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How To: Position Your Business With Power, Passion and Purpose

John Steinbeck on Story telling...
Gone are 60-second commercials and elevator speeches. Today, it’s all about positioning.

A good positioning statement quickly captures the attention of your listener and prompts him/her to elicit more information. It starts the conversation.

Unfortunately, few statements do that. Many focus on types of businesses or titles, leaving, “What do you do?” entirely up to interpretation. Instead, convey power and passion with a strong sense of purpose – what value do you offer?

Compelling positioning statements are particularly critical for small business.

Robert Bloom says it’s all about finding “your uncommon offering.” We call that the purpose – or what you deliver and why.

Yet, purpose alone is insufficient. Without also conveying power and passion, a positioning statement falls flat.

The best positioning statements:

  • Are action oriented (power) – not a static statement of facts.
  • Tell a story (passion) – link a few ideas together cohesively to create a visual picture of how you work.
  • Share a specific benefit (purpose) – not a product listing, but a BRIEF synthesis of results you deliver. That’s your “hook.”
  • Are simple and succinct (all three!) – easily conveyed in 30-60 seconds with no jargon.

A compelling positioning statement fits your style and personality. It feels natural when you say it. Don’t be afraid to draft, test, and edit to fit the circumstances or desired impact.

Here’s how:

  • State what you do and its benefit – How do you help?
  • Write a very short story to illustrate what you do for people or an organization – Paint a picture with words.
  • Specify your goal or objective – Do you want a referral, a sale?
  • Provide details to enhance credibility – What credentials resonate most with your listener?

Examples:

“We are a firm of lawyers who are hot shot refugees from big firm practice and the costs, rituals and impersonality attendant thereto. We efficiently solve client problems by hands-on close-in attendance to what ails. We seek referrals to deal with business, commercial and national security matters.” – Eisen & Shapiro.

“Do you know that managing internal technology infrastructure and support can be challenging for small and mid-sized organizations? We help organizations deal with that so they can focus on what they do best – practice law, run an association, whatever. Our services augment an existing IT team or completely replace it. We provide excellent service and make technology a strategic advantage for our small/mid-sized clients – usually those with 20-250 employees.” –  Optimal Networks.

And, always:

  1. Write a draft – don’t worry about eloquence – Focus on purpose.
  2. Break it down into parts – it’s just easier!
  3. Put the elements together and sit with it – Is it coherent and useful? What does it say about your business purpose?
  4. Highlight the best parts – What keywords express power? Where do you share your passion?
  5. Cut out all unnecessary words.
  6. Test it – If it doesn’t say exactly what you mean (purpose), convey power and passion, and elicit the response you want, return to Step 1!

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Image: Jill Clardy via Flickr, Creative Commons

Tara Rethore is president of M. Beacon Enterprises. For over 20 years, she has helped a variety of organizations to develop and articulate their strategic priorities and plans at multiple levels – enterprise-wide, country/region, function, operating unit. As an executive and a consultant, she’s learned how to combine high-level strategic thinking with hands-on experience of managing strategic plans. Tara earned an A.B. cum laude in Economics from Mount Holyoke College and an MBA from the University of Chicago.


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