While sharing this post topic with hubs, we both had to have a little giggle from our inner 7th graders (I give you permission to laugh if you so feel the urge). It sounds funny and dirty and overall amusing, but positioning from a business standpoint is actually a part of the foundation of your business.
I’ve talked before about a target market and how important knowing who you’re talking to is, but let’s get a little deeper into the nitty gritty. (Ya grossie ; ) ) Let’s dive in.
What Is Positioning?
Positioning in business is a culmination of how you place your products, services, your brand, or yourself on display to the world. This can mean from your content, to your packages, to the very message you are conveying. In fact, your positioning can elevate your products and services and establish you as an expert in your field.
I currently live in the Chicagoland area, but I am originally from Norfolk, VA. There would be times when The Great Dismal Swamp would get out of hand and they would perform what is called a controlled burn, or prescribed fire, which allowed the swamp to do what it would naturally do (burn) but in a way that suited the surrounding areas needs, such as overall safety of residents in that area.
Positioning is a lot like a controlled burn. It gives you the control over where you want your expertise to lie and decide how you want to show that to the world. Your controlled burn is all about strategy, just like the Dismal.
How You Position #AllTheThings
Positioning is applicable to everything you are putting out there, so #AllTheThings. There are steps to figuring out the story you are going to tell, the way you’re going to tell it, and what results that can yield. Now I know it might sound crazy to think that you can actually control your image and your expertise, but I promise you this; If you are continuously working toward your overarching goals of staying on brand and positioning yourself in a way that helps you attain those goals, eventually you are going to reach them.
So let’s talk steps.
- Determine where your value lies. This is kind of a polished up way of saying, “Know your strengths and weaknesses.” This is a vital part of positioning. You have to know where your expertise lies before trying to position yourself as an expert. Write out what you are amazing at. Write out what you aren’t amazing at. Be really, really honest with yourself here. Draw the line at amazing. Even if that is one thing, that is great because it gives you the opportunity to hone in on that one thing that you truly are an expert in.
- Decide what you want to be known for. If in step one, you found that you are only amazing at one thing, then you are one lucky bug. Finding a focal point for your positioning is super important and you are honestly not an expert in all the things. So choose that one thing that you are effing holy moly amazing at and run with it. Lucky bugs from step one can skip this one because they already have that one awesomesauce thing.
- Figure out how to convey that expertise. This one seems really simple, but it’s about more than just putting out into the world, “I’m a damn good social media manager” (this is an example. I suck at social.) Expertise is something that comes from one of two major options. First, being recognized as an influencer and innovator in your field. This is for the Brene Browns of the world or the Steve Jobs (R.I.P.) of the world. These people worked for years to establish their expertise and have the degrees, research, and resources that back that shit up. The second option is to let it grow. I talked earlier about a controlled burn. This is where that comes into play. Light that fire with content, all the best content, for free and establish a trust. Share that you are a valuable person by showing that value.
- Tell your story. Brene Brown didn’t become Brene Brown because she decided one morning three days ago that she wanted to. She established herself by putting in a decade of research, sharing how vulnerable she is, and sharing that she is by far not perfect. She establishes her personality rather than conveying a holier than thou attitude. Frankly speaking, you can be giving away the best info out there, but if you’re not weaving your story (you have one, don’t even say it) and your peopleness into your content, your not establishing the trust that gets you that expert status.
- Ask for what you want. This weekend, I was listening to the Stuff Mom Never Told You Podcast (love those ladies and loved this episode) and while just playing it on random, I heard the most incredible definition and differentiation between aggressiveness and assertiveness. According to Emilie Aries of Bossed Up, (simplified for writing sake) assertive behavior is expressing what you want and need while keeping the wants and needs of others in mind while asking for it. Aggressive behavior is asking for what you want or need without any regard for the wants and needs of others. It is a-ok to ask for what you want. It is a-ok to be assertive. Remember your empathy, and asking for what you want is not only acceptable, but perfectly reasonable.
How To Keep Out The Ick
Like most of marketing, positioning can be icky. It’s all about using your powers for good, not evil. Today, people are far more likely to buy from people than they are from business. Like a lot more likely. And being icky, you get spotted a mile away and people don’t like it. So here are a few tips to keep ick out.
- Watch your mouth. I know, swearing is a hot topic right now, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the conversations that you are having with your community. I’m talking about the way you say things rather than what you are actually saying. You don’t want to be that “slimey” sounding person. Be real with people. Tell them what you are good at and why they need you.
- Be honest. This ties directly into number one. Honesty is the best policy. If you don't’ know something, don’t act like you do. If you don’t have the product in stock because you binged on Netflix, don’t say you do. Honesty goes a long way when it comes to staving off the ick.
- Gut check early and often. I’m not saying you should listen to that little voice in your head that's telling you to hold off on launching because you’re not ready or because you’re not good enough. I’m talking about checking in with yourself and asking if what you are doing for your business aligns with your values and what you want to convey.
Positioning Is A Complex Beast
Positioning yourself and your business is no easy feat. What I’ve written here is a broad strokes introduction to the concept.
If you’d like to know more about positioning in your market, let me know in the comments! I’d love to get further into it. Until next time!