Lisa Simpson knows positioningIn response to derisive comments from brother Bart regarding her new babysitting business, Lisa retorts, “I’m not just a babysitter. I’m in the business of supplying peace of mind for one dollar an hour.”

What a positioning statement! Lisa has the ability to translate a feature into a benefit, and to define her enterprise not only by the service she sells, but by what the service means to her customers.

Try stating, just as succinctly, what business you’re truly in. When you do, you’ve automatically defined the following:

  • Your target market
  • The direction of your business growth
  • The unique benefits you offer
  • Your marketing message
  • The value you add to your product
  • The values and attitude your employees will present
  • How you differentiate yourself from your competition

Here’s how a positioning statement can drive a business forward. A mid-size Ontario ski resort had simply defined itself as a great place to ski. It had good ski terrain, vertical, snowmaking and grooming, and a comfortable lodge facility. But it wasn’t getting its market share. The owner decided to re-state what business he was in – the entertainment business. His reasoning was that skiers demanded, and usually got, good skiing, grooming, and amenities at most ski areas. By simply changing his focus from being in the ski business to being in the entertainment business, he and his management team were able to come up with strategies that expanded the total skier experience.

Once the resort got into the entertainment mode, things began to happen. Staff were hired for their outgoing personalities. Job recruits had to tell a joke or a story as part of their job interview, talk about special talents they had or make up a zany story. The food line in the skier cafeteria became livelier, as well as faster. Musicians played in the lodge for weekend aprés-ski. Buskers entertained people in ski-tow lines. Arriving and departing bus groups were met or seen of with a great deal of fun and fuss. Skiers had a great time and so did staff. Skier visits increased, as did press coverage.

Create a meaningful positioning statement for your business and you’ll find that defining your growth strategies becomes a whole lot easier. Begin by doing some research. Gather input from your staff and your customers. Take a look at what similar businesses are doing in your industry and in your competitive context. Then describe the total experience you want to offer your customer.