Got $1 Billion? “Differentiate and Thrive” – Part 2

Product Positioning MessageLast post I mentioned how helpful Jack Trout’s book Differentiate or Die has been for me in developing unique product positioning. Now on to the actual construction of a positioning message. For excellent advice I have utilized many times over, I am indebted to past guests from the Boston Product Management Association (BPMA), a Greater Boston professional association of product managers and marketers I was privileged to have served as President and board member for three years.

Product management author Alyssa Dver who has spoken at a number of BPMA events over the years offered this advice during a guest presentation on effective communication for product managers:

Alyssa Dver presented the following sample template to build your own short but sweet product message:

“(Your Company) develops (describe product) that (describe benefit of using). Unlike other solutions, our product (compare to the competition, your unique selling proposition).”

Alyssa Dver went further, offering excellent advice on the actual verbal communication of the positioning message / unique selling proposition. I have found Alyssa’s attention-commanding “flag and flank” strategy very useful during live presentations with large audiences:

Product Managers should also be ready to interject ‘quotables’ – statistics, reference stories, etc. – designed to validate the product message. One especially effective speaking tactic Alyssa Dver recommended to command attention to such quotables is that of “flag and flank.” First, “flag” to your audience that you are about to say something very important (“What I’m about to say is the most important fact about XYZ product”). Follow this by the message you want noticed, and “flank” that message with a concluding comment (“I hope you understand; that is really an important fact”).

You can read my BPMA e-newsletter article on Alyssa Dver’s presentation here .

Billion Dollar Business PlansAnd one of the best-attended BPMA meetings in recent years featured SolidWorks founder Jon Hirschtick and his presentation entitled Billion Dollar Business Plans

 Jon Hirschtick discussed his lessons learned on markets and buying, market risks, product positioning, product design and business plans themselves. These lessons led Jon Hirschtick to go from his first product effort, DesignView, with total sales of $1 million to SolidWorks, which has tallied well over $1 billion in cumulative revenue.

Developing an effective positioning message was a keystone of Jon Hirschtick’s presentation:

Jon shared clear and direct advice on getting product positioning right, including focusing on a strong position statement using this suggested template:

“For (target customers) who (have the following problem), my product (name) is a (product category) that provides (key capabilities). Unlike (reference competitor), our product (key point of differentiation).”

For SolidWorks, Jon said, the positioning statement was: “For engineers who need to move to 3D CAD, Solid Works is a 3D CAD system that costs only $4K, unlike Pro/Engineer, ours is an easy to use windows program.” Definitely a very solid elevator pitch, and the elevator has not yet reached the second floor!

Here too, you can read my BPMA e-newsletter write up of Jon Hirschtick’s Billion Dollar Business Plans here .

These are two resources I go back to again and again when developing effective product positioning statements for collateral, presentations and webcasts. I hope you find them useful too.

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