Articles that empower you to make your brand stonger.

Positioning, or: How you should learn to stop worrying and love saying no
Richard Rissanen

man in a spacesuit

What is positioning? Positioning is what your business does, who for, and what makes it different from other businesses. A positioning statment is a sentence or two that encapsulates the answer to those questions.


I make brands stronger for small and medium sized businesses using research driven branding.

What do I do? I make brands stronger. Who do I do it for? Small and medium sized businesses. What makes me different? I use research to drive branding.


I do _______ for ________ unlike others I _______.

How does this help your business?

Positioning allows consumers to identify if they’re your ideal customer. They know if your business is right for them, if they are part of your target audience (who you do it for), and if they need your offering (what you do). Don’t make a consumer think about this. If your positioning is not obvious, consumers will go somewhere else, where they identify as being ideal customers. Your positioning statement should be prominent on your website and in your marketing. Consumers want this; it helps reassure them that you are right for what they need. To convert more consumers to customers, they need this reassurance.

Positioning helps you focus. A positioning statement draws a line in the sand for your business. Without positioning, it is difficult to determine the cohesiveness of your offerings. With positioning, when working on a new offering, you only have to reference back to your positioning statement: if your positioning and offering are not complementary, drop the offering. Everything your business does should reinforce your positioning. You don’t want to be perceived as sending mixed messages because you have an offering that differs from your position. If an offering doesn’t fit, say no, and get rid of it.

When you write a positioning statement, it becomes simple to identify customers’ needs. This is because proper positioning dictates that you must have a target customer. This in turn makes it easier to write marketing materials for this target customer. You only have to speak to those that are within your positioning statement. This gives you an advantage to companies who try to market to everyone. If everyone is important, then no one is important; this is how you dilute your marketing message. Marketing to everyone is indicative of weak positioning and/or hedging due to a fear of committing to a position. Say no to being weak, and say no to hedging.

Won’t I be turning down customers? Who turns down business?

Many business owners are afraid of positioning. They think it means turning down business and leaving money on the table. They are only half right: positioning does require you to say no, but only to consumers that do not fit your position. These consumers are not a good fit for your position, so they are not a good fit for your business. Done right, positioning ends up making you more money, by establishing you as the go-to provider for your position. Delivering a quality offering for target customers builds trust and strengthens your business in their mind. This leads to more return customers and referrals. Saying no to some consumers builds you up in the mind of others.

Learning to say no has many other benefits. “No” strengthens your authority with consumers because you do not cave just to make a buck. This is like someone that stands by their morals in a compromising situation. Consumers will respect you more for saying no. Turning down work can even lead to more work. If you are asked to do something outside of your position, and you decline, referencing your positioning, that is impactful. The next time someone brings up a need in line with your position to that person, they will remember you, and, if your positioning is strong enough, even suggest your business.

Specialization is key. Think about it: we use specialists every day. We call a plumber when need pipes replaced. We call an electrician when we need new wiring. We go to the grocery store when we want groceries and a Mexican restaurant when we want tacos. I don’t know about you, but to me, tacos always taste better from a Mexican restaurant than T.G.I. Fridays.


Niche Hard
Richard Rissanen

man looking at lights

Many small businesses fail to narrow their niche due to fear. Often their concern is that marketing to one niche will be turning away business from anyone not in it. It’s true; when you market to a specified niche, you do end up turning away some business. However, the gains you get from being focused on an niche outweigh the negligible losses. Narrowing your niche strengthens your message and deepens your knowledge of your target market.

How does narrowing you niche strengthen your marketing message?

You empower your message by having a clear audience to speak to. Without a niche, you have to speak to everyone. If everyone is important, then no one is important; you dilute your message this way. If a car company sells to everyone, it could say, “We build cars for everyone: safety, speed, economy, and luxury are what we do.” But a sports car company would say, “With a racing pedigree second to none, we develop cars that are responsive and fast, for when you need them to be, or just because.” The sports car company’s message resonates with its audience. This is because it doesn’t have to please everyone; they only have to please customers that want fast and responsive cars. The “everyone” car company has opposing values. People tend to associate speed with danger, so how can it be safe? Those who would buy a luxury vehicle don’t want the word economy associated with their car; economy is another word for cheap. Rewriting the “everyone” car company’s positioning statement would not appeal to everyone. To appeal to some you must detract from others. Remember, if everyone is important, then no one is important; you dilute your message this way.

How does narrowing your niche deepen knowledge?

Being focused on a niche allows a small business to learn their customers’ needs. You no longer have to appeal to everyone: all of your marketing efforts can gauge against a single audience. Through marketing and talking to this audience, you will be able to identify what works and what doesn’t. This will provide invaluable insights that deepen your knowledge. Leveraging these insights will further engage your audience and reveal more insights. It’s cyclical: the more your learn about your audience, the more you can engage them, and the more you will learn from them.

Niche Numbers

A strengthened message and deepened knowledge of your target market are results of having a niche. Resonating your message with your customers is paramount to increased engagement. Marketing to everyone dilutes you message and decreases the effectiveness of marketing. Porsche makes twenty-three times what Ford does per car. Yes, some of that is paying a premium, but Porsche positioned themselves as a premium product, and targeted a niche that was willing to pay that premium.


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