👋 Hi, I’m James. Thanks for checking out Building Momentum: a newsletter to help startup founders and marketers accelerate SaaS growth through product marketing.

Positioning can be neglected for a whole number of reasons. Usually, speed of execution throws out any plans for a structured approach to positioning. Shortcuts become common.

New messages, new themes, new features and benefits, new narratives are lackadaisically attached to your messaging without coherent care and attention. “It does the job,” you think. “It won’t be there forever. We’ll revisit it soon.”

But that never happens. The chances of revisiting fades. The messaging just becomes baked in, part of the furniture. Everyone accepts it. Where did it come from? Nobody knows for certain – but everyone uses it, so it must be great.

The slippery slope

Just like a neglected property, everything might look fine on the outside… but inside it’s rotten.

And just like rot, neglected positioning starts to infect everything else too.

New upcoming features are treated the same: a bit of wordsmithing, run it past the boss – and click, it’s on the website.

“Wordsmithing” loses any creativity. It now means “look at a thesaurus and use a synonym”.

“Value” is forgotten. Faster, easier, simpler, time-saving, more efficient, more flexible, the first, the only, best-in-class, modern, all-in-one.

First-order thinking wins. Do this, get that: use our new feature to save time on process.

When was the last time anyone spoke to a customer or prospect that wasn’t on a sales call? Nobody knows.

When this kind of thing happens, it won’t be obvious. It will show up in many different ways. Death by a thousand cuts.

Slower sales cycles. Unmotivated prospects. Falling conversion rates. Tyre-kickers. Team attrition. A big push on sales comp plans and spiffs to grow the pipeline: “the top rep gets a Ferrari”.

Inertia sets in.

Test your confidence

Positioning is a really crucial step to consider thoughtfully in everything you do – whether that’s release a new product, change pricing, make platform updates, or even communicate failures.

Sometimes, you’ll want to run a full positioning project: segmentation, research, value messaging.

Sometimes, you don’t have the time or the need to run a full project. You can get by with a few casual conversations, or a quick email to a friendly customer. Maybe you have solid internal customer-representation from sales, customer success, and product marketing colleagues.

In these situations, measure your confidence.

Are you feeling comfortable and confident that the positioning you’re about to use will hit the mark? Is it resilient and based on evidence?

Or perhaps you’re not feeling sure: the positioning has been developed within your team without any other internal validation. Or it’s really important to get it right, so you need more eyes on it.

Whatever you do, don’t neglect positioning

Be mindful of the positioning messages that you’re creating and putting out into the world.

  • Do they fit well, or does it feel discombobulated?

  • Are they based on evidence, or are they assumptions?

  • Were they developed with care and attention, or were they an afterthought?

Neglected positioning will pull you down and prevent you from making real progress. And as regular readers will know, momentum is the output of focus and confidence.

Can you improve focus (by reducing breadth and increasing clarity) and build confidence (through measurement, testing, and iteration) in your positioning?

Here’s hoping.

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