how to start positioning your business

My friend Sarah is a brilliant artist and portrait painter.
Her portrait commissions start at $75k.

So to get herself in front of more of her ideal clients, she joined The Rideau Club, a fancy private social club and of the oldest of its kind in Canada.

This is such a smart investment in her business. It puts her in the enviable position of being one of the more memorable people in rooms full of many interesting people.

When she attends an event and someone asks her what she does, no one is ever confused about her answer.

They’re intrigued. And they are more than happy to introduce her to their colleagues and friends. It’s pretty darn cool to say, “Meet Sarah, she’s a portrait painter who recently completed a commission for a couple celebrating their 75th anniversary.”

When she told me about her experience in the club, I thought it must be so great to stand out among the other members – most of whom are executives and government types.

I mean, how amazing would it be to be quickly understood and sound interesting when you tell someone what you do

Sarah loves it and she says it doesn’t get old to have people take her by the arm to “show her off” to someone they know.

This happens because Sarah stands out in contrast to others in the room and it is clear what value she can provide for some of them.

In other words, she has great positioning.

Positioning is one of the most important, overlooked, and underappreciated strategic elements in business.

Positioning refers to how your (potential) clients position your business (if at all) in their minds. It’s how they see your service among others like it.

To do that, they need to understand where you fit within all the possible categories they could assign you to.

We don’t like what we struggle to categorize.

So it’s up to you to help people do this through positioning. Otherwise, they will ignore you.

Positioning is something you can influence by defining exactly why someone should choose you. Why you are different and the right solution for those who care a lot about what you do.

It’s not about creating a positioning statement. Those statements are useless.

It’s about putting your business in the room you want to be in.
And standing out in that room.

This helps people understand how you matter to them.
It helps them understand if they should introduce you to someone else.

When you base your communication on your position (and you absolutely should), when done well, you will help people feel understood.

Feeling like you get them is what matters most when they’re deciding whether they should choose you.

How can you start to define your positioning?

1 – Decide what room (aka category) you want to be in.
This is where you provide context for how you would like people to perceive your business.

For example, if you’re a writing coach, do you want people to think of you among AI writing software, template providers, and blogging teachers?

Or do you want them to think of you among higher-end experiences like writing retreats and personalized feedback + editing?

2 – Stand out.

  • Distinguish your business among other solutions.
    To do this, don’t focus on your services but on the value your particular expertise provides.

  • Know what you stand for.
    Share strong points of view on your market and industry.

  • Focus on giving insights. Not just information.
    In this email, I’m sharing my take on positioning based on what I’ve learned from helping clients position themselves.

  • Talk about things only you can talk about.
    Things like personal stories. This doesn’t have to be soul-bearing stuff. Anecdotes like the one I shared about Sarah here work well.

These are only a few of the ways you can influence where and how your ideal clients put your business in their minds but it’s a good start.


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