Putting your positioning into practice: Three common pitfalls

road sign with arrow pointing right

In Vincent Cheung’s previous two entries on Positioning, he briefly discussed why forward-looking marketers are feeling the urgency now, more than ever, to refresh their positioning, and the importance of knowing yourself and your competition before building your Positioning Prism.

As a quick reminder, Pragmatic’s approach to a positioning roadmap comprises these five key steps:

positioning roadmap infographic

We’ve now reached the last leg of the Positioning journey and in this third entry, I’ll touch on three common pitfalls to avoid when developing your Positioning Statement, supporting Pillars and Messaging Hierarchy.

Pitfall #1: Lack of Differentiation

Despite the focus and rigor required in the development of the Positioning Prism, there is a tendency to undervalue key learnings gleaned throughout the initial steps. Instead of honing in on the unique qualities and characteristics that were identified as being most valued by your customers, extraneous elements are re-inserted into the Positioning development in an attempt to ‘be all, for all’… which results in a watered down and undifferentiated Positioning Statement.

While it’s certainly acceptable to iterate throughout the process, it’s equally important to know when to stand firm. Resist the urge to add ingredients into the recipe that are not meaningful in establishing a refreshed Positioning and fear not, there will be an opportunity to refine at a later date (more on that in Pitfall #3).

Pitfall #2: Failure to Turn Outward

After deliberating (agonizing?) in earnest about the refreshed Positioning across your internal teams, it’s no surprise that there is a hesitancy to turn outward in the final step of developing the messaging hierarchy. After all, the steps leading to – and the Positioning Statement itself – are all considered internal-facing. But it’s imperative that the Messaging Hierarchy and accompanying primary and secondary messages resonate with your customer. Not your stakeholder committee. And I don’t mean avoiding corporate vernacular (though you should definitely be mindful of that as well). Remember, you embarked on this endeavor because of a desire to be more customer-centric. As such, messaging should synthesize the revamped Positioning around specific audience benefits and be supported by reasons-to-believe.

Pitfall #3: “Set-it-and-forget-it”

As forward-looking marketers can attest, a “test and learn” mentality is vital to the success of all marketing efforts. Indeed, the same holds true with a Positioning Refresh. In lieu of being a discrete, one-off exercise, it is instead an ongoing journey… one that requires maintenance and regular assessments.

Think annual health physical.
A tune-up for your vehicle.
A recurring teeth cleaning with your dental hygienist.

More often than not, these check-ups are a simple fine-tuning exercise and/or diagnostic to ensure your health (or automobile) is not veering too off course. But they can also pre-emptively illuminate any causes for concern… even if it feels like nothing has changed.

Recognize when it’s time for your “route refresh”. Stay vigilant in your focus to be customer-centric and ensure you remain relevant with your customers. If 2020 brought many changes your way, it’s likely it has for your customers as well. Let us know how we can help!

Yuri Kim|October 22, 2020

Looking for more?
Check out our archive!

Interested in joining us? We're always looking for talented new team members. Check out our jobs page.