The product management guide

Aha! helps product managers get their mojo back

What is product positioning?

Product positioning is where your product fits in the marketplace. You have the opportunity to guide it, but your customers will make up their minds about what your product really means to them. The good news is that if you concentrate on the value you want to deliver and actually deliver against that promise, your product will be positioned for broader success.

What is the goal of product positioning?

The goal of product positioning is to connect and resonate with your customers. It's about explaining what your product is and where it is going. You hope to represent your product in the best light and that your customers will like your product, continue to use it, and tell their friends.

Before you can position your product, however, you must define your core market and know what is most important to them. You can make assumptions, but the best way is to talk to customers and find out what actually matters most to them.

Say your product is a social fitness application called Fredwin Cycling Software. Your target market is predominantly fitness enthusiasts who want to be healthy and stay in shape. You find out through discussions that your users are concerned about their health, but say they are more likely to stick with an exercise program if they can connect with friends to make it more fun.

Now that you have more information about what is most important to your customers, you can then position the product as an easy-to-use means to make exercise more fun by sharing information about your workouts with others. [This assumes of course, that that is what it actually does]. This message will likely resonate with your target audience -- which is your goal.

Keep in mind that you may have several different types of users for your product. When that is the case, you may need to vary your messaging accordingly based on the audience and channel you are using to communicate with them.

What influences how a product is perceived?

There are many different factors that can affect your ability to position the product the way you would like. Obviously, the major influence is what customers experience when they use your product and interact with your company. Every touch point with your company reinforces your positioning or destroys it. Here are additional influences:

  • What your customers actually need and want
  • Your competitors and their positioning
  • What key influencers say about your product
  • The channels you use to communicate about your product

What is a product positioning statement?

Once you figure out how you will position your product, it helps to create a brief product positioning statement that defines your target audience, what sets your product apart, and why customers should care about it. You can use a formula like this to write a product positioning statement:

For (this group of users), they have (this specific problem), which (your company name) uniquely solves/makes possible by providing (this value).

Here is a sample positioning statement for our example company:

For cycling enthusiasts, they would like to connect with other exercise enthusiasts, which Fredwin Cycling Software uniquely makes possible by promoting social interaction and healthy competition among friends.

Remember, while you should consciously plan how to position your product, ultimately your customers will decide what they really think about it.

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