November 24, 2014

“Positioning: How To Test, Validate, And Bring Your Idea To Market” Is a Smart Book

What Is Positioning?

Who are you going to call when

  • You have to get a sample or package delivered overnight – guaranteed?
  • You want a pizza in 30 minutes or less?
  • You want to find something quickly on the web?

The companies’ names that came up for you hold that “position” in your mind. And if you choose them every single time this comes up for you, then they have been successful.

Positioning is perhaps the most powerful concept in marketing strategy. It’s the word we give to the strategies you use to differentiate your product from other alternatives. Positioning actually speaks to where or how your product is placed in the mind of your ideal customer. For any business, a good positioning strategy will prompt your ideal customer to think of you whenever they want what you are selling.

Sramana Mitra Brings Context to the Positioning Conversation

When I first start reading Sramana Mitra’s third volume of her Entrepreneur Journeys series, called  “Positioning: How to Test, Validate, And Bring Your Idea To Market,” I thought it was going to be a book about how to differentiate and position your business, product or service. That was not it at all.

If you intend to read this book for specific “how-to’s” to put into practice inside your business – you will be disappointed. The only check list you will find is in the Appendix where there are questions to help you “Clarify Your Story.”

Like all the books in her Entrepreneur Journeys sries, “Positioning” isn’t a book about “how-to’s.”  It’s a book about people. To be more specific, it’s about what I’ll call unsung entrepreneurs. They aren’t celebrities or big-time CEOs. They are, in all cases, remarkable, smart, observant and opportunistic. Her conversations with these entrepreneurs will give you insight and context around how they actually defined a winning positioning strategy for their companies.

Get “Positioning” For the Quality of the Q&A

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t like Q&A formats. But there was a statement in the review copy package that I received that changed my perspective on how I experienced the book:

“The process Mitra takes her readers through is akin to the grilling venture capitalists typically put entrepreneurs through. A grueling test to any business idea, Mitra’s book stimulates a due diligence exercise, which no matter if you are bootstrapping or raising venture capital, you must put yourself through to avoid the various pitfalls that waste valuable time and resources for so many in the business world.”

The effect of this statement on how I experienced the book was profound. I found myself not only reading Mitra’s questions more carefully, but then focusing on how these successful entrepreneurs answered her questions. What I found was an element of specificity and clarity around their businesses that I might have missed, had I simply read the book without this introduction.

Gems Inside “Positioning”

  • Pocket-sized power in a paperback: “Positioning” is condensed and powerful – like those new laundry detergents that promote 300 loads in a 12oz. package. You will want to warm up to the material by reading the table of contents and the introductions to each section to help you identify exactly what aspect of this story or experience you want to learn from.
  • Technical and business trends: If you’re a trendwatcher like me, then you will NOT be disappointed. Not only does Mitra provide valuable insight into some of the upcoming trends in technology, the interviews with the entrepreneurs will show you how they used their personal observations and experience, supported by data to better position their companies for success.
  • Gray nugget boxes: If you’re pressed for time, then you will love these little gray “nugget” boxes that give you words of wisdom one bite at a time. Here’s an example of a couple nuggets:

“In many companies there isn’t a core competency around making their technology systems work.  We believe that in most markets the majority will choose to outsource some functions.” – Brian Jacobs, Emergence Capital

“We made it free to begin with, which allowed users to tackle the learning phase while letting us learn what people wanted.” – Steve Adams, “Sabrix

What Might Frustrate Some Readers

This is a smart book. The language can be sophisticated at times and might require a little reflection and digging on your part if you want to really understand the full significance of the question and the answer. Here is an example of a statement that struck me that way:

“I think your vertical structure will change quite a bit. But you’ll still have your anchor vertical to drive your value proposition off segmented areas.”

The examples are primarily from the world of technology and the Internet. So if you’re a traditional small business looking for specific, easy to implement how-to’s – you won’t find them here. Again, it will require some adapting of these entrepreneurs’ experiences to your own.

Why You’ll Want “Positioning” In Your Library

Positioning is such a powerful component of running a small business that every business owner and marketing person should read absolutely anything and everything that pertains to this topic. What sets Mitra’s Positioning book apart from others is the Q&A format. It’s a different experience from other books which might be case studies or stories about companies and positioning strategies.

Mitra lends perspective to technical trends. This was an unexpected surprise for me. If you’re a small business owner that wants to understand what role technology might play in your business over the next decade, you will get a lot of information and insight into how your business will run using some of the tools and technical products discussed here.

Entrepreneur Journeys Positioning: How to Test, Validate, And Bring Your Idea to Market” is a smart, insightful read that will help you improve your positioning and your profits.

8 Comments ▼

Ivana Taylor - Book Editor


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is Book Editor for Small Business Trends and publisher of DIYMarketers , where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is the President of Third Force, Inc., a marketing firm that specializes in getting your ideal customer to choose you. Ivana is the book editor for Small Business Trends and co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers."

8 Reactions

  1. Ivana: Please tell me the name of the companies? Is the first one, UPS? The second one: Domino’s pizza with new recipe? And the third one is Google, but Bing could be the future pick as a decision engine. Altavista had the position in the past.

  2. @Martin — ahhh – you played the game! The companies I was thinking of were:

    Federal Express
    Domino’s Pizza (the original)
    Google

    Hey everyone! What other companies do you think have strong positions?! Give me your quiz!

  3. Ivana: Thanks for the answers! Do you think that the competitors are creating their position right at this moment? What could UPS’, Papa John’s and Bing’s positioning statements look like?

  4. Interesting read thanks. I If I was looking for something on the web that was a physical branded product then I would use Amazon or Trademe. Positioning is huge I agree, you must stand out from your competitors. Thanks

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