Small Business Training – Part 1 – Marketting and Positioning

Well, I finally got around to it. Sorry it took so long, but I did start when I said I would, but this took a bit longer than I anticipated. Had to make it good I guess πŸ™‚ Anyway, this is part one of a series of articles that I’m writing detailing what I learned in the Self Employment Program (SEP) training a few weeks ago.

This article will cover some basic marketing principles that were new to me, and the concept of a positioning statement.

Marketing and Positioning

You can’t be a “real” business unless you think of yourself as
one. If you tell people “yea, I have this little business I do on the side…”
you’ll never be successful. You will always have a “little business” you do “on
the side.” When the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle decided to change their
image (watch the video Fish if you can) the first thing they did was
decide that they were going to be world famous. So what did they do? They
changed their name to “The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market”. Does form
follow function, or does function follow form? They became world famous because
they had the attitude that they were world famous. Even just saying
that you work for The World Famous Pike Place Fish Market feels
different that just “The Pike Place Fish Market” doesn’t it?

This same sort of change can be done on your own business. Don’t answer the
phone “hello”, answer it with the respect and authority that your business
deserves. Do things with the attitude that your business is trying to

One of the things you should do is write down words that describe the attitude of the
business. Are you serious, professional, fun, exciting, energetic, or [insert
adjective here]? Write down the words that are what you are trying to project
by the phone and keep them in mind in your emails, your phone skills, and your

Basic Marketing

You need to create a Marketing Plan. This helps you pin down exactly
who you are selling to, and what your business provides. Knowing that you sell
widgets is great, but when you think about it, it means absolutely
to anyone.

When asked which we thought the most important of the 5 W’s (who what when where
why) was, there were a lot of different answers. Turns out that
why is the real winner. People you are marketing to (and you
are always marketing to people) must have an answer to the following question:

“What is the benefit to me?”

When you create a brochure or some sort of advertising or whatever, if
it starts with your company name, forget it. NO ONE CARES that you run Widgets Inc., or that you provide the best widgets in North America or that they come with a money back guarentee. No one cares that you have this funky and fancy logo. They want to know what you can do for them. Start out your sales pitch, be it
on paper or by voice with a benefit. “Save yourself time.” “Don’t worry about
Christmas bills.” “Make your employees happy.”

Lets say you do car detailing… saying “don’t worry about detailing your car”
is OK, but not great. Where is the benefit? How about “have a beautiful car
without doing any work”? Better. I am by no means an expert on any of this,
just giving an example or two to chew on.

Basically remember, sell the benefits, not the features.

The Positioning Statement

This all goes towards creating a positioning statement. What a positioning
statement does is give you a short, 20 second speech to give that describes what
you do, who you do it for, and its benefits. This is afoundation for all
your marketing.

To start with, make a list of 50 attributes of your target market. Anything
from income to hair color (if appropriate) is valid. You really have to know
who you are going after.

Your positioning statement should answer the following questions:

  1. What you do
  2. Who you do it for
  3. What the benefits for them are

For example, my positioning statement for Arcterex Consulting might go something
like this:

“For web design firms, Arcterex Consulting is the contract consulting company
that saves you money while providing professional, attentive service.”

These are easy to create, just fill in the blanks:

For (describe your target in simple, friendly language), (Your
is the (Competitive category) that provides/makes
(benefits) (benefits).

This positioning statement is not the be all and end all, but it should give you a good idea of who you are and who you are marketting to. You can use this information to help all your marketing and presense stay consistant. Your phone voice, correspondance, letterhead, and advertising should be created to be targetted at the right people. All this information and attitude goes into creating your mareting plan.

One last example. Think of the difference between the logo of say, a trucking company and a flower store. One has a font that is big, strong and dependable, one has a font that is elegant, sleek and dainty. It’s probably best not to mess the two of them up πŸ™‚

There is more to come. Keep watching this space for more in this series of


Geurilla Marketing series of books by Conrad Levinson

Fish – the video, check your local Community Futures resource center.