The most important word in a positioning statement

Last Friday I asked y’all: What would you say is the most important single word in a positioning statement?

I got some great responses. Thank you to those who responded!

Most of you were 100% right. The most important single word in a positioning statement is “for”.

Let’s dive into this a bit…

While this won’t work for every single positioning statement, there is a sort of bulletproof formula I like to use:

[Thing you do] for [who you do it for]

So that translates into positioning statements like “Accurate revenue attribution for online retailers” or “Custom software development for higher education” or “Lower churn and CaC for bootstrapped SaaS companies”.

All value is contextual.

I would pay $100/mo for accurate revenue attribution. Adobe or Microsoft or American Apparel might pay closer to $100,000/mo or even $1,000,000/mo for the same result.

That’s why I say the word “for” is the most important single word in a positioning statement. It creates the context for the value of what you provide. It sets the stage to explain who your services are meant to create value for.

Caveats:

  • There are very valid ways of phrasing a positioning statement that won’t use the word “for”.
  • There are valid market positions where the for/who part is implied. The implication is: “my services are for any business that suffers this problem or needs this result”. This is typical of horizontal market positions.

List member Tsavo brought up a really interesting point in his reply.

He basically said: “the word and is the most important word because its presence indicates a lack of focus.”

In general, he’s 100% right, though there are times when two verticals, or two problems, or two outcomes pair really naturally together. For example, I see some organizations focus on both medicine and life science, for example, and that pairing makes a lot of sense. But in general, the word “and” in a positioning statement indicates lack of courage or clarity. Lack of courage to go for the singular focus where your expertise creates the most value, or lack of clarity about where that focus might be.

The first workshop in Specialization School is designed to help you deal with those two problems.

The second is designed to help you gain the insight you might need into a market in order to more effectively connect and build trust with them.

And the third is designed to help you learn basic outbound lead generation so you have a lever you can pull to generate business in your specialized area of focus. After 3 to 5 years you won’t need this lever, but at first it’s an incredibly valuable bootstrapping tool for a new specialist.

The description and schedule of workshops is always available at http://specializationschool.com#schedule

-P