Construct a Product Position Statement

Published: Aug 31, 2017   |   533 words with about 2 minutes reading time   |   ©2022 by Bob Smith
Category: Marketing   |   Tags: Ogilvy Moore Crossing the Chasm

Confusion is the enemy that dilutes brand building investments. Worse, additional costs may be necessary unwind the mess just back to ground-zero before you can re-spend on the right message to the right audience.

A prime reason for weak product performance almost always comes down to the lack of a concise product positioning statement (pps). When executed correctly, the pps becomes the most vital component. A pps deliberately socialized widely throughout the company drives unified clarity and countless benefits, and may be the pivot between failure and success.

The point of this piece is to advocate and socialize the need for well-executed pps. Successful marketing operators always have a facsimile of a pps in their product descriptions or creative briefs. All approaches are valid so long as they cover the basics. Below is a method I have found useful.

David Ogilvy, regarded as the father of modern advertising with his agency starting in 1948, used a straightforward approach outlined in his book, “Ogilvy on Advertisement” (1983).

it asks just two questions:

He says “I could have positioned Dove as a detergent bar for men with dirty hands, but chose instead to position it as a toilet bar for women with dry skin.”

Simple and still relevant 60 years later.

Go out to the front lines and ask these questions. A variety of answers will be astounding and should be alarming. It is marketing’s fault and their burden to rectify immediately. Any front line confusion is just a small representation of the in the market confusion.

A Solid Process

The below structure, from Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” (2002), is an exercise distilling a product to just its essential points.

The easy to follow process can be used cross-functionally as a socialization exercise. Just use any ‘trust-falls’ ‘yellow-sticky’ plan. Diversity of thought always improves the final result. With the statement memorialized, it becomes a focused iterative tool as the product evolves (and changes) through its lifecycle.

Instructions:

  1. Ends up as two sentences (perhaps very long), no exceptions
  2. Just fill in the blanks
  3. Fill in all blanks - each element is essential.
  4. THERE ARE NO WRONG ANSWERS

For [target customer] who [need or opportunity], [product name] is a [product category] that [key benefit].

Unlike [alternative], our product [differentiator].

Definitions

Statement Description Example
For [target customer] A concise definition of the market segment For [urban-dwelling, educated and techno- savvy consumers]
who [need or opportunity] A generic name to help categorize the solution to the market who [need occasional transportation]
[product] A generic name to classify the solution to the market [UBER]
is a [product category] The problem statement indicating the underserved need or market gap is a [transportation solution]
that [key benefit] Key benefit(s) and the value provided that [saves money]
Unlike [alternative] Defines the primary alternative or competitive solution Unlike [conventional automobile ownership]
our product [differentiator] How product differs from the competitor that creates customer value our product [eliminates the fixed costs of owning and maintaining a car]