Positioning 101 (made simple)

Does your positioning need to be fixed?

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Hey there - it's Brian 👋

Confession time.

I’m obsessed with positioning.

But people don’t talk about it (because no one understands it).

Yet… It’s the single biggest factor that determines whether your business will survive (or fail).

So I’ll make it simple:

It’s just a fancy word for “does my business model make sense?”

Today we’ll talk about:

• Why bad positioning can wreck your business (& how it stays hidden)
• How you can tell if your positioning is good (or bad)
• How you fix it

I specialized in positioning at Deloitte.

We’d spend months just creating a positioning before we built a business.

Or we’d re-position a business that wasn’t working.

If you’re wondering why your business isn’t getting the traction you expect, this is for you.

Let’s make your business an outlier: 👇

What is positioning?

In 2019 CEO of a $1B bank called us. Frustrated.

His promotion was on the line. He promised he’d make his company $300M.

But it wasn’t happening.

He had one year to turn it around.

This bank was owned by one of the biggest banks in the world. If he can turn it around, he’s next in line to be CEO of the parent company.

Miss it? Well there’s only one CEO role. He’d never get this shot again.

He risked it all on launching new products. But these products weren’t working out.

So he called us. “Can you help me get my business to actually work?”

We set foot in his board room, listed out all their products, and found a big problem:

Their positioning didn’t make sense.

So we held workshops with their executives and fixed their positioning.

Re-launched the products.


Well today you’d recognize him from his TV appearances.

We hit his target.

But who cares? You’re not a $1B company is this still relevant?


See positioning is just making sure your business model makes sense!

It comes down to answering 3 simple questions for your product/service:

  1. Who’s your customer?

  2. What’s their pain?

  3. How do you solve that pain better than anyone?

Get it wrong and customers don’t feel your business is for them.

Get it right and you’ll have customers lined up to buy because they feel it resonates with them.

So let’s get into it:

How can you tell if you have bad positioning?

The reason that business owners don’t understand if they have good positioning is because you only see symptoms of it.

• Customers leave fast? People think it’s an onboarding problem.
• Your landing page doesn’t sell? People think it’s a copywriting problem.
• Your ads don’t sell? People think it’s a problem with the visual.

And sometimes it is.

But sometimes it’s a business model problem. So you need to fix your positioning.

Positioning is the foundation of sales and marketing.

Get the foundation wrong and everything you do has friction.

Bad positioning means customers will not value your business as much as you need them to.

You want them to quickly see what makes you so valuable to solve their problem.

You’ll charge more. Get customers faster. And they’ll stay longer.

Sounds like a dream, right?

Okay so how do you know if your positioning is bad?

Here’s my own test:

Is your solution the best option to solve a specific pain for a specific person?

If I don’t clearly see this, then the customers can’t see it either.

So what happens when they can’t see it?

Symptoms of bad positioning look like:

  1. Do your customers take too long to buy?

  2. Do customers pressure you too much on price?

  3. Do customers leave quickly?

  4. How do customer explain what they like about you? (Is it consistent? All over the place? In line with what you expect?)

All of this is because they don’t understand how valuable your offer is. The better your positioning the higher customer perceive your value!

If I can’t quickly understand what helps you solve a problem for a specific person, AND there’s a problem with traction, then I assume there’s a positioning problem.

Okay so your positioning needs work. What can you do to fix it?

The end result is a simple framework with 3 questions (you’ve seen this before):

Here’s the steps to build your solid positioning:

Step 1: Who’s your customer

1) Who’s your customer?

Businesses solve customer problems.

This is that customer.

You need to deeply understand who this person is and what they need.

Here’s a few questions to get you thinking about which of your customers you focus on:
• Who loves your product/service the most?
• Do you have one type of customer you make the most money from?
• Who recommends you more to their friends?

Typically you break out your customers by who they are:
• Industry
• Company size
• Geography

If you’re B2C you can use customer avatars like the one below:

Example avatar

Understand who your target customer is better than anyone.

Step 2: What’s their pain?

Your business solves a specific pain.

Your business will win if you can persuade customers that you understand that pain and can solve it for them.

So talk to your customers!

Ask them questions to better understand their problem:

1) "What's the hardest thing about [doing this thing]?"
2) "Tell me about the last time you encountered that problem?"
3) "Why was that hard?"
4) "What, if anything, have you done to solve the problem?"
5) "What don't you love about the solutions you've tried?"

The business that wins is the one who understands the customer pain better than anyone.

Thanks to Y Combinator for those questions.

Step 3: How do you solve that pain better than anyone?

Goal here is to take your deep understanding of a specific customer’s pain, and align them to your strengths.

So this way, no one can take care of your customer as well as you can.

A few questions to get you thinking:

  • What do customers love about you?

  • What can you do 10x better?

  • What do you do differently?

The more narrow you’ve defined your problem or customer, the easier it is to stand out.

Fix your positioning to explode your business


If you do positioning right customers will see you as MORE valuable.

The more valuable they see you the easier it gets to sell. The more excited they are to stay. The more recommend you to others.

That’s when you really start to grow your business.

And that’s why I’m so obsessed with positioning.

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See you next Thursday 👋

P.S. Do you run a management consulting practice over $3M in revenue?

I’ll give you free feedback on your positioning & marketing strategy. Then hand you next steps to become a thought leader in your space.

Interested? Reply to this email with “consulting”.

Chat soon 👋

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