Positioning is another one of those fluffy marketing words that many people don't get. This is unfortunate because it's an important concept.
Positioning is the activity of describing and promoting your unique place in the market. Your position is composed of what you do, who you do it for, and what makes you unique.
Think about the soap market. You've got Dove (the most popular brand in the world), Irish Spring, Ivory. Dove's position is that it is THE soap that is 1/4 moisturizers, so it makes people's (mostly women's) skin softer. Irish Spring is a strong deodorant soap that makes you fresh as an Irish stream and is mostly used by men. Ivory's brand is about purity and its position is that it is 99% pure, and a bit old-fashioned.
Your positioning statement is part of your branding. It's like a mission statement and acts like a blueprint that you use to inform your activities. It guides who you serve, how you serve them, and what makes you different and desirable. If you can't articulate a clear positioning statement, you'll have trouble getting through to your customers.
This is not to say that your positioning statement has to be public knowledge. Again it's a blueprint for your marketing activities. It describes the impression you want to make on your customers.
I have been hesitant to write about positioning statements before because I haven't found a really good model that works for everybody. While a positioning statement may be very simple, cutting to the essential core of your position can be difficult.
I found an article here that outlines a good process for working on your positioning statement.
The model is:
For (target market) (brand name) is the ( product/service description) that (benefit) because it has (reason why.)
I guess I like his model because it pretty closely matches my own positioning statement:
I help small businesses who are frustrated with their marketing results rapidly double or triple their profits
so you have:
[brand name] I [ target market] small businesses frustrated with their marketing results [benefit] rapidly double or triple their marketing results.
OK, so I'm missing a couple components in this model. My positioning statement is scaled back so that I can deliver it verbatim as an elevator pitch. I do know what my services are, and have proof to back up my claims if I need it.
A good exercise is to run familiar brands, products, or companies through this model. Let's do Dove Soap:
For American women aged 25-45 (I don't know if this is their actual target age, I'm just guessing) Dove is the soap that softens skin because it has 1/4 moisturizing lotion.
Have some fun with this, try to make up positioning statements for companies you know.
Your own positioning statement may be more than a single sentence. You may have several target markets, several key benefits, and lots of reasons why. If you provide several products or services to multiple markets each one may have its own positioning statement.
J D Moore - Marketing Comet