It can drive your sales when created and implemented right. This article helps to get started.
Your target audience is overwhelmed with the choice.
Hundreds of new products launch every day. And every app looks almost the same.
How to stand out in the crowd of competitors?
By making irresistible product positioning. That is too good to be ignored.
This guide will navigate you through creating a positioning that sells. My framework is designed explicitly for Indie Entrepreneurs and Bootstrapped Founders.
Step 1. Analyze Your Target Audience
The first step should be devoted to your target audience, even if you already have a product. User needs are more important than product features.
During user research, you can find out that people actually need a different type of product format. And instead of launching another online course, you will build Notion Templates or a productized service.
During the first step, you need to complete four tasks:
- Pick only one persona (hypothesis)
- Run at least 10 problem (or customer) interviews
- Summarize learnings in advanced persona
- Understand who is not your target audience
It will be excruciating to pick one persona to focus on, but it's necessary. After reaching the Product-Market Fit with the first persona, you will be ready to add the second and third persona.
To run user interviews, I suggest using the Customer Forces Canvas. This framework is the ultimate hack to have better interviews. Apply it to at least 10-15 interviews.
After these interviews, you will clearly understand your best customer. You are ready to create an advanced persona.
This will be your holy grain for the next year. Your marketing and product will be focused on this persona. Other use cases and segments will be ignored.
Before going to the next step, understand your worst customers. These people can buy your product, but you don't want to have them. Describe these segments in detail.
Now you understand the demand side of your problem. Let's move to the supply part.
Step 2. Analyze Your Competitors
Your target audience is already solving the problem. They can use a technological startup or traditional approach or just ignore the problem.
Understand what's happening right in your market. This will help you with building a more relevant and up-to-date positioning.
- Pick three competitors (at least one should be a non-technological solution)
- Understand their strengths
- Mine insights from their weaknesses
- Define what has changed in this niche in the last 3-5 years
- Find trends that will change this niche in the next 1-2 years
Your competitor research shouldn't finish with the conclusion, "they are losers, a quick win for me". Instead, understand what your competitors are good at. If someone is dominating SEO, you should know about this.
But the key gems are hidden in analyzing current solutions' disadvantages. You can find weak points that your product can solve better and attract unsatisfied customers.
Focus on analyzing negative reviews. People will tell you exactly what drove them mad and why they care about it. This is a goldmine of insights for your positioning.
Finish this exercise by analyzing industry changes. Your competitors don't operate in a vacuum. You need to understand what has already changed and what will be in the next years. This way, your positioning will be more durable and contemporary.
At this point, we covered both the demand and supply parts of the problem. Now let's define your high-level value proposition.
Step 3. Define Your Transformation
People don't buy product features; they buy a transformation. From state A, they hate to state B, they desire.
Your product's job is to deliver the customer to the other side. This is your Jobs-To-Be-Done or Value Proposition (call it how you like).
Here is a quick plan to nail this step:
- Understand your big idea
- Describe your transformation in 1 sentence
- Highlight reasons to "buy" the transformation
Before describing your transformation, you should step back to the more conceptual level. You need to understand the big promise you are making.
It can be anything from "No-Code is the future" to "Entrepreneurship is the ultimate freedom". You should genuinely believe in your big idea. Even if everyone is saying it's not realistic.
Then you need to summarize your big idea in one sentence. This transformation will be sold to your target audience. Stay focused on the "desired state B" that your customers are buying.
Be conscious that not everyone understands the value behind your transformation. That's why you need to sell the transformation too. You can do it with rational, emotional, and social reasons.
Congratulations, you just got yourself a value proposition. Let's connect it with your product.
Step 4. Describe Your Product
People (still) don't buy product features. But they need to know what value they can get from your features. Benefits sell.
Let's take high-level transformation and apply it to your product. This way, your value proposition will become more down to earth.
- Describe the benefit behind 3-4 key features
- Define the uncopyable flow
- Embed the right emotions
- Understand your activation
Your product has a lot of features. But your target audience can only remember four features. Anything else will be forgotten in five seconds.
Describe the value for each feature. For example, "25 columns in Airtable" → "Find a perfect for your product newsletter in seconds". Nobody cares about columns, but people desire simplicity and customization.
But features can be copied. Snapchat came up with stories, and now everyone has it. Feature differentiation is a myth in 2023.
But here is the good part. Your competitors can't copy some features without breaking the current flow of the product. For example, if their product is highly customizable, they can't copy your minimalistic product flow. It would ruin the product for their existing customers.
Moreover, you should go beyond features with emotions. Align the user experience with positioning by embedding the right emotions. It can be confidence, curiosity, challenge, fun, or other emotions. Just make sure it doesn't conflict with your positioning.
Finally, understand the moment your target audience will experience in everything mentioned above. At what point will they be, "Aha, I totally get why this product is awesome"? This is your activation step in the marketing funnel. It can be a landing page, product video, free trial, webinar, or a call with a sales representative.
Now you have a target audience that knows your value proposition and the product's superpowers. It's high time to close the deal.
Step 5. Leverage Sales
Your positioning is no good if it doesn't drive purchases. To make it happen, you need to know how exactly you will embed the positioning in the sales process.
- Define the offer on the landing page
- Handle objections
- Understand your positioning reinforcements
Offer is different from positioning. It's the promise you put on the landing page so customers will buy your product. Irresistible offers consist of three parts: positive value, time to value, and key objection.
For example, your offer in Heading 1 could be, "Start selling with your new website in 1 hour without coding". This is what your customers will remember about your product the next day.
Great offers handle the key objection. But your target audience has more doubts in their head. Answer these tough questions to get more sales. Don't expect people to fall in love with your positioning just because you wrote clever copy.
And finally, think about marketing content that reinforces your positioning. For example, you need success studies if you are selling coaching services. Not just testimonials but the transformation stories that cover in detail your coaching process. Prioritize getting positioning reinforcements by any means.
Your positioning is ready. Now the real fun begins.
Step 6. Make it Actionable
Frameworks are useless without action. Your product positioning is no exception to this rule.
- Summarize your positioning in the living document
- Change your landing page
- Change your email welcome sequence
- Change your product onboarding, and the first session
- Improve your marketing funnel (pay attention to the activation and positioning reinforcements)
- Align your personal brand positioning with product positioning
- Run more customer interviews to validate the new positioning
Positioning is not a one-time task in your marketing backlog. It's continuous work on improving your startup's perceived value. The good part? The results will impress you. You will get more paying customers without getting more users.
Product positioning is the foundation of marketing. If your value proposition sucks, getting more users won't save your product. They will just come and go.
Spend one week improving your positioning, and marketing will feel easier. You will achieve more by investing less.