May 14, 2019
My Positioning Book Launches Today

My book on product positioning launches today! I’m really happy to finally get this book into people’s hands.

The book took me 2 years to write but it’s been decades in the making. The idea goes back to when I was a new Engineering grad working at a startup (long before startups were cool).

The power of positioning

At that first startup, I worked on a project to reposition a product from a lightweight personal database to an embeddable database for mobile devices. Our growth exploded, and the company was acquired. My eyes were opened to the power of positioning.

After a couple of years at the big company, I moved to the next startup. We repositioned that product too – from an enterprise CRM to a CRM for investment banks. Big growth followed again and we were acquired for $1.3B. I realized that positioning could be was the most powerful growth tool I had at a startup.

My career spanned a series of 7 startups and 6 large companies. Over time, launched 16 products into the market. We repositioned every single one at some point.

My marketing education (and the missing piece)

I worried I might be missing a basic marketing education early in my career, so I read stacks of marketing books and took dozens of courses. I learned a lot but one thing really bugged me – why didn’t we learn how to do positioning?

Although positioning is considered to be the starting point of almost everything we do in marketing and sales (it defines our competition, differentiated value, target segments) there didn’t seem to be a process for actually DOING it.

At least not one that made sense. I learned how to do “A Positioning Statement”. The “process” is a laughably vague fill in the blanks exercise that relies on a magic combination of voodoo and intuition to choose what market you should be positioned in. It offended my engineering sensibilities.

It was clear to me that every product could be positioned in multiple different markets. What wasn’t clear was how we choose the best one. Surely we don’t just write down whatever pops into our heads?

We Need a Positioning Process

I decided to start by breaking positioning down into its component parts. Those parts are competitive alternatives, unique capabilities, differentiated value, target customers, market category. These are essentially the “blanks” of a positioning statement. Find the best answer for each and voila, you’ve got great positioning

Thinking about how you would determine each of these, I realized the components have a relationship with each other. The product value depends on its capabilities. Product capabilities are only “differentiated” when compared to alternatives.

I developed my own process for doing positioning. I used it as an executive running marketing at startups, and later I taught startups how to do it in workshops and group classes. The process became more refined (and battle-tested by skeptical startup founders).

I transitioned to consulting, focused only on positioning work. My work aligns the executive team around how their product should be positioned. This includes determining the differentiated value, best target segments, most advantageous market category and a sales story that makes it all clear for new prospects.

However, some companies are too far away for me to work with (sorry, Australia), and my calendar is just too darn full to work with everybody. I decided to write the process down and let it loose on the world.

The result is this book, and today, for the price of a beer (or a cheap bottle of wine if you prefer paperback), you can buy it. The book is available on Amazon or wherever you like to order books. I really hope you find it useful.