I’m working with my startup Ensafer, and one of the important issues is to position the startup. But what is it, and why do we need to do it? Many people find it difficult to make a position statement, including me. Then I came over a good blog post at First Round Capital interviewing Arielle Jackson who managed the product marketing for Gmail, Docs, Calendar and Voice at Google for nine years – before moving over to Square and now Cover. It’s a long blog post, so let me give a short summary.

This is how to position you business according to her:

“At its core, positioning is a statement. It’s a sentence or two that clearly defines the problem you’re setting out to solve and why your solution is compelling. Your positioning statement should remain internal, but it’s critical to everything that follows: Aligning teams, hiring the right people, developing the best product, communicating the value of your work — the list goes on. It all starts with positioning.”

So what does a positioning statement look like according to Arielle Jackson? She’s got a good recipe:

For (target customer)
who (statement of need or opportunity),
(Product name) is a (product category)
that (statement of key benefit).
Unlike (competing alternative),
(Product name)(statement of primary differentiation).

And here’s an example:

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

What’s the difference between tag lines and position statements? Here’s Arielle’s comment on this: “Some people mix up taglines and positioning statements, but taglines serve a much different purpose: They’re externally-facing catch phrases or slogans that are in line with your positioning. As an example, one of Harley’s taglines is: ‘American by birth. Rebel by choice.’ It wraps up a lot of the same ideas in a neater, more concise package.”

There are other good blog posts out there about this issue, among them “The right way to position your startup against competition” and “The XYZ guide to Positioning for Lean Startups“.  And you can find other posts on startups on my blog, and the last one is here written a couple of days ago on investor pitching.

Just let me finish off with a last quote from the post I have reviewed:

“You can’t be everything to everyone, but you can be something great for someone.”

There are also other issues in this long blog post, and I’ll leave it up to you to read the rest her here.

(Featured image by Mukumbura/CC BY)