Positioning your product so it stands out and customers buy it!

Growth Compass
5 min readDec 18, 2020

Speaker Summary and Takeaways from our chat with April Dunford

November 26, 2020

In our latest keynote, we had the opportunity to hear from positioning expert April Dunford. April has 25 years of experience working for both start-up and well-established companies. Through her journey, she has positioned, re-positioned, and launched 16 major products! Her best-selling book “Obviously Awesome” entertainingly details the methodology she has created behind product positioning, and we received a first-hand experience of this valuable knowledge. Here we summarize our three key takeaways.

❔ What is Positioning?

Whether you are in a start-up, small business, or working for an established corporation, understanding the importance of product positioning can make or break the success of your company. However, as April states, “it is an extremely misunderstood topic.”

Your positioning statement is not your tagline, nor your messaging. Don’t get it confused with brand positioning because branding and positioning are two completely different entities. Using an analogy, think of Marketing and Sales as the ‘house’ and Positioning as the ‘foundation’ on which the house is built on.

Positioning defines how your product is the best in the world at providing something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.

To further illustrate, April recounted the opening scene in a well-known movie. The opening scene orients you to where you are and what’s going on. It helps set the mood and give you the bearings and helps provide the context to allow the audience to understand what they need to pay attention to, just as your positioning statement should for your target customers.

❔ Why is Positioning Important?

We use market categories to help us determine what to pay attention to and how different products compare to one another. If you position your product correctly in the market, it sets off a set of assumptions that people can deem as true, creating less work for the marketing and sales team as they can spend less time trying to convince customers to buy the product or use the service. In turn, the opposite is also true. If you position your product incorrectly, assumptions are made that are incorrect, causing the marketing and sales teams to have to try and undo the damage that has resulted from confused and unconvinced buyers.

This event can be illustrated by the following example:

Original Positioning: A company creates a program to help lawyers communicate with each other. They have positioned themselves as a lawyer emailing service. They are competing with email giant, Gmail. However, they do not have a calendar function and charge a fee to use their platform.

Alternative Positioning: The company repositions their product from email for lawyers to team collaboration for lawyers. They are no longer competing with Gmail, but smaller companies such as Slack, which users typically pay a fee for!

❔ How do we Position Our Ourselves Correctly?

There are two important aspects to consider when positioning yourself in the market; Position Deliberately and Follow a Process.

Position Deliberately:

To position deliberately, you must be conscious of your actions and think about them deeply. When you are receiving zero traction in your marketing actions and you don’t understand why you aren’t attracting anyone, this may be due to incorrect positioning. Repositioning can often change the conversations happening with your customers, influence new customers, and create more success overall.

Follow a Process:

April has broken down the process into five components that help us better determine the correct positioning for our products and services:

Although separated, all of these components connect with each other in true synergy.

For example, take your company’s value. The unique value you deliver to customers is related to your unique attributes. However, these are only unique when they are compared to your competitors. The best-fit customers are the ones who care the most about what unique value you can deliver and the best market category is the context weaved around the product that makes the value obvious to your customer segments!

April suggests breaking down the components in the order above to get the best and fastest results. The real positioning process is as follows:

  1. Determine who the Competitive Alternatives are. → Who do you have to beat?
  2. What are your unique attributes? → What do you have that they don’t have?
  3. These unique features translate into value → The ‘so what’ for your customers
  4. Discover your customer segments. → Who cares the most about your value?
  5. What is your market category that makes this value, the most obvious to your customer segments?

Once finished, you can reconnect these components to create the ultimate positioning statement!

Final Takeaways

Through April’s unique framework and a thoughtful presentation, viewers were sure to gain a completely new understanding of the term ‘positioning’, the importance behind correct positioning, and how to best position their products!

About the Speaker

Globally recognized expert in product positioning and market strategy April Dunford is the author of the best-selling book “Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get it, Buy it, Love it”. April Dunford has 25 years of experience working as a startup executive, running marketing, product, and sales teams. She led teams at seven successful B2B technology startups, has positioned and repositioned, and has launched 16 products.

April has developed her very own systematic way of positioning technology products and companies. As a consultant, she has had the privilege of working with more than 100 companies, allowing her to go even deeper and broaden her positioning expertise.

About the Growth & Resiliency Speaker Series

The Growth & Resiliency Speaker Series is brought to you by the Growth Catalyst program in collaboration with Alberta Innovates, the province’s innovation engine. The Speaker Series is supported in part by the Government of Canada, as part of the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

To learn more, watch previous keynotes, or to preview what’s coming next, visit us on: https://www.growthcatalyst.ca/speaker-series

About the Growth Catalyst Program

Led by Mount Royal University’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the Growth Catalyst is an intensive program designed to spark the creation and set the foundation for executing a growth strategy by CEOs and their senior leadership teams.

To learn more about the program and apply, visit us at: www.growthcatalyst.ca

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Growth Compass

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