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Manner again in 1969, a really perceptive marketer named Jack Trout launched the idea of name positioning to the world. He was the primary to place a phrase to a really highly effective advertising impact. A number of years later, he and Al Ries wrote the seminal ebook, Positioning: The Battle for Your Thoughts, and the remaining is historical past.

Now, greater than half a century later, the idea of positioning is simply as related to companies — and possibly extra so. If something, as we speak’s skilled providers market is way bigger and extra crowded. Patrons have a bewildering array of corporations to select from, and with the rise of the Web, native corporations are contending with corporations throughout the nation, if not the world.

What’s a agency to do? How do you compete when there’s barely room to breathe?

That’s the place model positioning is available in. It elegantly explains how folks see {the marketplace} and prescribes a method corporations can carve out a spot within the minds of their consumers.

Model Positioning Outlined

At its easiest, model positioning is the method of setting what you are promoting aside out of your opponents in a method that builds choice for you amongst your target market. Its objective is to affiliate your agency with an concept or class within the minds of people that would possibly purchase your providers.

Let’s take into account a few examples.

What do you consider whenever you learn the phrases, “smooth drink” or “pop”? Did Coke or Pepsi come to thoughts? These two merchandise are positioned to dominate the smooth drink class.

Now let’s strive a service. What firm does “in a single day transport” make you consider? Though different corporations provide in a single day supply, FedEx owns that class — it has constructed its whole identification and operations round doing it higher than anybody else.

In idea, any skilled providers agency can construct a powerful affiliation between their model and an concept. However to achieve success, your positioning should be 1) completely different (it’s robust to take over a management place already held by one other enterprise — bear in mind, Avis has been #2 since 1953.); and a pair of) seen (if no one has heard of your agency, your positioning can’t take root).

Usually, your model positioning is articulated in your model positioning assertion. However I’ll have much more to say about {that a} bit later.

Why Model Positioning Is Necessary

When you may have a well-defined model place, your agency has many benefits. Positioning can present a conceptual template on your model, your advertising messages, the providers you provide and even the best way you construction your pricing.

Listed below are a number of of the important thing advantages of name positioning:

  1. It focuses you on a particular goal market. If you present a restricted set of providers to a restricted viewers, your advertising turns into extra highly effective and efficient. You’re perceived as a high-value knowledgeable.
  2. It clarifies how you might be completely different from opponents. You’ll lastly know precisely what units you aside and be capable of speak about your agency in a method that will get prospects excited.
  3. It exhibits learn how to win new shoppers. Positioning arms what you are promoting improvement staff with crucial arguments they’ll use within the nurturing and shutting processes.
  4. It drives inventive selections. If you perceive the core message it is advisable to talk to prospects, you may make knowledgeable selections all through the inventive course of. Your positioning turns into the DNA of your visible model.
  5. It drives service improvement and pricing selections. Understanding the way you examine to your opponents helps you resolve what new providers to supply, and when. Are you positioned as a supply of progressive providers? A low-cost supplier? A specialist or a generalist? The solutions to those questions can have an effect on what providers you provide and learn how to value them.
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5 Sorts of Model Positioning Technique

Positioning methods can take many varieties, however not all are applicable for skilled providers corporations. Under are 5 methods which can be most related to positioning a agency like yours:

  1. Price-driven positioning. “We provide all the pieces these different corporations do, however we price much less.” This can be a very difficult technique until you may have an inherent price benefit. Know-how might be your greatest pal if you’re utilizing it extra successfully than your opponents or your worst enemy if you’re behind others in a cost-driven technique.
  2. Area of interest service specialization. On this technique, you give attention to providing a service that’s not broadly accessible by opponents. You provide specialised experience that, presumably, a generalist wouldn’t have. This method can work nicely until the service begins to generate robust demand and new opponents emerge to dilute your “specialness.”
  3. Trade specialization. This can be a standard and infrequently efficient solution to place an expert providers agency. It’s one other type of specialised experience, and it means that you can tightly focus your advertising and evolve your providers as your market adjustments. The implication of business specialization is that your agency has deep expertise working with related companies. This method comes with dangers, nonetheless. In case your business experiences an financial decline, your fortunes could comply with. It’s also straightforward for brand new opponents to enter the fray and disrupt your positioning.
  4. Function-focused specialization. “We assist CEOs succeed” is an instance of role-focused positioning — concentrating on a specific operate within the group. As a substitute of specializing in a specific business or service, you goal a cohort of individuals. These consumers will understand you as extra tuned in to their wants and expectations that you simply provide particular information or experience that can make their job simpler.
  5. High quality of service positioning. This is without doubt one of the most typical methods utilized by skilled providers corporations, and (with uncommon exceptions) it is without doubt one of the least efficient. “No person’s extra dedicated to high quality,” “we ship the very best service” and related messages are so ubiquitous within the market that they completely fail to impress consumers. After all, consumers do need high quality and customer support — however these traits are desk stakes and they’re hardly ever standards used to pick out a agency.

Model Positioning Examples

What does a well-positioned agency appear like? Under we embrace a number of examples of how a few of our personal shoppers have positioned themselves within the market. These examples symbolize the purest distillation of their model positioning—easy concepts that anybody within the market can perceive however that are troublesome for opponents to repeat.

Vault Consulting

“The nation’s main accounting and analysis agency for nonprofits and associations.”

Why it really works: Vault’s uncommon mixture of accounting and analysis providers, along side their business focus, permits them to assert management standing.

Sellers Dorsey

“The nation’s main Medicaid consultancy to well being care suppliers, payors and state governments.”

Why it really works: They do only one factor: Medicaid consulting. They usually have constructed a market management place round that specialization.

20-20 Companies

“We give attention to only one factor: equipping as we speak’s accounting professionals with all the abilities, information and management coaching they should thrive and develop.”

Why it really works: They give attention to a strong want within the CPA business: retaining accounting professionals absolutely educated and outfitted to construct their enterprise.

What Is a Model Positioning Assertion?

A model positioning assertion is a succinct, easy-to-understand paragraph that describes your agency’s positioning within the market. It ought to handle three questions: 1) What do you do? 2) Who do you serve? 3) How are you completely different from related corporations within the market? It might additionally embrace different key causes shoppers favor your agency over others. A model positioning assertion is primarily an inside doc {that a} agency’s advertising and enterprise improvement groups can use to craft differentiated advertising language—although a few of its language could also be used verbatim in public-facing messaging. In Step 4 beneath, we clarify learn how to write your personal positioning assertion.

The Model Positioning Course of

Able to develop a model positioning technique on your personal agency? The steps beneath offers you a stable roadmap to get there. I’ve additionally included hyperlinks to different sources that can assist fill in a number of the particulars. Let’s get began!

Step 1. Begin together with your total enterprise imperatives. What are you attempting to perform as a agency? Your positioning is a elementary pillar of enterprise technique, and it impacts the way you drive development and appeal to the expertise it is advisable to maintain your growth. In the event you don’t have what you are promoting targets written down already, sit down together with your administration staff and ensure everybody has a transparent set of priorities. That method, whenever you start formulating your positioning assertion you’ll a transparent vacation spot in thoughts.

Step 2. Analysis your goal shoppers and opponents. In accordance with a examine {of professional} providers advertising, corporations which have a powerful understanding of their audiences and competitors are greater than twice as more likely to be high-growth companies (people who develop a minimum of 20% 12 months over 12 months). The sort of investigation is commonly known as model analysis, and it’s usually performed by an impartial entity to make sure its confidentiality and encourage extra sincere suggestions from contributors. It often entails interviews with present shoppers, prospects, and referral sources. It additionally consists of an evaluation of your opponents — what they’re saying about themselves and the way your viewers perceives them.

Model analysis may determine strengths and weaknesses you weren’t in a position to see earlier than. As well as, you’ll study what components potential shoppers worth most through the choice course of.

And model analysis is crucial to the success of the following step.

Step 3. Establish your differentiators. That is the place what you are promoting targets and model analysis flip into advertising gold. Drawing on the insights of your staff, exterior perceptions of your agency and a brand new understanding of your opponents’ positioning, you’ll select traits that each set you aside out of your competitors and are beneficial to potential shoppers on the time they choose a agency.

Robust differentiators should additionally meet three different standards: they should be 1) true, 2) provable and three) related to your target market. If a differentiator isn’t true, shoppers will usually sense it and method your agency with skepticism. That’s why it is best to be capable of help every differentiator with proof. Typically you’ll uncover proof in your model analysis (for instance, a discovering that “9 out 10 shoppers refer us to others” is a pleasant statistic to bolster a wide range of differentiators).

Some differentiators could also be traits that you simply uncover in your analysis (“shoppers discover us to be extremely versatile”), whereas others could also be a specialization that you’ve already cultivated (“we offer community safety providers completely to accounting corporations”). In the event you discover your present differentiators missing, you could resolve to pursue a brand new space of focus or consider a specific space of energy. Whereas this method can be aspirational at first, it may well work as long as you really commit your agency to it and might show you might be doing it going ahead. If you’re struggling to think about attainable differentiators, seek the advice of this checklist of 21 skilled service differentiators for concepts. Or, check out this checklist of the 12 worst differentiators for skilled providers corporations to ensure your present differentiators aren’t included.

To study extra about uncovering your differentiators, try our free Differentiation Information for Skilled Companies Companies. Additionally, I counsel you learn this weblog submit on aggressive differentiation.

Step 4. Craft your model positioning assertion. Now it’s time to translate your differentiators right into a story that clearly communicates your aggressive benefit. A positioning assertion distills your key shopping for propositions into a brief paragraph. It’s an inside doc — as a result of it’s compact it’s not meant for use verbatim in your web site or in your advertising supplies. As a substitute, consider it as a supply you may return to repeatedly whenever you want the inspiration to explain your agency or persuade folks to purchase from you.

A model positioning assertion can take two completely different varieties: a crafted paragraph or a prompted assertion. Growing a crafted paragraph takes extra talent and time, however some corporations discover that it interprets extra simply into advertising messages. A prompted assertion is faster and easier to assemble — your staff fills within the blanks with the suitable data.

Right here’s an instance of a positioning assertion in paragraph type:

Newco is the nation’s main IT consultancy that focuses on regulation corporations and authorized departments. Our staff of attorneys, engineers, CIOs, government administrators, and undertaking managers is uniquely positioned to make your observe extra productive and worthwhile. We’re acquainted with the lots of of software program purposes utilized by the authorized neighborhood, and we’ve developed a set of instruments that makes migrating and configuring techniques quicker and extra environment friendly. We even have a repute for doing a job as soon as and doing it proper — that’s why 4 out of 5 shoppers put us on a long-term contract. If you want the very best authorized IT recommendation and help, Newco is the simple alternative.

And right here’s what a prompted assertion template, able to be stuffed out, seems like:


If Newco had used the prompted assertion, that is the way it would possibly learn:


Whichever format you select, your model positioning assertion ought to embrace the next parts:

  • Your agency title
  • What you do
  • Who you serve
  • Why shoppers select you
  • Proof that helps your claims

Okay, let’s break down the Newco instance and ensure we’re coated.

What’s their title? Newco. (Verify!)

What providers do they supply? IT consulting providers.

Who’s their target market? Legislation corporations and authorized departments.

Why do shoppers select them over different corporations? They work completely with authorized practices, so they’re business specialists. This provides them a bonus when pursuing enterprise with regulation corporations and authorized departments over generalist IT corporations that serve a number of industries. In addition they declare to be the leaders of their area of interest.

What else helps their positioning? They’ve developed a proprietary suite of instruments that permits them to do their job higher than their competitors. And since their staff consists of professionals who’ve been of their shoppers’ footwear (attorneys, CIOs, government administrators) they’re nicely attuned to their wants. In addition they have an important repute, which they’ll display by citing the excessive proportion of shoppers that put them on long-term contracts.

So how do you utilize your model positioning assertion? The very first thing many corporations do is develop their elevator pitch — that brief description of your agency that solutions the query, “What does your agency do?” Hold your elevator pitch brief — a sentence or two will often do the trick — and write it in pure, conversational language. If folks have been to memorize it, it ought to sound like one thing an individual would truly say.

You can even use your positioning assertion as the inspiration of your messaging structure. Your messaging structure is a doc that spells out key messages for every of your audiences and addresses particular objections they might have. For instance, “Why would I select your agency over a better-known competitor?”

Lastly, you’ll use your positioning assertion as inspiration for headlines and persuasive language in your web site and in advertising collateral.

Step 5. Implement your new positioning. No technique, irrespective of how well-conceived, will survive poor implementation. You must have the best communications instruments in place — items that can help the brand new message you might be delivering. And which will require revisiting all the pieces you utilize to market your providers. On the very least, you’ll want to mirror your new positioning in your advertising supplies and web site.

For some corporations, nonetheless, implementation entails rethinking their total identification or initiating a rebranding course of. This course of can contain a soup-to-nuts overhaul — a brand new title, tagline, brand, web site, advertising supplies, and extra. Usually, this occurs when a agency both undergoes a change in technique or realizes that its model is outdated and not displays the caliber of the agency they’ve turn into.

As you develop your new positioning, take into consideration how you’ll convey that message to the world. What wants to alter, what can keep the identical, and what new elements have to be launched?

Overcoming Positioning Challenges

Repositioning your agency isn’t essentially straightforward. It will depend on the uncooked supplies it’s important to work with and the mindset you carry to the method. Some corporations uncover that they only don’t have robust differentiators. On this all-too-common scenario, a agency has 4 choices:

  1. Embrace a brand new focus in an underserved space. That is the best — and troublesome — possibility. It virtually all the time means letting go of a number of shopper segments to construct momentum and mind-share in one other. In the event you suppose you may pull it off, pursue this method with all of the power you may have. It will probably pay enormous dividends.
  2. Personal a trait. Establish a facet of what you are promoting that you simply want to affiliate together with your agency. It’s okay if opponents do it, too — as long as no one else is utilizing it in the identical method. For instance, an structure agency shopper of ours makes use of business analysis to tell its design course of. This “evidence-based design” method isn’t new, but it surely’s not universally practiced, and none of their opponents have been speaking about it. So the agency determined to personal it. As a part of their model positioning technique, they started utilizing the phrase “scientific” to explain their design philosophy. By tying their method to science, they might start constructing a repute as essentially the most methodical and credible possibility of their market.
  3. Mix two traits. This can be a mashup of choices 1 and a pair of above. Choose two main traits or features of what you are promoting and mix them. You could possibly declare that you’re the chief on the intersection of these two issues. For instance, we positioned an accounting agency as “the nation’s main specialist in honest market valuations and monetary transaction consulting to the healthcare business.” Since no different agency was preeminent in offering each of these providers to the healthcare business, our shopper might credibly name itself a frontrunner.
  4. Do nothing. Or promote weak differentiators, which quantities to the identical factor. You may say that you simply rent solely the very best folks, or that you simply ship the very best customer support, however no one will care.

Model Positioning Technique Examples

Skilled providers corporations usually battle to distinguish and place themselves. So I’d like to finish this piece by inspecting a handful of real-world examples of name positioning technique — particularly, how corporations in numerous industries have used positioning technique to turn into extra aggressive, develop quicker and be extra worthwhile.


Lester + Firm is a Dallas-based accounting agency. At first, they have been a typical basic accounting agency with a various vary of enterprise shoppers. Their fortunes turned for the higher after they determined to pivot and specialise in serving considered one of their strongest shopper segments: eating places. Over time, they determined to slim their focus, much more, to focus on chain eating places. As we speak, they’re thriving and rising of their extremely specialised space of experience. “It’s taken us to a complete new stage of success,” says CEO, Andrew Lester.

Model positioning: The accounting agency for multi-location eating places.

Govt Search

Melissa Henderson was a Managing Director at a big, worldwide search agency when she had a loopy concept. What if C-level executives might rent their very own private consultant, very similar to an elite sports activities agent? It could flip the manager search business on its head. (Typical government search corporations are paid by corporations who’re on the lookout for expertise, not by the job seekers.) So Melissa left her job and based Summit Govt Assets, a agency that helps prime executives discover the management and board positions they’ve all the time needed — with the high-touch private service they deserve.

Model positioning: The private search agency for C-level executives.

Healthcare Consulting

Ascendient is a top-50 consulting agency that serves hospital techniques across the nation. Led by a staff of practitioners and teachers, they’ve a singular perspective on the way forward for healthcare. In truth, they imagine most healthcare techniques usually are not ready for the huge adjustments which can be about to rework {the marketplace}. To make their perspective extra seen and differentiate their agency from consultants that focus totally on as we speak’s issues, Ascendient determined to reposition its agency round its future imaginative and prescient.

Model positioning: We’re rethinking the way forward for healthcare.


Walsh Colucci Lubeley and Walsh is a regulation agency exterior Washington, DC. For many years, they have been a basic regulation agency with a powerful observe in zoning and land use. However when the highest agency in that area dissolved, their management acknowledged a chance and rapidly rebranded their agency as The Land Legal professionals. Whereas they proceed to supply a number of basic authorized providers, Walsh Colucci focuses their model message squarely on its space of energy. As we speak, they’ve turn into the area’s dominant participant in business actual property regulation.

Model positioning: Northern Virginia’s premier business actual property regulation agency.


{Most professional} providers corporations are poorly positioned within the market. They imagine that they’ll get extra shoppers by opening their arms broad to everybody — the broader their attain, the extra enterprise will float into their embrace. However that’s not what actually occurs. When consumers go searching and see awkwardly splayed arms in every single place, they’ve nowhere to gravitate.

That’s why having a model positioning technique is so essential. It offers your prospects one thing to get considering — and can finally persuade them to purchase from you. Your target market will discover you a lot occasions extra fascinating than a generalist agency as a result of you may have the specialised experience they want. And as a specialist, you may usually cost extra, besides.

In case your agency isn’t positioned to persistently appeal to premium shoppers, take coronary heart. You’re not alone. Any agency can sharpen its positioning and construct an enviable aggressive benefit. All it takes is a bit of braveness to take step one.


How Hinge Can Assist

Establish aggressive differentiators that can assist your agency stand out from the competitors and construct a model that drives sustained development with Hinge’s Branding Program.

Model Positioning Technique for the Skilled Companies Trade