Let’s say you’re a product marketing manager for a payroll solution. You want to create your product positioning in a way that makes your unique value easy for buyers to understand and even easier for your sales team to articulate.
The Typical Approach
You could go the typical route and create your product positioning around key features and benefits that most differentiate your product. Here’s the problem with that approach.
In the eyes of the buyer, your product sounds just like every other payroll product and then you’re into splitting hairs on how things work technically. But you’re smarter than that.
Iterating to the Outcome-Based Value Approach
So you take a different approach and create your product positioning around the business outcomes customers most want from a payroll product. For example,
- Make sure everyone gets paid correctly.
- Make sure everyone gets paid on time.
- Make sure all tax, financial and legal compliance requirements are met.
- Make sure it doesn’t take an army of people to accomplish all the above!
You still haven’t hit THE BIG WHY, but you’re in a much better place now because you’re leading with things that you’re 100% certain are important to every buyer.
Your sales presentations and demos are much easier because your value narrative focuses on all the obstacles standing in the way of those four outcomes and how your solution eliminates them.
Better, but you still haven’t addressed THE BIG WHY.
Close the Loop With THE BIG WHYs
THE BIG WHY changes from time to time (in B2B) based on the market dynamics and how they shape the strategic priorities of your target customers from the top down.
Take a tight labor market for example, where it’s hard to find good people and even harder to keep them, especially in markets that employ a lot of hourly workers with high turnover.
It begs the question, “What are my target customers doing to hire and keep good people and how is their payroll function impacted, if at all?”
Cha-ching! You have a direct hit.
Some companies that employ a lot of hourly workers are offering daily paychecks as a benefit to attract new workers and hang on to the ones they have. Perfect!
You now have one BIG WHY. There are likely others.
If you have target customers where international expansion is a top strategic priority, your payroll solution may accelerate those efforts because of your ability to comply with tax, legal and financial requirements in many countries.
There’s another BIG WHY! Keep going. You’ll find more.
Here’s the thing about product positioning that keeps it simple for product marketers.
The four outcomes every buyer wants from a payroll solution aren’t likely to change. The reasons WHY those outcomes are important strategically is what changes.
What that means is your base positioning stays pretty much the same. The headlines (the BIG WHYs) will change and evolve over time. It’s as simple as connecting your base value propositions to the evolving headlines.
It’s those BIG WHYs that make the smaller WHYs (four outcomes) more important.
If companies are going to pay hourly employees every day, the amount of effort required to process payroll has to go from highly efficient to nil (outcome #4). Outcomes 1 & 2 are how your customers keep their promise to hourly employees. Outcome #3 is just expected.
If companies are growing through international expansion, your tax, legal and financial compliance capabilities (outcome #3) better be top notch because of the legal blowback to your customers.
Those BIG WHYs and their relationship to the small WHYs are the single biggest thing that tells your target customers you understand them a whole lot better than your competition.
Remember this. Customers don’t buy because they understand you. They buy because you understand them!
Convincing buyers you understand them better than your competition is how you differentiate. Product positioning is where it all begins.
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by John Mansour on August 8, 2022.