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Positioning Is Not Messaging

by Hank Barnes  |  January 23, 2018  |  1 Comment

A few weeks back, I shared one of the most common issues with positioning efforts–attacking vs. just declaring the primary competitive alternative.  Today, I want to talk about a bigger theme.

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Source: pexels.com

At Gartner, we often discuss client’s mission critical priorities (MCPs).  For tech providers, positioning and messaging is one of the most common MCPs.    And, while they are related, the grouping may be creating an issue.

Simply put, positioning is not messaging.  Positioning is a strategic declaration.  Done well, it guides messaging (and many, many other activities).

But, I regularly review positioning frameworks that are overloaded with marketing buzzwords, lofty adjectives, and features galore.

That is missing the point.

Positioning should be simple and clear.  If you want to throw in adjectives, load them into the discussion of the customer’s needs and wants–not the description of your value and differentiation.  You may not be able to eliminate all adjectives (after all they are descriptive), but try to minimize them.

The best positioning is simple, clear, and obvious.   For each element of the framework strive to focus on one thing and one thing only.   Every time you have an “and” in your framework, you are at high risk of diluting the focus.

Positioning should be how you talk about what you do internally and with investors that aren’t interested in the hyperbole.

Positioning is a strategic declaration.  It is not messaging.  Stop confusing the two and you’ll have much more clarity.

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: messaging  positioning  strategy  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
5+ years at Gartner
30 years IT Industry

Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies for technology providers. He focuses on issues related to positioning, storytelling, the technology customer life cycle, and customer experience. Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Positioning Is Not Messaging


  1. Hank, you are so right on the positioning. A simple rule I give my clients is only provable FACTS in positioning statements. Nothing that sounds like an OPINION.



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