“Who are you, who who who who?”

– Pete Townshend

Who are you? A philosophical question, it seems, one that may take a lifetime to answer. Businesses, however, don’t have a lifetime to figure out who they are, there is not enough cash flow for that. In the business world, the question of ‘who are you’ is answered through an organization’s positioning statement.

In 1972, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout introduced the concept of ‘positioning’ to market planning. Positioning is the mindshare your company wants in the marketplace, what your company wants to represent, relative to competitors. Companies that stay focused and execute on a strong positioning statement are often the companies that build and sustain success. Marketers are familiar with the 4 P’s – product, price, place and promotion. A good positioning statement will guide business leaders to most effectively implement the 4P’s.

“Pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.”

Most people remember the company who introduced this slogan – Domino’s Pizza. Domino’s positioning statement would have read something like this: Domino’s Pizza provides fresh, hot pizza, delivered fast to our customer’s door. Notice there is nothing in this statement about ‘high quality’ or ‘tasty’ or ‘authentic New York’ or even ’cheap.’ That was not Domino’s positioning. If you wanted tasty, authentic New York pizza, you go to the local pizza shop owned by the guy from Brooklyn. There are also places to get cheap pizza, including frozen pizza from the supermarket. Domino’s is about getting pizza to your door, fast, at your convenience. In getting pizza delivered fast, the customer might also infer the pizza is going to be ‘fresh’ and ‘hot’.

Dominos1Over time, Domino’s has adapted it’s slogan, to ‘The Pizza Delivery Experts’; however, the positioning statement remains the same.

Domino’s does not tell customers it offers delicious, authentic NY style pizza, because it doesn’t.

Positioning is not about making things up; rather it is about articulating your unique value and differentiation to the market, grounded by the reality of your product. If you are struggling to establish a strong positioning statement for your product, then you might need to go back and fix your product.

(For a marketing person, positioning is a fascinating topic. I will continue this blog theme later in the week using a more recent product example, one that that goes great with pizza……vodka).