Unique Positioning Statement (Part 2)

What Makes Your Business Unique?

Branding Yourself in the Customer's Eyes
Part 2 of a Four-Part Tutorial

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Start with Your Mission Statement

Several considerations go into developing a solid Unique Positioning Statement. First, to be effective, a UPS must be brief. Preferably it should be only one sentence long, and certainly no longer than two.

Remember that your UPS is going to set the frame for all of your marketing and advertising efforts. The more concise and precise it is, the more effectively it can serve this purpose.

Positioning statements should not be attempted until you have first articulated your core values and developed your vision and mission statements. Indeed, if your mission statement is crafted along the lines that we recommend in our tutorial on vision and mission statements, it provides the basic framework for your UPS.

Your Unique Positioning Statement, however, has a different flavor from your mission statement. A mission statement largely highlights what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. A UPS highlights your primary customer and the value that you want this customer to associate with your company.

Listen to Your Customers

You may choose to state this value in the form of a benefit, as we did in our own UPS cited in the first part of this tutorial. Benefits are simply another way of looking at values. After all, would we consider anything a benefit if it did not satisfy some value?

The value behind your UPS, moreover, is a value that's important to potential customers, not the value that you think you offer. People are not interested in what you are selling. Your product or service has interest to them only to the degree that it fulfills some value to which they attach importance. They choose you over your competition because they see you as fulfilling this value in some unique way.

In determining what your Unique Positioning Statement should be, ask your customers or clients why they have chosen to do business with you. Then listen carefully to their answers. Listen especially to the values that led to their choice. Is there a recurring pattern in the replies that they give?

Their responses often reveal that people are choosing you or your product for reasons completely removed from what you may have assumed. Some of the best UPSes I've ever seen were actually lifted almost verbatim from a customer's comment when asked, "What led you to do business with us?"

The rule of thumb is this: whatever motivates current customers to do business with you is also likely to motivate new clients to choose you in the future. So listen carefully to customer feedback and fashion your UPS accordingly.

Of course, when you are first starting a business, you don't have a pool of customers to draw on while fashioning your UPS. You must therefore construct your UPS on your best estimate of the customer value that your business will satisfy. Then, once your business is attracting clientele, start asking them why they chose to become a customer. Compare what they say to the assumptions that you made originally, and if appropriate, adjust the wording of your UPS.

Take Your Time, Do It Right

Now as simple as all of this sounds, constructing a UPS can be a daunting task. So don't rush the process. Boiling the thrust and essence of your business down to a single statement takes some reflection. And reflection takes time. If you need multiple working sessions over several weeks to get the language right, so be it. Developing the UPS well is far more important than developing it quickly.

Your UPS is fundamentally a description of the competitive advantage that customers recognize as distinguishing you from your competitors. The development of your UPS can be broken into a four-phase process:

  1. Analyzing your business competition
  2. Analyzing your customers
  3. Identifying your sustainable competitive advantage
  4. Capturing that sustainable competitive advantage in the draft language of your UPS

In Part 3 of this tutorial we will explore the first three of these phases. Then in Part 4 we will examine the fourth phase.

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