I worked extra hard last week. It was time intensely spent coaching an accelerating startup through an awkward phase of its growth. The sales team was in town and was complaining that the marketing story was useful to them. In fact, as I listened, it was clear that there were a dozen different stories being told about the company. It was no wonder people were confused. Even worse, I imagined customers were confused.
Confusion like that needs to be ended immediately. Startups cannot afford to get the market confused. The competition works does enough damage without having the company shoot itself in the foot.
You can end the confusion by beginning a fresh effort to clarify the positioning of the company and its product offering. It must be clear in the mind of the ideal customer. It is psychological. You will fit your story into a single unoccupied slot in the head of your ideal customer. The slot must be empty. No other company can be in that slot. There is room for only one company. There can be only one slot for the world's safest car company. The story must be unique. It is not better, faster or cheaper. It is new and very different.
Your slot will be between at least two other slots. One will be the market leader, typically the old fashioned way of solving the problem you are solving. The other will be an earlier startup that has tried but has not yet gotten it right. It is a struggling pioneer. Each is a compay with a name. They are real businesses.
Sales people desire uniqueness. That is what positioning is about. And compared with competitors, the position is able to be defended. Most of all, it is clear. That ends the confusion.
BOTTOM LINE: If you are confused about what story to tell to customers, work harder on your market positioning. That will lead you to clarify your value proposition to your ideal customer. And it will give you a crystal clear story to tell. Your sales people will love you.