Last month I was preparing to conduct a positioning workshop for a client. The CFO sent me an email that said: “Is it possible to give me an example of what a positioning statement looks like? I think I understand the concept, but not sure how it looks or will be used…”

It occurred to me that my response to him could be useful for others, so here it is:

Positioning statements are internal and strategic. They are not written to be “consumer friendly,” i.e. they sound awkward but contain the five key pieces of information that we must define in order to be able to talk about your “product” and how it’s different from the competition.

The five key pieces of information:
1. Who is your specific target
2. What is their unmet need
3. Who is your competitive set/category
4. Unique Point of Difference: How do you uniquely meet the target’s unmet need compared to the rest of your competitive set
5. What are three reasons to believe that you can credibly claim to own this unique point of difference?

This is the positioning statement template that we’ll be filling in is:

To [The Target] with the [Unmet Need], COMPANY NAME is the [Competitive Set] that [Unique Point of Difference] because [Reason To Believe 1], [Reason To Believe 2], [Reason To Believe 3].

This template is deceptively simple! But it drives a very strategic discussion that often takes my clients about 4 hours to finalize one of these. The discussion typically requires the team to make some hard choices, especially because you are only allowed one answer for each of the five items.

Here is a sample final positioning statement that I worked on with GiveForward, a local Chicago company:

To people who have friends with cancer who are in financial need due to their illness, GiveForward is the medical fundraising website that empowers people to help financially because it has an easy-to-use process, fundraising coaches to help you, and it has helped families and friends raise over $36M for their loved ones.

And, if you’d like, you can watch a webinar I gave on positioning here.

What questions do you have about positioning your company? I’d love to hear them!