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A Guide to Positioning Strategy for Freelancers and Small Businesses in 2019

By Rob Williams

I recently read April Dunford’s short book on positioning, Obviously Awesome which I strongly recommend if you are looking for help with positioning.

My main takeaway was that I needed to stop positioning my business in a market category that I thought it should be in and instead look at the data. That sounds intimidating but it’s really not. She walks you through simple questions like these in the book:

  1. What are the competitive alternatives to your product?
  2. What market category are these alternatives in (example: CRM vs Email)?
  3. How well do MY features compete in each individual category?

The result is you may find a market category that you had never considered is WAY better aligned with your feature set and serving your ideal customers.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the 2 market categories I always thought I was competing in are actually highlighting big negatives about my product… and on the other hand another market category is much better aligned to my features and ideal customer.

So instead of just defaulting to something that you picked when you were first starting the company, the book can help guide you to positioning your product or service strategically.

The books definition of Positioning:

“Positioning is the act of deliberately defining how you are the best at something that a defined market cares a lot about.”

Five Components of positioning:

  • Competitive alternatives
  • Unique attributes
  • Value (and proof)
  • Target market characteristics
  • Market category
  • Relevant Trends (Bonus)

Ten Step Positioning Process:

  1. Understand the Customers who Love Your Product
  2. Form a positioning team
  3. Align Your Positioning Vocabulary and Let Go of Your Positioning Baggage
  4. List Your True Competitive Alternatives
  5. Isolate Your Unique Attributes or Feature
  6. Map Attributes to Value “Themes”
  7. Determine Who Cares a Lot
  8. Find a Market Frame of Reference That Puts Your Strengths at the Center and Determine How to Position it
  9. Layer On a Trend (but Be Careful)
  10. Capture Your Positioning so It Can Be Shared

For the curious…

Anyways that’s my review of the book!

A couple more awesome resources:

Positioning statement example.

In this episode I talk to Philip Morgan about how to decide which clients to go after.

About Rob Williams...

I run Folyo which helps freelance designers find the work they were meant to do. I also host Freelance a podcast about how to be more effective at independent work featuring remote companies like Disney, Basecamp, YNAB, ConvertKit and more.