Some notes on positioning vs. specialization

Philip Morgan

I think the episode of The Freelancer's Show where Jonathan, Kai, and I talked through the question of "What is positioning, and how does it relate to specialization?" won't be live for another week or two, but in the meantime....After that episode I took some notes to expand on the discussion we had about the difference between positioning and specialization.I think you'll find these notes interesting:Positioning is not something you do, it’s something you achieve. Positioning is how the market sees you, remembers you, measures you, and compares you to alternatives. Your position usually includes elements like reputation, specificity, price, and intangibles like brand.In the world of professional services, you achieve a desirable market position by specializing and developing exceptionally valuable expertise, and then (simultaneously or after the fact) becoming well-known among your ideal clients for that expertise.Specialization is how you create the ability to deliver economically valuable outcomes to clients, which over time, feeds into and enhances how the market sees you.**Specialization is the lever/engine you use to cultivate a desirable market position.**When you combine these ideas about positioning and specialization, a complete picture emerges of how you might improve your business over time:

  1. First, you aspire to a desirable market position.
  2. Then, you make a decision about how you want to be known, and then you specialize (narrow your focus in 1 of 5 possible ways), and execute on that narrow focus for long enough to move into your desired market position.
  3. As you or the market change, you make course corrections along the way.


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