Saturday, June 16, 2012

What's the difference between a positioning statement and a value proposition?

I attended a very good webinar today broadcast by Demand Metric.  It was called 'Positioning for Market Success'.   I wrote about market positioning a few weeks ago in a blog called 'Does Your Firm Stake out a Market Position'.   The more I learn about the fundamentals of good marketing, the more I believe that many or even most firms do not adhere to fundamentals of marketing or even strategy in many cases.  Go ahead and ask one of your senior executives to tell you about their firm's market position and the accompanying market positioning statement.  I expect most of you will hear a description of the product or service that is offered to the market rather than a concise market positioning statement.

Some of you may hear a value proposition which is very similar to a market positioning statement, but still different.  This brings me back to the webinar I watched today.  One astute audience member asked the question, 'what is the difference between a positioning statement and a value proposition?'.  I admit, I did not know the answer, but the speaker explained that at positioning statement is something that is internal to the firm and used to support the overall strategy.  A value proposition is market facing and tells what value the firm offers to the market.  The words may or may not be similar.

Typically, a firm will decide on their market position first then follow up with a cogent value proposition.  Let's take a look at the automobile market.  Auto company marketers are some of the best when it comes to staking a market position and communicating the associated value proposition.   What do you think of when you think of Volvo cars?  Volvo has decided to take the position as "safe and durable".  I suspect that most of us think 'safe and durable' when we think of Volvo cars.  Families with small children are a perfect demographic for Volvo, no?  What about Mercedes Benz or Toyota?  Both of these brands conjure a different value propositions in your mind and appeal do different markets or demographics.  The value proposition is driven by the internal marketing position statement.

I'd like to challenge you, fellow modern marketers, to articulate both your positioning statement and your value proposition.  What do you think, are you able to meet the challenge?  If you can't state both clearly and with conviction, then you have work to do.

Hint:  Neither the positioning statement nor the value proposition are about features or descriptions of the offering.

This is a good reference I just came across worth checking it out.

Good luck!