Positioning, what you do to take up a specific place in your target market’s mind, is a critical part of your brand. Good positioning will help you stand out among the crowd—and make your marketing, sales, and fulfillment much easier. And poor positioning will make you invisible to your marketplace.
But how can you position your services brand? How can you position yourself if you’re a consultant, a coach, or agency? You might not be selling something physical like a food and beverage or clothing brand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use your brand to create the same magnetic effect on your potential clients. By the end of this article, you’ll have three action items to improve your service businesses’ positioning—and create a stronger brand that attracts your ideal clients.
Specific Messaging: Who, What, and Why
One of the best ways to improve your brand positioning is by improving your brand positioning statement. The brand positioning statement communicates your value to your market and how you’re different from your competitors. Magnetic Messaging is our version of the positioning statement. Here are the ingredients:
- WHO: The specific type of client you serve.
- WHAT: The specific types of problems that they have, and the specific types of results you can create for them.
- WHY: The specific reasons they hire you and what makes you different from competing brands.
Notice what’s common among all three? Specificity. It’s extremely difficult to position your services brand in the mind of your buyer without being specific. For example, considering the following positioning statement:
We help small businesses improve their productivity so they can achieve growth.”
Compare this message with the example below:
We help manufacturing companies achieve and sustain reductions in operational costs of 20%, improve on-time delivery to 99%, and reduce defects to improve quality to 99%+—helping grow profits by up to 25%. Unlike our competitors, we guarantee our results.”
The first example is a weak brand positioning statement. “Small businesses” is far too vague. “Improve their productivity so they can achieve growth” is forgettable. Finally, it does not answer why anyone would choose the company over their competitors.
The second example is a much stronger brand positioning statement. It claims to serve a specific type of client: manufacturing companies. It speaks to the specific value they create for their clients: reductions in operational costs, improving on-time delivery and reducing defects—all of which grow profits. Finally, they have a strong point of differentiation: they guarantee their results (unlike their competitors).
Weak brands have vague positioning statements. Being unspecific helps them hedge and feel safe. Strong brands have specific positioning statements. Instead of hedging, they make specific claims and promises. The more specific your positioning and your positioning statement, the easier it will be to claim a specific place in the mind of your market.
Create Polarizing Content
Take a minute and think about strong, memorable brands. Not necessarily brands that you like, but brands that you notice, remember, or react to. Well-positioned brands have a distinct point of view. They have a worldview that explains how they see the world.
What do you think of when you see the Harley-Davidson brand? The brand stands for freedom, power, and rebellion. If freedom, power, and rebellion are important parts of your worldview, then Harley Davidson’s brand will resonate more with you. If not, then you’d prefer a brand that tells a different story. But what does this mean for the services firm?
You aren’t selling a product like a motorcycle—you’re selling your knowledge and expertise. One of the best ways to communicate your worldview is through your content. You take a stance on a certain idea or principle on which you run your business.
For example, let’s say you run an accounting firm. You believe that you should charge based on the value you create for your clients instead of charging for your time. You’d place this core belief at the center of your content marketing strategy. You’re looking to attract clients who don’t want to pay their accounting firms by the hour—and would rather pay them based on the value they create. And you’re pushing away clients who would rather pay their accounting firm by the hour.
The content that you write and promote makes your firm’s worldview clear. Doing this creates polarity. You’re putting ideas out into the world that will create a strong attraction to some clients and repulse other clients. That’s a good thing. Generic, bland content that doesn’t take a stand gets ignored. Polarizing, unique content that takes a stand may get criticized by some (people who would never become your clients anyway)—but will attract the type of clients you want to attract. Use your content to position your brand based on your worldview and principles to create a more compelling brand.
Consistency Is Key
So, you’ve written a killer brand positioning statement. You’ve published your first piece of polarizing content. Now what? You can’t expect your market to simply accept the spot you want in their mind. You’ll have to fight your way there. And you do that with consistency: constantly reiterating your positioning statement and your unique points of view.
This is more than a useful marketing habit—it’s a persuasion technique. Stefan Schulz-Hardt demonstrates this in his 2016 publication: repeating specific information can change someone’s mind. Repetition is persuasion. Here’s how you can use this principle:
- First, ensure that all of your firm’s marketing assets—your LinkedIn company page, website, print materials, etc.—reiterate your positioning. A disjointed brand that says different things on different platforms cannot use repetition as a persuasive strategy.
- Second, create an editorial calendar for your content. Stick to it. Make sure that your articles and content demonstrate your firm’s unique point of view and worldview. Again—make it your goal to polarize. Actively try to push away prospective clients who don’t fit your worldview.
The key is to keep showing up. Make a habit out of reinforcing your messaging and your unique perspectives. Over time, you will earn your way to a distinct position in the mind of your market—and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Summary: How to position your services brand
It’s more complex to position your services brand that sells knowledge instead of products. But make no mistake—it’s just as important. If your firm’s brand is failing to stand out in the minds of your buyers, then…
- Improve your brand positioning statement by getting more specific
- Write polarizing content that declares your worldview
- Be consistent: use repetition to earn your spot in the mind of your market
At first, it will feel scary. Being specific and writing polarizing content forces you to put skin in the game. But you’ll be rewarded with more attention, more clients, and more revenue. That’s the power of a well-positioned services brand.
Michael Zipursky is the CEO of Consulting Success® and Coach to Consultants. He has advised organizations like Financial Times, Dow Jones, RBC, and helped Panasonic launch new products into global markets, but more importantly, he’s helped over 500 consultants from around the world in over 75 industries add 6 and 7 figures to their annual revenues. Over 35,000 consultants read his weekly consulting newsletter. Michael is also the author of the Amazon Best Sellers ACT NOW: How Successful Consultants Thrive During Chaos and Uncertainty, The Elite Consulting Mind, and Consulting Success®, the book.