What is product positioning?
Product positioning is the basis of your marketing story. The goal is to distill who your audience is, what they need, and how your product can uniquely help. It is a strategic exercise that defines where your product or service fits in the marketplace and why it is better than alternative solutions.
The outcome of product positioning is an internal document that informs external messaging — including how you will communicate product benefits to customers. Positioning helps ground your marketing efforts in the real value you provide beyond features and functionality.
Your ability to articulate the key benefits of your product and the problem it solves is critical to business success. But you may find yourself in a company where product positioning is not well-defined. Maybe this is because there is unclear ownership or an ever-changing vision. Dig deeper and you may realize that you can lead a collaborative effort to fine-tune the positioning. Your colleagues in sales and marketing will likely be strong advocates of this work — great positioning makes it possible to craft meaningful messages and create even more value for customers.
What is the best way to develop product positioning?
Product positioning is a cross-functional exercise. It typically involves product management and product marketing working closely together to define the core essence of your product. You will need to bring together your knowledge of the following areas:
Understand the customer
Your positioning should succinctly capture who your customers are and what they need. Describe the attributes of your target customers, including demographic, behavioral, psychographic, and geographic details. You will also want to provide insights into the main problems the customer is trying to solve. Use your persona profiles to inform your positioning and help the broader team build empathy with your customers.
Analyze the market
You need to know what alternatives customers have to your product so you can highlight what sets your offering apart. Research your direct and indirect competitors to understand how they serve your customers’ needs. This will allow you to differentiate your product from the competition and help you explain to potential customers why your solution is the best option to solve their problems.
Assess the product
Your positioning must be built on the unique value your company and product provides. Conducting a SWOT analysis is a useful way to objectively analyze what your product is doing well and where it can do better. This ensures that your marketing message aligns with the product experience, thus helping customers make informed decisions.
What elements define product positioning?
Product positioning is made up of core building blocks that explain your product’s unique value. After you have completed your customer, market, and product assessments, you can align the broader team around the best way to position your product for success.
Here are the key elements that define your product positioning:
The overall direction for where your product is headed
What you will do or build to make your vision a reality
The market that you are in and your key customer segments
Catchphrase or slogan you use to describe your company or product
Major pain points for your customers
Company and product differentiators
Unique, value-creating characteristics of your company or product
The core attributes you want to be known for
Here is a template you can download for free to capture the key positioning elements described above for your product or service.
What is a product positioning statement?
Once your positioning is defined, create a brief positioning statement that describes your target audience, what sets your product apart, and why customers should care about it. Here is an example of a positioning statement template:
For [group of users] that [need/want], [company/product] is a [category/solution] that uniquely solves this by [benefit].
It would be helpful to use an example company to talk through this. Let’s use Fredwin Cycling, a fictitious company that builds a cycling app. The target market is predominantly cycling enthusiasts who are interested in improving their fitness. Your market and customer research reveals that users are concerned about their health but are struggling to stick with an exercise program. Users want to stay motivated by connecting with like-minded friends. The product addresses this need by providing a social cycling community that promotes friendly competition and tracks workout performance.
Here is a sample positioning statement for Fredwin Cycling:
For cyclists that want to connect with other athletes, Fredwin Cycling is the leading social fitness application that uniquely brings the cycling community together by promoting healthy competition.
What influences how a product is perceived?
Your positioning shapes how you want your product to be known in the market. But there are many different factors that can affect how your product is perceived. The major influence is what customers experience when they actually use your product and interact with your company. It is the summation of the Complete Product Experience (CPE) that determines what customers think and feel about your product.
There are seven core areas that contribute to the CPE:
How potential customers learn about your product and decide if it might be a fit
How prospects get the information they need to make a purchasing decision
The core set of features that customers pay for
The internal systems that make it possible to deliver the product
The ecosystem of products the customer uses
How customers receive product training and assistance
The rules that govern how your company does business
Remember, every touchpoint with your company either reinforces or undermines your positioning. So while you should consciously plan how to position your product, you should think broadly about every aspect of the adoption process. Because your customers will decide what they really think about your product.
A great product positioning summary is even more powerful when it is embedded into your product planning and roadmapping tool. Try Aha! Roadmaps for free for 30 days. It includes hundreds of interactive strategy and roadmap templates to get you started.