Why Positioning Matters [Copywriting tip]

18 replies
When I'm in the beginning stages of a new project and I start writing copy...

The first thing I try to do is create structure.

And in copy...

The structure is defined by the hook and overall positioning.

Now, a lot of people struggle with positioning.

But it's the #1 weapon you ALWAYS have at your disposal.

Here's what I mean...

Positioning is about coming from a specific intention...

And you're using that intention to enter and steer the conversation you're having with prospects.

For instance...

If you're selling a product that could help women who are having relationship problems...

You could enter the conversation by saying, "We're not trained on how to have a successful relationship. It's not there's a handbook, right? But there's actually one relationship-saving-technique... I accidentally stumbled upon... that instantly made over 1,000 men drop their "distant facade" and become vulnerable with their women... many for the first time ever."

Versus...

"If you're feeling ignored by your man and fear he might be drifting away, this is the most important presentation you'll ever see."

Versus...

"If you're trying to get your man back, speaking just 3 words could instantly grab his attention and make him start chasing YOU!"

All three entrances into the conversation are selling an ebook that teaches women how to give subtle compliments that trigger a dopamine response.

Here's another example:

As a copywriter...

I could position my services to go after people who don't understand the value of copy... which is what a LOT of copywriters do.

Or...

I can talk with people who have invested in copywriting services multiple times, know its value, made good money... and position myself as someone who understands what top businesses go through to convert.

I get to CHOOSE who I'm talking with... in the way I enter the conversation.

Whereas, again...

A lot of copywriters think it's EASIER to go after clients who need to be educated... when in reality... they're the worst prospects to go after...

Because they likely don't even have the budget to make the magic happen... if you convince them that copy is the end all, be all to converting.

So why waste your energy "bottom feeding" - when just a slight shift in your positioning can place you in front of people who are constantly on the lookout for new, top talent?

That's the power of positioning.

How does positioning apply to your offer?
#copywriting #matters #positioning #tip
  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Great topic about positioning Mark.

    To get into the depth, breadth and nuances on it,
    it's good to understand why the need for it in relationship
    as to what problem it solves.

    Let's talk about the state of the advertising world.

    First, it's the deluge of messages hitting
    us all.

    So not only has our message got to cut through
    what the alternatives to you is, but also other advertisers.

    We the consumer have to put up even stronger defense mechanisms in place
    to keep our sanity.

    We do this by filtering out what looks like
    all other messages.

    An example:Take carpet cleaning as a service. We've seen pricing per room,
    lifts more dirt than others, dries faster, no harmful chemicals, education
    on the bait and switch tactics used in the industry.

    They all wear out for one reason,
    they are all about carpet cleaning.

    True positioning is to take the carpet cleaner out of carpet cleaning
    and into another category, dust mite removal.

    Another thing I see most don't consider,
    is what others have done to impact the thinking, bias and
    experience of your potential customers.

    If for example those who hired price focused advertisers
    and got a bad experience, then by association you are bad if you focus on price.

    Not fair, but it's a realty.

    Taking your client out of cut-throat competition
    into a place where they rule #1 by using the
    full force of right positioning...I mean, hell,
    it's laughable to those who think copywriting
    is a commodity.

    It's alchemy.

    It's entrepreneurship, meaning, moving low value
    resources to high value areas.

    Low response + crowded market?
    Answer, right positioning.

    Best,
    Doctor E. Vile
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Speaking of dust mites, a salesman recently mentioned them when pitching me on a bedding accessory. He explained that dust mites would double the weight of my mattress in 10 years if allowed to propagate unchecked.

      Imagine...

      Alex
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      • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
        Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

        Speaking of dust mites, a salesman recently mentioned them when pitching me on a bedding accessory. He explained that dust mites would double the weight of my mattress in 10 years if allowed to propagate unchecked.

        Imagine...

        Alex
        Yea but they eat all the dust.

        They're like a little cleaning crew, and they're absolutely free.
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        • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
          Originally Posted by Cam Connor View Post

          Yea but they eat all the dust.

          They're like a little cleaning crew, and they're absolutely free.
          That's cool.

          The other thing he mentioned was dust mite feces. This guy was selling hard.

          I was going to tell him that his cell phone has more nasty bacteria than a public toilet but thought better of it. No telling what he might have done. LOL

          Alex
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          • Dust mites and guys dumpin' on your peace of mind in the sack.

            Yeah, had that one...
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          • Profile picture of the author Cam Connor
            Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

            That's cool.

            The other thing he mentioned was dust mite feces. This guy was selling hard.

            I was going to tell him that his cell phone has more nasty bacteria than a public toilet but thought better of it. No telling what he might have done. LOL

            Alex
            So he forces one to choose between a couple hundred lbs of dust and a couple hundred lbs of feces... that's a solid sales pitch.
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  • Profile picture of the author jessegilbert
    Banned
    well yeah I like this post...it is very relevant. who wants to have to convince someone of reality?

    So as I see it, intention or positioning would be the bigger picture...the actual copy piece is just like a battle or skirmish...while intention is the overall 'grand strategy'.

    Positioning is huge...it covers broader life or product goals than simply 'Save $50 on Wedding Accessories' etc...

    Thanks this is quality advice...you're right...probably should stop chasing the lower end prospects and go for those who don't need to be convinced.

    It's one thing to educate someone a little who is interested and walk them through it step by step if they are not familiar with specifics or certain technology...it's another thing entirely to convince and prod someone to help themselves when you could be working with the people who will value your work and get the most out of it.

    the only question I have is sometimes it is hard to position if your product or services cover multiple market sectors. I work on positioning extensively...Positioning can go beyond marketing too...I know we are not allowed to talk about these things mostly but even politicians and other people hire copywriters...so positioning goes to the core of what writing and persuasion is about and all else flows from there.
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    • Profile picture of the author gmcd07
      Positioning is NOT just about "who you're going for" and it's definitely not just about intention. It's about who you are, how your market sees you, and how your market considers you against alternatives and competitors.

      For example, John Carlton is "The Marketing Rebel--The most ripped off copywriter alive." Kevin Rogers is "The Copy Chief." Jay Abraham is "The Preeminent Business Expert" These guys mastered a position in the market place that they can reinforce with their personality, specializations and how they do business. Their ideal prospect, at first glance, could be an entrepreneur in the health industry. And in essence they're offering the same service. The difference is, the entrepreneur thinks of them all differently.

      But that's not all.

      Positioning is part of a sales angle. But it's also a trade off in what you chose to do. It's strategic both internally and externally. It's saying "I serve these people in this way" and saying "I don't serve these other people."

      It's very similar to strategy in this way. For example, by niching down your service, your not only deciding who to do business with, you're making yourself more efficient and effective because you don't have extraneous tasks stealing your attention.

      A few years ago Pepsi put Michael Jackson in their advertisements to target the younger generation. Can you guess what happened?

      Older generations, who dreamed of being younger, started to drink pepsi.

      So Think of Positioning as a 2 way street.

      It's who you say you serve (which market you chose to compete in).
      It's how the market sees you against alternatives.

      And this ties into how you serve your market. (This is enough for an entirely different post on strategy)

      Jay Abraham calls Positioning the USP--Realized.

      Anyway, here are three simple steps to position yourself.

      Know your ideal customer avatar. Make your sales message very clear and address them as specifically as you can.

      Put your business or your offer against your competition. Ideally at the highest level feasible. For example, Avis put themselves in relation to Mavis when they said, "We're number 2, so we try harder" in their slogan. That's solid, easy-to-understand positioning.

      When you position yourself, do it in a way that will last. Don't ride a FAD. Make your message easy to understand in a sentence or two.

      Above all, positioning is first and foremost about inception. It's what happens before you educate your prospect. It's something he knows about you before he's even in your world.
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      • Profile picture of the author splitTest
        Originally Posted by gmcd07 View Post

        Positioning is NOT just about "who you're going for" and it's definitely not just about intention. It's about who you are, how your market sees you, and how your market considers you against alternatives and competitors.

        For example, John Carlton is "The Marketing Rebel--The most ripped off copywriter alive." Kevin Rogers is "The Copy Chief." Jay Abraham is "The Preeminent Business Expert" These guys mastered a position in the market place that they can reinforce with their personality, specializations and how they do business. Their ideal prospect, at first glance, could be an entrepreneur in the health industry. And in essence they're offering the same service. The difference is, the entrepreneur thinks of them all differently.

        But that's not all.

        Positioning is part of a sales angle. But it's also a trade off in what you chose to do. It's strategic both internally and externally. It's saying "I serve these people in this way" and saying "I don't serve these other people."

        It's very similar to strategy in this way. For example, by niching down your service, your not only deciding who to do business with, you're making yourself more efficient and effective because you don't have extraneous tasks stealing your attention.

        A few years ago Pepsi put Michael Jackson in their advertisements to target the younger generation. Can you guess what happened?

        Older generations, who dreamed of being younger, started to drink pepsi.

        So Think of Positioning as a 2 way street.

        It's who you say you serve (which market you chose to compete in).
        It's how the market sees you against alternatives.

        And this ties into how you serve your market. (This is enough for an entirely different post on strategy)

        Jay Abraham calls Positioning the USP--Realized.

        Anyway, here are three simple steps to position yourself.

        Know your ideal customer avatar. Make your sales message very clear and address them as specifically as you can.

        Put your business or your offer against your competition. Ideally at the highest level feasible. For example, Avis put themselves in relation to Mavis when they said, "We're number 2, so we try harder" in their slogan. That's solid, easy-to-understand positioning.

        When you position yourself, do it in a way that will last. Don't ride a FAD. Make your message easy to understand in a sentence or two.

        Above all, positioning is first and foremost about inception. It's what happens before you educate your prospect. It's something he knows about you before he's even in your world.
        Excellent post.

        I'm not sure some of the guys here really know what positioning is...

        In fact, I'd even differ from the above a bit, in that stuff like "The most ripped off copywriter alive" and "The Copy Chief" aren't really positioning, though "The Preeminent Business Expert" is...

        "The Marketing Rebel" might be positioning... Depends on what he means by that.

        Positioning has everything to do with USP -- your unique selling proposition -- what makes you special.

        In the world of products, positioning is specialization or image. Mercedes positioning is top luxury. Volvo's is tops in safety. Acura might be quality. Lamborghini might be speed. (I dunno, but you see my point.) It's your angle on the market.

        Positioning isn't generic, eg. being the copywriter who gets great results. That's just something every copywriter aspires to be, thus not positioning at all.

        The copywriter who gets great results in b-to-b, the copywriter who kills it in magazine publishing, the copywriter who also offers design for free, the clickbank copywriter, the copywriter who's always ready to meet you face-to-face, the cheapest copywriter in the business -- those are examples of positioning.

        Ivory soap? 99.9% pure (whatever that means). Zest? "You're not fully clean unless you're zestfully clean." Irish Spring ""Manly, yes, but I like it too" Pure. Thorough. Manly. All just soap, but different positions on the market.

        The makeup specially formulated to cover tattoos? Pssst -- It's just makeup, with great positioning...

        From the business dictionary: Product positioning is "A marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer. Companies apply this strategy either by emphasizing the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.) through advertising...."

        Keywords: "distinct position", "distinguishing features"...
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    • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
      Originally Posted by jessegilbert View Post

      well yeah I like this post...it is very relevant. who wants to have to convince someone of reality?

      So as I see it, intention or positioning would be the bigger picture...the actual copy piece is just like a battle or skirmish...while intention is the overall 'grand strategy'.

      Positioning is huge...it covers broader life or product goals than simply 'Save $50 on Wedding Accessories' etc...

      Thanks this is quality advice...you're right...probably should stop chasing the lower end prospects and go for those who don't need to be convinced.

      It's one thing to educate someone a little who is interested and walk them through it step by step if they are not familiar with specifics or certain technology...it's another thing entirely to convince and prod someone to help themselves when you could be working with the people who will value your work and get the most out of it.

      the only question I have is sometimes it is hard to position if your product or services cover multiple market sectors. I work on positioning extensively...Positioning can go beyond marketing too...I know we are not allowed to talk about these things mostly but even politicians and other people hire copywriters...so positioning goes to the core of what writing and persuasion is about and all else flows from there.

      You've compared copy pieces to a battlefield before and I just don't get this perspective. I'm not fighting my customers. I'm not even fighting my competition (if I believed I really even had any - other copywriters and consultants are my allies, not my enemies). I'm solving problems. I'm providing relief.

      And the struggle with tackling multiple markets is that you can do one thing really well. You can do a bunch of things simultaneously, and it's likely to be mediocre or even really terrible.

      Most smart marketers will choose one angle, master that angle, and then slowly add additional markets and hooks. Trying to take on all possibilities right out of the gate is pretty damn near impossible.
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  • Profile picture of the author onehalf
    Great discussion about positioning!
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  • Profile picture of the author JesseGilbert1
    Banned
    you make some good points angie. I could explain why I see it like I do, but you probably wouldn't understand it anyways...

    p.s. I'm not fighting with customers...not at all. if anything I'm trying to find commonalities with customers.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    If you're not fighting, then why is it a battlefield? Us vs. them?

    You actually COULD explain rather than making assumptions about my level of comprehension.
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  • Profile picture of the author joe golfer
    Kevin Nations has some good ideas on this here (links to short video). This idea took him from $1 million to $4 million in revenue.

    Kevin Nations - The BEST Element of your Offer is Who you are NOT!

    Kevin has worked with many big marketers behind the scenes. He's the real deal.

    Takeaways:

    "It's so much better to find one small space and be the ABSOLUTE DOMINANT person in it, and let all of the other competition go."

    "What challenges us is...here is what I am best at...and people are ready to send me money!...but then over here there are some people with money that want something I'm NOT the best at...so I try to be good at that other thing, too...and I can't build momentum."

    "If you want to get filthy rich as a service business, you have to know who you are not."
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  • Profile picture of the author jessegilbert
    Banned
    there is truth in what u say Angie. but copywriting and persuasion of masses is a related field directly to propoganda and war. Ask Adolph Hitler what he would say about copywriting and how it can influence masses and he'd probably laugh his ass off and remark that half the world will believe whatever they read or whatever is repeated enough times.

    I don't know about you but I might like to get into space age marketing with high-stakes deals, aerospace parts and space travel deals so if we pretend it aint serious with a lot of money at stake and customers well then I say good luck coming at it with the 100% friendly mindset.

    Don't get me wrong...I look to integrate and cooperate wherever possible to leverage connections and technology to make life easier...and there are few things I get more pleasure from in 'professional' life than the occasional chat via skype with other copywriters and collaborating and brainstorming...

    But if a business is directly ideologically opposed well then it's war for influence.

    And having a 'positioning' strategy like Mark said is valuable.

    But the more I think about it, it is as much a battle with yourself as to how you want to go at it.

    "Here's another example:

    As a copywriter...

    I could position my services to go after people who don't understand the value of copy... which is what a LOT of copywriters do.

    Or...

    I can talk with people who have invested in copywriting services multiple times, know its value, made good money... and position myself as someone who understands what top businesses go through to convert.

    I get to CHOOSE who I'm talking with... in the way I enter the conversation."

    See what Mark is saying here is that the default mechanism of the mind can be to go for lowest price, but through rational thought & courage he picks the wiser course of action'

    "Taking your client out of cut-throat competition
    into a place where they rule #1 by using the
    full force of right positioning...I mean, hell,
    it's laughable to those who think copywriting
    is a commodity"

    Right, the cut throat competition for lowest price is war in the stupidest sense.

    "For example, John Carlton is "The Marketing Rebel--The most ripped off copywriter alive." Kevin Rogers is "The Copy Chief." Jay Abraham is "The Preeminent Business Expert" These guys mastered a position in the market place that they can reinforce with their personality, specializations and how they do business. Their ideal prospect, at first glance, could be an entrepreneur in the health industry. And in essence they're offering the same service. The difference is, the entrepreneur thinks of them all differently".

    This explains what I'm saying perfectly. These guys know what they are up against. So they have names like Rebel, Chief, Preeminent etc...All sorts of marketing agencies brand themselves with some authority or other and it is a sort of war so positioning is maybe almost everything.

    Personally I think copywriting comes down to gun play...if a million people repeat the cliche 'the pen is mightier than the sword' then having solid copywriters on your team is probably at least as valuable as having Navy Seals working for your cause or something.

    The words cut-throat competition accurately describe price wars.

    So I think it is essential to have a battle minded strategy when copywriting....

    Angie, Rockstar copywriter is good branding...edgy and fun but not necessarily threatening.

    Me, I take it all the way...The logical, authoritative progression in positioning.

    Jesse Gilbert
    The Copy Prophet

    Some would say blasphemy but I've studied and experienced religion, history and marketing enough to feel almost comfortable making a title like that.

    I can probably make it cool too...in time...but we will see.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    I think THE BEST positioning you can have as a freelance copywriter is to be known for doing great work that produces consistently great results.

    Carving out/dominating a niche, having a memorable hook/tagline/brand/blog/personality/domain name, these can help define and position you, for sure.

    But as a freelancer, being known for doing great work that produces consistently great results is personally the hook I choose to hang my hat.

    Word gets around. Whether I want it to or not.

    Every Client piece I write secondarily becomes an advertisement--for myself. I just let it do its intended job, sit back and watch the magic happen.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: The biggest marketing sin I see freelance copywriters making? It's not that they are trying to sell to marketers who don't know the value of good copy. It's they're a jack-of-all-trades, master of none.

    Focus, people. Focus.

    Focus on writing great copy marketers will pay good money for.
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    • Feedin' yr portfolio sure builds up your choicynichey abs.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
      Originally Posted by RickDuris View Post

      I think THE BEST positioning you can have as a freelance copywriter is to be known for doing great work that produces consistently great results.
      Yup. This.
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