Tech company leadership is typically a sprint. Quickly evolving market demands, fast product development cycles, and growth management all contribute to a frenetic pace that can make it hard to maintain an objective eye on how you relate to the market.
Taking time out to uncover valuable perspective can seem impossible when faced with the screaming needs of day to day operations — trust us, we can relate — but calibrating your message to the market can be the most valuable thing you can do for your company’s long-term growth and success.
At the beginning of every new positioning engagement with clients, we suggest their core team of stakeholders associated with their product(s) take time for a strategic discussion to lay the foundation for their brand vision. We provide them with this Positioning Worksheet (download it here) to help them hone in on their goals.
It is an opportunity for their team to really understand their purpose, their customers, and the organization’s DNA in ways that will inform future strategy and empower success. Ideally, this exercise is done off-site in a retreat setting. Objectivity is the key to success here and your office environment is often the least conducive place for this.
We find that the Positioning Worksheet helps the process to begin by getting core values, mission, and vision out on the paper. The purpose of these questions is to quickly identify — as a team — where you are and where you need to get. From there, we can identify how best to communicate that to the market. Although there are many important questions to ask yourself in preparation for a rebrand, here’s are the top takeaways you can expect from this exercise:
1. You Will Better Understand Your Goals
It allows you to discover and articulate the “why” behind what you do: where you are, where you’ve been and where you want to go as a company. Because these types of conversations don’t happen naturally in the daily office grind, we’ve found that this Positioning Worksheet brings up themes and values that probably haven’t been articulated among the group as a whole — at least not explicitly. This exercise leads to new revelations that cut to the core of your organization’s identity and will prove crucial for crafting your messaging and positioning later on.
2. You Will Better Understand Your Customer
Many times, technology companies position themselves as the hero of their story. Our innovative technology, our robust capabilities, our revolutionary breakthroughs… sound familiar? It makes sense that the people who built a groundbreaking software solution would be excited to sing its praises. But if you want to attract customers and gain their trust, you must make your customer as the hero of your story by showing how your technology will solve their most pressing problems and benefit them.
Use this exercise to define your company’s culture, brand, and trajectory. The work done in defining your company’s DNA, especially in the context of your customer’s needs, will lay a solid foundation for establishing your place in the market.
3. You Will See Where Your Solution Fits in the Market
In order to put your customer in the hero seat, you need to make sure that the services and products you’re offering match up with your target buyer personas and that you are communicating that value in a way that resonates with the buyer. This exercise puts you in your prospect’s shoes by asking you to consider the buyer’s biggest problems and how you are uniquely qualified to solve them. We call this exercise of mapping market problems to your capabilities a “Buyer MatrixSM" (taken from the Pragmatic Marketing Framework) and the matrix that comes out of this process will become one of the most valuable tools in your positioning work and marketing strategy as a whole.
4. You Will Be Able to Plan for Long-Term Growth
When it comes to branding and positioning, you can’t just build a brand that fits your company now; you have to think long-term about how your products and services are going to evolve. Questions such as “Place yourself in the future: If your company could do anything, what would it be?” give your team permission to cast a vision for what comes next. Will you have more products? Expanded capabilities? New services? How will they integrate into your existing brand system? Even if these changes are months or years down the road, you need to take them into account when building your brand so that you’ll be ready when it’s time to grow.
Use this Positioning Worksheet as a tool for your team to get on the same page in advance of a rebrand so that everyone in your organization understands (and can articulate) the why behind what you do. Companies have also found this exercise helpful when they find themselves at a critical pivot point in their history, when there’s a general feeling of having “hit a wall”, or when they feel that they have lost a sense of unity, cohesion, and brand consistency.
It’s not always easy to tear yourself away from the day-to-day details of running a business. It can seem counterintuitive to slow down and reflect on where you’ve been as a company and where you want to go. However, your willingness to participate and invest in this part of the branding process will pay dividends in your ability to position your company for success in the marketplace.