Today I’m looking at one of, if not the most important elements. This is an element that in my experience vendors often find the most difficult to define about their own offering. This is the “THAT PROVIDES [main benefit]” element. First some let’s look at how this element fits into the context of the complete positioning statement.
FOR [the ideal customer] WHO [has this specific pain or problem] OUR [product name] IS A[product category] THAT PROVIDES [this main benefit and reason to buy] UNLIKE [the primary alternative or competitor] OUR PRODUCT [has this unique selling proposition].
In my experience, this positioning element is often watered down so that it lacks any real convincing power. The purpose of the THAT PROVIDES element is to describe the main benefit that your product or service provides your customer. It details the value that your target customer can potentially derive and should be compelling enough to provide a reason for them to buy from you. Instead of this, I often see this element used as a place to add another ho-hum feature or an also-ran benefit. The question that should be asked is
“What benefit or value will compel the target customer to want to go through the process of buying from you?”
Whilst this is not a hard and fast rule, the THAT PROVIDES element is often paired with the WHO [has this specific pain or problem] element of the positioning statement. So that the WHO section sets up the main pain experienced by the target customer and the THAT PROVIDES section often outlines the solution or antidote to the pain.
It’s worth stressing one more time that the positioning process should produce a description of your overall approach to the market so that a target customer feels that you, and you alone a) understand their problem b) have the most compelling solution. Ideally, they should be left feeling that you went into business simply to solve their specific problem.
- THAT PROVIDES a reduction of up to 20% in data centre costs
- THAT PROVIDES a 15% reduction in the time to bring new products to market
- THAT PROVIDES complete alignment between corporate objectives and IT infrastructure
- THAT PROVIDES complete, accurate and timely visibility into corporate risk
The impact of this positioning element is improved dramatically If the benefit can quantified or at least expressed in detail.
There is often a temptation when creating this element to fill it full of technical features or justification. This is especially true of early market technology companies. Whilst it is a generally held rule that it is better to concentrate on what the product leaves behind (i.e. the benefit), it is OK to focus on the technical value of the product IF the target customer or at least the target audience within the target customer, is highly technically-focused.
(This section for those interested in the SOA and ESB market only…) I’m using an extract from one of Lustratus’ REPAMA reports to illustrate “real-world” positioning statements. Here I’ve reverse-engineered the positioning statement for Microsoft’s ESB
Guidance product. According to their outbound marketing, Microsoft sees the following as the main benefit they provide their target customer (BizTalk developers):
THAT PROVIDES an infrastructure for enabling service oriented architectures
This example falls into the “vanilla” category and certainly doesn’t really cut it as a compelling reason to buy. That said, for the target audience (technical) within the target customer (BizTalk Developers), it represents a clear and (albeit overtly technically) compelling proposition.
OK so that was the THAT PROVIDES section. In the next blog entry in this series I’ll be looking at the “UNLIKE [the primary alternative or competitor]” element. <More information can be found in the Lustratus REPAMA Guide here>
It should be borne in mind that Lustratus’ focus is on the high-tech software industry and whilst positioning as a concept will transfer to just about any business to business industry, many of the classifications we use assume that we’re dealing with a technical audience for infrastructure software. So please bear that in mind for your own industry.