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The Context to Care and Compare

by Hank Barnes  |  July 3, 2018  |  1 Comment

I’ve been beating the drum for better messaging through positioning and storytelling for years.  It’s a repeated theme in this blog.    But many of the problems I have with messaging continue to appear over and over again.    Recently, in speaking with one client, they mentioned a new book on positioning, “Getting to Aha!: Discover Your Positioning DNA and Dominate Your Competition“, by Andy Cunningham.  She presents some interesting ideas on aligning positioning to your “corporate DNA” that I agree with (believing that organizations have personality-like characteristics that influence everything they do).

Our detailed perspective on positioning is a little different (one of her outcomes is more “egocentric” elevator pitches than customer-centric stories), but there is a lot of common ground.   One of the more interesting things in the book was her observation, in reviewing positioning for a number of clients, that an element that was consistently missing was any claim of differentiation.

Photo by J carter from Pexels

Photo by J carter from Pexels

Most companies describe what they do pretty well.  But they don’t work hard at establishing any differentiation.  They give you no context to compare.

Shortly after reading that book, I reconnected with a business friend, Ken Rutsky.  You might remember that Ken wrote another book I’ve discussed that I still recommend (“Launching to Leading: How B2B Market Leaders Create Flashmobs, Marshal Parades and Ignite Movements“).  Ken and I were catching up around a number of things, but came back to his ideas about having a point of view that sets you apart from the competition.   Really, his point is that you need to give customers the context to care.

And that, too, rarely happens.

Stories are the best approach to communicate in a manner that establishes context.  But even without stories messages can be better

Right now, go take a look at your materials.   Are you just describing what you do?   Or are you giving your audiences the context to care and compare?

Without that, there is no reason for them to give you their time and attention.



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Category: go-to-market  

Tags: differentiation  messaging  point-of-view  positioning  storytelling  viewpoint  

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

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on The Context to Care and Compare

  1. Kudos on more sagacious, to-the-point GTM guidance, Hank!

    Another complication: disparate “islands of context.” At too many companies, the story told at the web site differs from the one told at the Facebook page, which differs from the Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or Yelp profiles. Marketers need to make sure that every outreach effort “sings the same hymn from the same page of the same hymnal in the same key at the same time.” Otherwise, contextual dissonance will lead to confusion, frustration, and customers and prospects seeking competitors with more clear, consistent messaging.

    Thanks again for another great post. Off to share it!

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