Yet One More Lame Positioning Statement

That sounds angry and I'm not, really. Just so disappointed that the very firms that are in the business of positioning their clients do such a lame job of doing it for themselves. Yesterday I came across one more, and I'm going to include it below because it's quite typical of firms in the marketing space:

[Pittsburgh firm] is a creative marketing communications firm that delivers fresh ideas and authentic solutions that drive measurable business results.

Our strategic, problem-solving approach generates marketing and communications programs that increase brand awareness, improve sales productivity, increase marketing response, drive revenues, and support business goals.

We plan and implement creative solutions that leverage our clear insight, strategic business skills, team building, proven process, distinctive design and measurement methodology.

We solve real business problems through our integrated services of strategy, branding, design and communications.

For more than 20 years we have put our ideas to work for corporate and non-profit clients–large and small, global and local, established and emerging–including some of the best and biggest brands in the world. Ideas: for a change.

Using this as an illustration, let me pose some questions you can use to evaluate your own positioning:

  1. Is anyone claiming the opposite? "We used to deliver stale ideas and fake solutions, but nobody seemed to warm up to the idea, so we decided to go for fresh and authentic instead." Really? Just tell people what you do and don't throw around adjectives that are already assumed anyway.
  2. Does it sound like marketing speak? These words all fit that category: strategic, problem-solving, increase brand awareness, increased blah blah, drive revenue, support business goals. Looking at just one of those, everything is "strategic" these days, so consider a meatier phrase like "research & insights" (only if it is true). You might enjoy the bullshit bingo that Fortune 1,000 employees play on conference calls. Participants have a list of these words and each one is circles as it is uttered. The first employee to circle all of the words yells "bingo" in the background, anonymously. I love it!
  3. Is it really true? Don't say that you have a measurement methodology if you don't really have one. And I mean a real one, based on solid survey design, possibly running the results through SPSS to surface causation (and not correlation), etc. Otherwise, every bullshit statement we make in this industry slides is further toward marginalization.
  4. Would 97% of prospective marketing clients self-select themselves out of the running? You want them to do that before you get a chance to compromise and agree to do work for them. The prospect is generally more objective about the fit than you are because you may be more interested in opportunity than competence. Our example firm says that they work for non-profits and for-profits alike, established and emerging companies, any size (small, local, global). In other words, they'll take anybody's money and do their best, however good that is. That, my friends, is shameful.

Put a stake in the ground, be truthful about your demonstrated competence, and start earning what you get paid for. I'll raise a glass in toast to your integrity and I'll continue hoping that the marketing industry can be relevant.

Best wishes to you.

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