Your positioning brief or strategy brief is many times more powerful than any of your day-to-day assignment-focused creative briefs. This is because instead of just informing or guiding a single marketing initiative, we are working at the company level to forge greater pathways of connection. Every downstream piece of communications now has a platform to run on, if you will.
First, be something. Then, say something. (Then, add difference, dimension and depth to your position with complete 360° brand discovery by a brand strategist.)
Brand ultimately sits atop position, but too many skip this critical step. It is far more important to know your strategic position and only then, perhaps, to assess whether there are previously unconsidered opportunities to build a stronger brand on top of it. Whatever the specific message, who that message is coming from matters greatly. The vast problem we see these days are companies running on promotion or brand alone. Neither will endure for the long haul. Knowing your position, making sure it’s the right one and reinforcing that differentiated position consistently and at every turn are the muscles behind your marketing budget. Keep healthy. Stay fit.
Some of the questions a marketing consultant, positioning consultant or content strategist asks to ensure you are building your marketing house on a solid foundation:
- Does your Unique Selling Proposition accurately and precisely capture why targets should care? In this way, greater focus for your marketing actually serves to create greater focus for the company as a whole.
- What three things render your market unique? If you are concerned that your business isn’t niche-oriented, this is an opportunity to carve out a niche based upon unique target needs or other demographic or psycho-graphic elements.
- Of course, we are going to examine the competitor positioning and messaging. But I am often able to bring new energy to the proceedings, and to the company as a whole, by asking the question in terms of competitive forces. What is preventing us from achieving our sales objectives and what is preventing us from connecting with our targets are two much more profound questions that help me steer my brand marketing and brand messaging clients in the right direction.
- Have you demonstrated the pure courage it takes to have your SWOT exercise or your list of First’s, Best’s, Most’s & Only’s by a fresh, objective, high-energy perspective?
- When we assess “who the company is” for the purposes of tightening up your positioning, we focus primarily on the target’s end-game, with the company being defined as the sole deliverer of these specific benefits. What are they thinking, feeling and doing post-consumption of the marketing message and post-transaction? (We judiciously save the bigger picture investigations into beliefs, culture and brand personality for brand work, wherein they can be more precisely reverse-engineered for greater enduring value.)
- If you are dissatisfied with either a) the creative work coming your way or b) the performance of your marketing in general, odds are very good that the disconnects and inefficiencies aren’t happening at a superficial level. Chances are also quite good that some solid positioning and brand messaging diagnostics will put you on a path to greater impact, greater resonance and a more effective, enduring target connection strategy.
What separates a great marketing consultant or positioning consultant from the also-rans?
It’s not that the questions that one marketing consultant asks or that one book invites you to ask are all that fundamentally different. What matters is that you’re working with someone who can very quickly get up to speed on the various elements of juice running through your business model, rapidly identify those areas where you are already strong and clear, and focus his/her attention around those cornerstone positioning and messaging issues wherein you are most likely to receive the biggest value.
As mentioned in the blog post on creative briefs, but it is yet more critical at the company’s strategic positioning level, you need to be working with someone who possesses enough experience to be able to trace the creative trajectory of any given point, notion or stipulation in the brief, sufficient tact and diplomacy to know where and when to probe more deeply and challenge the assumptions, but also enough instinct and confidence to know that an ounce of prevention in your company’s fundamental positioning is worth a pound of post-marketing cure. Time and money spent chasing incremental performance, paid to outside media outlets and agencies, is time and money you should be investing right into your own company. An increased internal understanding of how to better connect with more customers so that they will part with more of their money is invaluable. Follow the money.