Selling the invisible

Written on the 1 June 2013 by Kellie Williams

One of the coolest analogies on the subject of marketing comes from Louis Carroll's “Alice in Wonderland”.

When Alice found herself at crossroads confused and disorientated, she asked the grinning Cheshire Cat, “Which path should I take?” he replied, "Where do you want to go?’, to which she responded, “I don’t really know!”  His comeback was, “Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go, does it?”

There’s no doubt that it’s becoming more and more difficult to choose which avenue to go down when promoting your business. There's the usual suspects like TV, radio and print, plus magazines, online, WOM (word of mouth). But now there's also social media, email and database marketing, Google ads, there's even ads all over buses these days!

However, one thing is clear; if a business is at crossroads and has no direction, it can act like a mutant creature talking from multiple mouths with no voice, going nowhere and wondering why the marketing isn’t working.

Finding out your USP (unique selling point) and creating a positioning statement in your business is essential to an effective communications plan.

A positioning statement is not a tagline or slogan. It is a statement that defines the benefits of your product/service to your target consumer, and states how your business is different from your competitors.

To create a simple positioning statement you should answer seven key questions:

  1. Who is the business
  2. What industry are you in
  3. Who are your prospects
  4. Who are your competitors
  5. What is needed by the market you service
  6. What is makes you stand out from the competition (niche)
  7. What unique benefit is derived from using your products or services

These answers should provide what is needed to introduce an effective, position-driven communications plan for your business and marketing team. 

Also, try not to confuse a positioning statement with a market position.  I recently read Harry Beckwith’s book “Selling the Invisible,” and he clearly states "A position (or statement of position) is a cold-hearted, no-nonsense statement of how you are perceived in the minds of your prospects.  A positioning statement, by contrast expresses how you wish to be perceived.  It is the core message you want to deliver in every medium (you use)."

Once you’ve produced a communications plan, it's up to you and your marketing team to guide and control the consistent use of the positioning statement and key messages.  There’s no doubt that selling the invisible will demand considerable effort at the onset, but the pay-off will significantly improve your marketing communications.

CHESHIRE CAT: Oh, by the way, if you'd really like to know, he went that way.
ALICE: Who did?
CHESHIRE CAT: The White Rabbit.
ALICE: He did?
CHESHIRE CAT: He did what?
ALICE: Went that way.
CHESHIRE CAT: Who did?
ALICE: The White Rabbit.
CHESHIRE CAT: What rabbit?
ALICE: But didn't you just say - I mean - Oh, dear.
CHESHIRE CAT: Can you stand on your head?
ALICE: Oh!


Kellie WilliamsAuthor: Kellie Williams
About: Kellie studied Commercial Art over 25 years ago at James Cook University and has been working in the Printing and Media industries ever since. She has worked for screenprinters, printing companies and newspapers in North Queensland and now runs her own business, Jasper Design, servicing Qld and interstate clients.
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