How to Write Market Positioning Statements

Your organization is gearing up to launch a new product or service, or enter a new market. You’re on the marketing team. You’re familiar with the details of these new endeavors; you know your customers. Where do you start? (The following guide is an excerpt from my Marketing Strategy certificate.)

Start with the positioning statement.

A positioning statement is a concise description of your target market as well as a compelling picture of how you want that market to perceive your brand. Though it may read like something from your promotional materials, your positioning statement is an internal tool. Every product and marketing decision you make regarding your brand has to align with and support your positioning statement. A good positioning statement is a guidepost for your marketing efforts. It helps you maintain focus on your brand and its value proposition while you work on market strategy and tactics.

Guidelines for Good Positioning Statements

What makes a good positioning statement? Here are six keys to keep in mind:

  1. It is simple, memorable, and tailored to the target market.
  2. It provides an unmistakable and easily understood picture of your brand that differentiates it from your competitors.
  3. It is credible, and your brand can deliver on its promise.
  4. Your brand can be the sole occupier of this particular position in the market. You can “own” it.
  5. It helps you evaluate whether or not marketing decisions are consistent with and supportive of your brand.
  6. It leaves room for growth.

Template for Writing a Positioning Statement

Here’s a basic template for writing a positioning statement:

For [insert Target Market], the [insert Brand] is the [insert Point of Differentiation] among all [insert Frame of Reference] because [insert Reason to Believe].

  • The point of differentiation (POD) describes how your brand or product benefits customers in ways that set you apart from your competitors.
  • The frame of reference (FOR) is the segment or category in which your company competes.
  • The reason to believe is just what it says. This is a statement providing compelling evidence and reasons why customers in your target market can have confidence in your differentiation claims.

The wording of your positioning statement doesn’t have to match this template exactly, but to be effective, it must contain the five main components in brackets above. Occasionally, a positioning statement will contain a point of parity, when it is central to a product’s positioning.

Above all, your point of differentiation, frame of reference, and reason to believe must be meaningful, important, and convincing to your customers, not just to your company.

Examples of Great Positioning Statements

The following positioning statement was used by in 2001, when it sold books almost exclusively:

For World Wide Web users who enjoy books, is a retail bookseller that provides instant access to over 1.1 million books. Unlike traditional book retailers, provides a combination of extraordinary convenience, low prices, and comprehensive selection.

Our fictitious company, Underfoot Industries, has decided to pursue two target markets: schools and light commercial customers. These are distinct market segments whose customers rate their needs differently, so the company must develop two positioning statements:

For schools, the Underfoot Industries EverAwesome line is the strongest, most durable carpet among all commercial-grade carpets for organizations on a budget, because it is made using our patented SteelTwist technology. The EverAwesome line features Underfoot Industries’ patented technology for producing high-strength, low-wear carpets. Underfoot named its production technology “SteelTwist” to appeal to customers, such as schools, who place a very high value on carpet strength.

For today’s appearance-conscious business, the Underfoot Industries EverAwesome line is the carpet that stays new-looking longest among all commercial-grade carpets. Our patented technology produces durable, low-wear carpet whose lifetime cost is 40-80% lower than other brands. The brand name “EverAwesome” tells customers: “This carpet looks great, AND it will last a long time.”

If this guide to market positioning statements has helped you guide your marketing strategy, I highly recommend you learn more about the Marketing Strategy certificate I teach through eCornell. It covers communicating the value of your brand in more detail as well as marketing research and analysis, distribution strategy, decision-making, and new media marketing.

Update: Thanks to the immense popularity of this post and all the great feedback we have received, we created a free Market Positioning Statement generator. Simply plug in a few pieces of information, hit submit and get your statement in 30 seconds! It’s time to take your business to the next level- check it out here.

Asking the Right Questions is Your Smartest Investment

The success of any organization—whether private corporation or philanthropic foundation—begins with a clear understanding of customers and their needs. If you want to make an impact in your organization, regardless of your current role, this knowledge is essential. How can you make the right business and career decisions if you don’t understand your company, its products, its market position, and its value to customers?

What they say is true: It’s really all about marketing.

Or, more precisely, creating and sustaining a competitive advantage for your organization is all about cultivating the marketing mentality. The first step? Understanding the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of marketing strategy, and how these are linked to your business and role.

Asking the Right Questions: The Three-Level Map

The first level of the map is the foundation of our marketing strategy. Here, we’re asking “What’s the general situation, the corporate and strategic context in which we’re making marketing decisions?”

At the second level, we use the S-T-P framework (segmentation, targeting, positioning) to narrow our focus to address specific marketing strategy issues. The answers to these questions form your overall marketing strategy:

  • “How do we segment, or break up, the market?”
  • “Given our strategic position in the marketplace, the strategic issues facing our company, and the opportunities available to us, what target market or target markets are most attractive for us?”
  • How do we position ourselves in the marketplace to those target customers, against the competition, to best meet their needs?

The third level of our map is where we execute our marketing strategy by using the four Ps—product, price, place (distribution), and promotion:

  • These tactics must fit together within one coherent strategy in order to deliver your market positioning to your target customers.
  • Strategic pricing is the tactic that most directly impacts your bottom line—not only in terms of being able to attract customers and deliver value, but also in terms of profitability.

Making Better Business Decisions

Even though you may not set market position or pricing in your role, you’re still executing on some facet of your organization’s marketing strategy. To be successful, cultivate a marketing mentality to ensure you’re asking the right questions, making the best possible business decisions, and aligning your activities to the big picture. Becoming fluent in marketing concepts and tools isn’t just a business elective; it’s a necessary, worthwhile investment for you and your organization.


Turning the Product Lifecycle Framework Around on Itself

The Product Lifecycle (PLC) framework draws controversy proportional to its use — and it gets used everywhere. Anytime a new product category gets introduced into the market, PLC predicts it will follow a pattern. Gauged only by the time it takes to move through each of four steps in the pattern, it allows marketers to estimate a product’s lifespan based on how it follows a bell curve.

The time this takes varies among product categories. Market analysts have to track the sales to calculate when the product has reached a peak. Then they have a tough choice between spending more on marketing to stretch out the product maturity phase, or to just not bother with marketing at all. This brings this framework’s greatest controversy. Critics claim that counting on the PLC accelerates decline when marketing budgets get cut. Excessive caution, they claim, can even generate decline before product maturity has lived out.

One reason for that perception is unexpected market influences. Consider prominent toy products, like Hula Hoops. They tend to have a genuine cycle in their lifecycle, with decline eventually returning to growth as parents who enjoyed them as children want their own kids to enjoy them as well. In 2012, according to CNN Money, this happened when Easy Bake Oven, My Little Pony, Hot Wheels, G.I. Joe, and Big Wheel began making a comeback.

Media also affects such resurgent growth. The movie Toy Story created a marketing landslide for Buzz and Woody dolls, the films new characters, but also brought a surge of interest in the classic Mr. Potato Head and Slinky Dogs. These all show that clever consideration of all market forces — and creative application of strategic alliances and innovative exposure — can turn the PLC back around on itself. The key is for superior marketers to proactively generate “unexpected” influences, rather than waiting for some that may never come on their own.


Segment Customers to Increase Leads, Sales, and Satisfaction

Global Hospitality Group Partners with Cornell for Scalable, Ivy League Professional Development

eCornell announced today that it has been selected by the acclaimed Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group (B&BHG), an industry leader in hospitality, to provide an online professional development program for employees working at each of the group’s 26 restaurants . The one-year contract begins July 1, 2013.

“We’re thrilled to partner with B&BHG to help prepare their staff and operations for continued growth and success,” said Chris Proulx, eCornell’s Chief Executive Officer. “The restaurant business isn’t an easy one, but B&BHG’s focus on continuous education and improvement is one way to ensure the group remains innovative and one step ahead.”

B&BHG’s learning and development program will support its business strategy and the eCornell partnership is just one of these initiatives. Selected staff members will be invited to take one course from a hand-picked survey of eCornell courses across multiple disciplines.

“At B&B, our primary focus continues to be growth. We’re rapidly expanding and to move forward, we need a learning and development solution that we can implement quickly and scale up easily. For us, eCornell was the only choice — it combines Cornell’s high-caliber content and industry thought leadership with a flexible, scalable online platform,” said Rajan Lai, Vice President of Human Resources for B&BHG.

To continue to be a leader in the hospitality industry, B&BHG is diversifying its concepts geographically and striving to meet the demand for high quality, affordable, and unique dining experiences. Partnering with B&BHG allows eCornell to assist with improving the group’s operational quality and service.

eCornell’s approach to e-learning combines the experience and insight of Cornell University’s world-class faculty members with the flexibility of a self-paced, instructor-facilitated online learning environment. Classes of 20 to 30 participants per course gain critical knowledge and practice through videos, lectures, case studies, and applied exercises. Students also build their professional networks and collaborative skills using eCornell’s interactive online platform.

Guest Post on Infusionsoft: Big Ideas Blog


About eCornell

eCornell, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cornell University, provides many of the world’s leading organizations with online professional and executive development in the areas of leadership and management; human resource management; financial management; healthcare; marketing; and hospitality and foodservice management. eCornell’s proven course development model and asynchronous instructor-led course delivery provide students with an engaging, rigorous, and interactive learning experience. eCornell has delivered online courses to more than 50,000 students across more than 200 countries. For more information, visit


About the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group

Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group (B&BHG) is a premier (restaurant) group that owns and operates 26 restaurants in the United States, Singapore and Hong Kong. B&BHG is owned in partnership by Mario Batali, chef, restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality; Joe Bastianich, restaurateur, wine maker, and author; and Lidia Bastianich, chef, best-selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business. B&BHG’s restaurants include Babbo Ristorante & Enoteca, Bar Jamón, Becco, Casa Mono, Del Posto, Esca, Felidia, Lupa Osteria Romana, Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria, and Tarry Lodge in New York; Tarry Lodge Enoteca & Pizzeria in Westport, Connecticut; Lidia’s in Pittsburgh and Kansas City; B&B Ristorante, Carnevino, and Otto Enoteca & Pizzeria in Las Vegas; Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza and Mozza2Go in Los Angeles; Pizzeria Mozza in Newport Beach, California; and Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza in collaboration with Nancy Silverton in Singapore and Carnevino and Lupa in Hong Kong. B&BHG is also an industry leader in sustainability, with fourteen certified Green Restaurants and counting. For more information, visit

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