A table made of hockey sticks.
That’s what holds the key – the ultimate metaphor, if you will – to develop an effective market positioning for your business.
You see, this table is absolutely hideous. It’s quite literally made of hockey sticks. It’s not a table with a piece of a hockey stick embedded. No. It’s entirely made of hockey sticks. And it sold quickly.
How does this apply to market positioning?
This table stands out in a sea of unwanted wares at my neighborhood thrift store. So much, in fact, that this terribly gaudy and awful table sold in just a day or so. As Seth Godin argued in Purple Cow, sticking out is the key to getting noticed.
You must be remarkable.
The reason is simple. An everyday-looking table may appeal to lots of people, but no one is passionate about yet another mundane table. Contrast that to feelings evoked in a hockey fan when they see a table made of hockey sticks.
Magnetically drawn is a good way to describe it.
Deep Connection vs. Broad Appeal
You have a market to serve, and an offer to that market. How you define each of them will have a huge impact on your ability to stick in the minds of your prospects, or even gain awareness in the first place.
Most of businesses approach the market like this:
This line of thought misses something important: you can’t create a deep connection with someone if you’re addressing 25 different someones. This shotgun approach leads to a bland-as-hell, vanilla-in-a-bad-way marketing message.
You won’t be solving any one person’s problems. Instead you’ll market a general message to a general audience and most people generally won’t care when they hear it.
In contrast, you can focus on a subset of a larger market, like the hockey stick table. That laser focus looks like this:
Now you’re more targeted, niched, and more likely to resonate with a market. Hockey stick table, anyone?
Different Is Easier to Notice
Our brains work in patterns – whenever something out of the ordinary or unexpected happens, we pay attention in case it’s a threat.
It’s engrained in us to give attention to those things that are different.
Market positioning also forces you to be a little different. I’m not a believer that you have to come up with something totally and utterly unique unless you want gigantic mass market success. That only happens in very rare cases, and is probably not the goal you’re after.
But be confident in the fact that even businesses with minor differences in their positioning stand out from the crowd. Most businesses get this so completely wrong that you’re in a good position if you pick a clear position in your market.
There are so many ways to do this, but a few examples include:
- Serving a specific target market
- Emphasizing a difference in your business model
- Creating a unique process
- Delivering the highest quality
- Guaranteeing results
- Providing the lowest price
- Being the fastest
- Having a one-of-a-kind product
- Giving the absolute best customer service
- Selling a limited supply
- And on….
Let’s translate the list above into positioning for the hockey stick table. It serves a specific target market with a one-of-kind product (in limited supply). It sticks out (pun love).
Because most markets are already saturated, you’ll probably need a combination of two or more ways to position yourself. But pick something to get started and you’ll be well ahead of your competition.
Express Your Values
Good positioning often expresses a core value of a company. Obviously the hockey stick table says “hockey is awesome.” Your company’s positioning should make a concrete commitment just like that.
You see, when you express your values, a few things will happen:
- You turn away people who are a bad fit for your company because they disagree
- You draw in people who agree with you
- You publicly stand for something
This process will definitely narrow your market, sure, but you’re not in the business of selling to everyone. Let me repeat that: you’re not in the business of selling to everyone. Take a deep breath and let it sink in.
I won’t give you all of our values, but I’ll show you a few just to make it more concrete for you:
- Business results are paramount: every Good Funnel engagement is designed to deliver specific business goals, not make clients “happy” – clients are happiest when we achieve business results, period
- Data is indispensible: collecting primary and secondary data will create the most effective, predictable, and repeatable marketing campaigns that people love
- Stories stick: human beings love stories and they’re the most powerful way to get a message across and make it stick
- Creativity takes research: in order to find a truly creative solution to a problem, the problem must be fully understood – and that takes some digging
- We don’t know sh!!: the more you assume, the more you’re wrong, so keep an open mind and approach every problem with no preconceptions
- Teamwork leads to optimal outcomes: no one person is capable of achieving as much as a cooperative, well-tuned team
Of course we can’t share all of these values in every message we create, but take a look at our home page and you’ll see that we message on most of them in less than a hundred words.
And here’s what I know for sure: if someone buys into our positioing, they buy into at least some of our values. That’s a recipe for success.
Be the Hockey Stick Table
Rather than going for hockey stick growth, go for market positioning like the hockey stick table.
Once you get clear on your market positioning and therefore the high value you deliver, you’ll see your marketing and sales get a lot easier.
So go ahead: be the hockey stick table.
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