Positioning vs Messaging vs Value Proposition

Exceptional sales and marketing strategies require a clear definition of a brand’s position in the market, its messaging strategy, and the company’s unique value proposition. Unfortunately, these terms often get confused as businesses race to make themselves stand out. Here’s what you need to know about positioning, messaging, and value proposition.

What is Positioning?

In sales and marketing, the term “positioning” was pioneered by Al Reis, who argued that advertising wasn’t about just telling the public exactly what your product did. Rather, Reis believed the key was to establish an all-important presence in the customer’s mind.

Positioning in this context isn’t about what you do to a product to make it different, but how you alter the mind or perception of your prospect to change how they feel about your solution. It’s about placing your product in the mind of a customer and creating a perceived image or identity as a result.

The rationale is that with good positioning, it doesn’t matter what your product does, but what your customers think or feel about it. Usually, positioning is expressed relative to your competitors, and what they can offer.
For instance, Keurig, the coffee machine maker has positioned itself as a pioneer in technology and leading manufacturer of gourmet-style brewing systems. Alternatively, Starbucks’ Mazagran, a cold instant coffee drink which preceded the Frappuccino, had no prior positioning, so it failed to capture the attention of its audience.

What is Messaging?

Messaging is about what you actually say to your audience. You can send a number of messages to help craft your position, but it’s important not to overwhelm your audience with too much information. Every message needs to be carefully chosen for a marketing campaign to work, and it must be rooted in the positioning of the brand.

Zoom’s messaging includes phrases like “built for modern teams” and “simplified video”, highlighting the pioneering nature of the brand, while Microsoft Teams uses messaging like “Connect with your team anywhere”, to make the technology feel accessible.

The best messaging should be original, truthful, and straight to the point, like Nike’s “Just do it”, to demonstrate passion and encouragement. Keep the language simple and speak from the customer’s point of view where possible to create a connection.

What is a Value Proposition?

A value proposition describes the unique service your product can offer. A personal value proposition would define what a specific person could offer. Think of your value proposition as the overarching promise your company makes to your customers.

Value propositions should be short, clear, and straight to the point – the ultimate elevator pitch. They communicate exactly what your customer is going to get, and why that’s good. For instance, Slack’s value proposition is “Be more productive with less effort”. Zendesk had “Keep it beautifully simple”.

To be as effective as possible, your value proposition should describe clearly how your solution solves a specific problem, the benefits the customer can get exclusively from you, and why clients should buy from you instead of your competition.

The Difference:

Ultimately, value proposition, messaging, and positioning are all essential parts of a strong sales and marketing strategy, but they each play a different purpose. While each of these factors are connected, they all have their own role to play in gaining customers.

Your positioning is how you place your product, service, or brand in the minds of your customers. It’s what clients should think and feel about your company.

Messaging is what you tell your audience to help solidify your position in their minds. It’s how you convey the special elements of your business and convince your customers that you have the solution to whatever problem they might have.

Your value proposition is why your solution is better than anything else on the market. It identifies what you can do for your customer, and why your offer is more effective than anything else available from competitive companies.

Working together, these three pillars form the foundation of what differentiates your brand in your chosen industry, and delivers a memorable brand identity. Every marketing strategy and sales effort should be crafted with the same focus on brand positioning, messaging, and value proposition.

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