A positioning project requires a serious commitment of time and attention from your team, as well as a financial investment. Whether you do it yourself or partner with a firm, you’ll (hopefully) end up with a positioning you can own that differentiates you in the marketplace.
The most successful positioning projects we’ve run have three things in common: time, attention, and urgency.
We’ve seen positioning projects thrive when:
Most companies invest in readying their sales team in Q1 of each year. That means that Q4 is one of the best times to launch a positioning project. Chances are, the team will focus on positioning because they know the new positioning will affect the pitch and, most importantly, revenue.
Kickoff is also the perfect test-market for the positioning. When you see new sales messaging in action, you know exactly what changes are necessary to create an emotional connection with customers
Similarly, when you bring in a new head of sales, they’ll want to refine or even overhaul the sales pitch. That’s another good time to assemble your team and figure out who you are as a company and the messages you want to bring to the market.
Most pitch decks detail your technology, team, roadmap, and use of funds. But what you really need to sell to investors is how you will change the world and why people should care. Your positioning is core to this story. Like most startups, your positioning will change slightly — or drastically — in your company’s first years. Whatever your positioning was the last time you raised money, before you go out to the market again, it most likely needs a refresh.
When you complete a merger or acquisition, everyone from the executives down to the front line should share the same story. That story reflects your positioning. Once you bring two companies together, the new company will be eager to move into the next phase of growth. When you agree on your positioning and narrative, you’ll decrease the assimilation period and accelerate at a quicker pace.
Think VMworld, Dreamforce, and Oracle OpenWorld. These events connect you with your most loyal customers and motivated prospects. You’ll probably announce a product launch — or two — during the conference and your marketing team will create mountains of content just for that event. Your positioning must shine through all of your keynote speeches, signage, and even swag. A strong positioning and messaging can unify all that you do at the event and ensure that your content is meaningful and relevant to the story you need to tell.
Finally, while it doesn’t have the urgency or attention of a sales kickoff, when you are invited to speak at an event, you have the chance introduce — or reintroduce — your company and message to the world. If your positioning needs a revamp, this is the perfect time. Your speech can begin to situate your company in peoples’ minds and hearts, setting the tone for business to come.
Like any big project, timing matters. When you consider a positioning project, consider your calendar. Timing is one of the common denominators of a repositioning project’s success: when you launch a positioning at a point of inflection, you increase the likelihood that the shift goes as smoothly and successfully as possible. So look at the big picture, look at the clock, and make timing a part of your positioning equation.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency.
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