What is it?
The Positioning and Messaging Lab (PML) is an interactive work session run by VisionEdge Marketing for the purpose of creating the foundation for a company or productís strategic positioning and messaging.
Why is it necessary?
Smart managers realize that they have little chance of achieving revenue goals and building shareholder value if their company/product is not strategically positioned in the marketplace and if key messages arenít believable. Poor positioning contributes to long sales cycles, low close rates, customer confusion, channel indifference and sales organization discord.
Over 80% of the companies who participated in a recent survey said that their teams needed to adjust or re-think their companyís positioning strategy. Unfortunately many of these companies will attempt to develop their strategic positioning platform and key messages internally without assistance from outside the organization. This approach often results in vague, pompous, myopic, and unbelievable positioning. The reason for this failure is that office politics and deeply in-bred biases heavily influence internal teams. We call this “drinking too much of your own Kool-Aid.”
Who from my organization participates?
We have found that the most productive labs are those that include senior representatives from each customer-facing department in the organization. For typical product companies this means customer support, sales, marketing, and product marketing are among those that should participate. For service firms the list can include project managers, technicians, sales managers, and partners.
PML sessions flow more smoothly with 4-10 participants.
What is the process?
The PML process is based on the proprietary Accomplish ™ methodology perfected by VisionEdge Marketing over many years in scores of consulting engagements. Participants tell us the labs are challenging, enlightening, fun, and rewarding. But the labs are also hard work. Participants should come to the PML expecting to be fully engaged in the process.
The process involves discovery, prioritization, analysis, decision-making, and creativity. Through fast-paced discussions, exercises and role-playing the critical elements for a strategic positioning platform are assembled. The following ground is covered: Business, category, and industry trends; competitive strengths and weaknesses; product strengths and weaknesses; purchase criteria and more.
It is important to note that this process involves an ìinside-outî perspective in that the information and opinions that are worked with in the PML are from your organization only. VEM highly recommends linking a research project to a PML. (See question below about optional services).
What preparation by my organization is required?
What are the deliverables?
Within 48 hours of the PML you will receive a Word document containing notes from the lab.
What are the outcomes?
As a result of the PML you will have a clear idea of how your company or product should be positioned to be successful in the current marketplace. You will have a rough draft of a positioning pyramid that defines the following:
- Value: what does the customer most value that you provide?
- Brand promise: what can the customer count on you for?
- Value proposition: why should the customer buy from you?
- Meaningful point of difference: how are you different from your competitors?
- Concept of singularity: what is the single thing you want to be known for?
- Positioning strategy statement: a shorthand description of the product or company that integrates the five components into a concise, compelling and meaningful description under 100 words in length.
- You will also have a rough draft for a messaging map from which you can build the key messages that support the value proposition.
Together, the Positioning Pyramid and Messaging Map provide the blueprint for all communications about your company or product. In fact the Brand Promise should be viewed as the essence of your entire organization, its DNA.
Why VisionEdge Marketing?
VEM provides a very hard-nosed, experienced, and strategic viewpoint. The facilitator and assistant bring over 50 years of combined B2B marketing experience into the room with your team. This deep experience building brands and fighting for market share has honed their insights and instincts to a sharp edge.
The PML methodology has proven time and again to achieve the customerís goals. The PML is a highly efficient and effective use of marketing resources.
What other companies have used the lab?
The PML has been used either by itself or as part of a larger consulting engagement by dozens of companies ranging from early-stage companies to billion-dollar corporations. Software companies, hardware companies and service companies have taken advantage of the PML. References can be provided upon request.
Who facilitates the lab?
The president of VisionEdge Marketing, Laura Patterson, leads the PML. A senior member of the VEM team assists her.
How long does the lab last?
Typically, a PML will last five hours.
How much does the PML cost?
Compensation is surprisingly affordable for companies of all sizes.
Where is the location of the lab?
VEM recommends that the PML be conducted in a neutral location away from your office. The facility arrangements are your responsibility, however VEM can recommend a number of suitable meeting locations.
Is the lab tailored to the needs of my organization?
Absolutely. VEM invests time prior to your PML to become familiar with the subject company and tailor the lab exercises. We maintain a somewhat superficial level of knowledge going into the PML in order to maintain our objectivity.
Are there any optional services to augment the lab?
Yes. The PML is often combined with other services from our SmartStart Services Suite™.
The most common addition is QuickStart Service™, a qualitative research methodology that surveys customers and prospects to obtain valuable insight on needs, perceptions and preferences relating to a product category. VEM uses this ìoutside-inî view in combination with the PML’s “inside-out” perspective to provide guidance for positioning, messaging, and product strategy.
A second popular addition to PML is our JumpStart Service™. This methodology compares the findings from the PML with an analysis of the competitive landscape to fully develop, refine, and test a Positioning Pyramid and Messaging Map.
A third popular addition to a PML is the MarketSmart Service™ that profiles and sizes market segments for more effective target marketing.