Product Positioning Tips

Four blue chairs, one is yellow with text "positioning strategy"

7 minute read  

Effective product positioning showcases a product’s unique benefits, but getting it right is difficult. Read why it matters, what can go wrong, and learn how to craft messages that resonate with buyers. 


Product positioning is a process that focuses on conveying your product’s value to buyers, resulting in a family of documents that drives all outbound communications. Yet, it seems as if product positioning has “devolved” into a document full of vague superlatives.  

If product positioning is done well, it becomes a powerful tool for companies looking to differentiate their products from competitors. It helps potential buyers more quickly understand how your offerings are different, why they are better, and how they will help them. Product positioning also helps companies to be consistent in their messaging across all channels and touchpoints. 

Product positioning, when executed effectively, serves as a strategic compass, guiding companies to highlight their product’s unique value propositions in a crowded market. In this article we take a closer look at product positioning, what can go wrong, and how to do it right.  

Start from the beginning or skip to the section you’re most interested in:  

The Why of Product Positioning 

Product positioning is important because it helps companies tell their story in a way that resonates with the target audience. It can also help to quickly and easily differentiate a product or service from what competitors are offering.  

Product positioning results in a series of well-crafted documents focusing on the buyer and how your solutions improve their life. The trick to positioning is to understand the product’s value to the buyer. In other words, what problems can you solve for the buyer? Do you know the benefits your customers achieve with your products and services? Not sure? Ask. 

Talk to customers and prospects, as well as sales reps who are on the front lines. Then, talk to executives who have a bird’s-eye view and can help you understand customer needs from a broader perspective. This will provide essential insights that inform the positioning process and, ultimately, result in effective positioning statements. 

Once you have gathered your customer insight, it’s time to create an effective product positioning statement that clearly explains how customers benefit from your product offerings.

A product positioning statement should provide clear guidance on the product’s target market, key benefits, competitive advantages, and expected customer outcomes. 

When positioned properly, messaging should be succinct and easily understood. While you want to be concise, make sure that your statement is clear and detailed enough for people to understand your product’s or service’s value.   

The Problem with Insincere Product Positioning 

Much of the writing we see in marketing materials seem insincere. It’s as if the writer wants to fool the reader into thinking the product is more important than it is. Or that the product solves problems better than the competitor’s when it doesn’t.  

If your product is inferior, no amount of product positioning can fix it. A product must be adequate for the market need to succeed; no amount of marketing can overcome this truth. 

Many organizations create cute or clever taglines that don’t convey meaning. But cute doesn’t work in B2B (and maybe not in B2C either). What does General Electric Company (GE) expect us to think about its ‘Imagination at Work’ tagline from 2005? 

Can we use GE products to spark the imagination? Are their products only found in the workplace? A Google search for this phrase generates over 374 million pages ranging from childcare facilities to books. How meaningful is the phrase to consumers of GE products? 

The current slogan of GE is: “We Bring Good Things to Life.” This is a bit more tangible, especially given their industry. 

The lesson here is not to be too clever in your positioning. Your words must convey a focused message that will resonate with the target audience. Product positioning should provide clear differentiation from competitors and communicate how your product or service meets customer needs. Don’t try to fool the market into thinking you are something you’re not or can do something you can   

Solving Problems Versus Speaking Specs 

As an industry, we wallow in technical jargon and assume that the reader can connect the specs to their problems. Or we hope that our salespeople can connect the dots. 

How unfair to both buyer and seller! Product positioning and the subsequent marketing materials and sales tools should explain the value and use specifications to support our promises. It should be clear enough to convey this message to our sales teams and, if necessary, to the buyer. 

Compare these two product descriptions posted on eBay for the same product:   

First, the specification-oriented listing: 

 This is a trailer-mounted z-boom model # TMZ-34/19. This is a 2000 model Genie. This is a great value and innovation in the trailer-mounted boom market. It is all-electric, which is economical, and it has four new batteries and new tires. It has a spare tire. The working height is 40 feet. 19 ft horizontal reach, articulating jib has 130-degree working range, Compact 34-inch width, 500 lb. lift capacity, Large 8 in outrigger footpads, Junction box, shelf, and tie-down attachment points to accommodate generators up to 2500 W, Non-marking footpad covers, AC outlet in the platform. It also has Surge Brakes, Parking Brakes, Horn. 

I am the original owner, and this has only been used about 40-50 times It is in excellent working condition. I own a sign shop and have used it when working on billboards. If you have any additional questions, you can email me, and I will get back to you. I will also be willing to meet someone within a 300-mile radius.   

Now a problem-oriented listing (for the same product): 

This is an excellent lift because you don’t have to maintain a gas or electric engine. You hook it up to your vehicle, tow it into position, drop the four outriggers, and go up. Great for trimming trees, construction, or any job needing a 40-foot reach! 

This unit is a 1999 model that was factory refurbished (including new batteries) in 2002 and stored inside a hangar. It has been used for about 10 hours since it was overhauled. The tires have about 300 miles, including a new spare tire. It looks and operates like new. 

This lift has a 500-pound capacity but is narrow enough to fit through many man doors. Plug it in, charge it up, and you are ready for a full day of powerlifting! 

You can pick it up, or I am willing to tow the lift to one of the shipping firms in [town name] who can flatbed it to your location. All shipping arrangements and fees are the responsibility of the buyer. 

For more details and specifications, go to <link to manufacturer’s product page.  

You don’t have to look too closely to notice the specification and jargon in the specification-oriented listing versus the listing talking to the buyer in buyer language. The problem-oriented message left the specs out but provided a link to the manufacturer’s spec page. 

And the results? The specification-oriented description was listed for two weeks with no bids. The problem-oriented listing sold for the same price as the competitor’s minimum bid in four days and three hours.   

A Product Positioning Template 

Most technology companies use a template, and often a formula, for their product positioning. This builds efficiency into the process of bringing products to market. Using the following formula, you can make your own product positioning statements more efficiently.  

First, remember that the best product positioning aims to solve a problem for a specific type of buyer. That means that there are multiple product positioning documents, each conveying a product’s value in terms that resonate with the specific buyer persona. 

Now, you’ll start with the industry’s generic problem and the ideal solution, which is basically what your product does. Then provide a short primary message, 25 words that you want the buyer to remember. Follow this with a more detailed product description that aligns with the buyer’s need. 

Finally, describe the three to five relevant features of the product that are more likely to resonate with this buyer profile. 

And remember, it takes many different people within an organization to make a purchasing decision for a complex product. Typically, we see a financial buyer, a technical buyer, and one or more user buyers.  

Each of these buyers has a different primary goal and sees product information differently. The user buyers want to know how the features will make their daily job different and better. The financial buyer wants to know how the product will save money for the company. In contrast, the technical buyer is primarily concerned with how the product will fit into the existing technology environment. And all buyers want to be assured that the product will satisfy the needs of the users of the product. 

How can we use one message to communicate with multiple buyers? We can’t! We’ll need different articulations of our message that resonate with each buyer type.    

Company, Family and Product Positioning Strategies 

Products and services, as well as families of products, all follow the same method. Within the company’s overall message, we articulate how the product, service, or product family solves problems for each type of buyer. 

For example, we can assume that Microsoft has product positioning documents for Microsoft Word (product), Microsoft Office (product family), and Microsoft Corporation (company). This is evident since each product’s positioning message is consistent. 

Ideally, product positioning must amplify the company positioning. It may not matter if you do the product or company first, but the product positioning must support the company positioning.  

Product positioning has two main benefits. The one obvious to all marketers is the consistency of the message. Each marketing and sales piece communicates precisely the same message. 

A less obvious benefit, but perhaps the more important one, is that the positioning process forces product management to identify and spell out clear benefits for each type of buyer. Without a clear message, most products are doomed to failure. 

Crafting effective product positioning requires a deep understanding of your target audience’s needs and a strategic approach to communicating your product’s unique value. It’s about speaking directly to the problems your customers face, using language they understand, and avoiding the pitfalls of insincerity and overcomplication. By prioritizing problem-solving over technical jargon and aligning your messaging with the specific needs of each buyer persona, you can create positioning that not only resonates but also converts. 


Want to dive deeper into product positioning? Foundations teaches you everything you need to know and is the starting point for your product management certification.  


  • Pragmatic Editorial Team

    The Pragmatic Editorial Team comprises a diverse team of writers, researchers, and subject matter experts. We are trained to share Pragmatic Institute’s insights and useful information to guide product, data, and design professionals on their career development journeys. Pragmatic Institute is the global leader in Product, Data, and Design training and certification programs for working professionals. Since 1993, we’ve issued over 250,000 product management and product marketing certifications to professionals at companies around the globe. For questions or inquiries, please contact [email protected].

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