Go on a Brandventure 🥑

Positioning Applied

spiced advice Feb 14, 2023

How to use your Positioning Statement to seed your brand strategy.

I’ve been marching up and down the beach, beating my drum for positioning. I’m telling everyone who will listen: take the time to write a positioning statement and your marketing will flow like the chocolate in the River Wonka.

Most entrepreneurs and high-achieving professionals pushing a brand boulder up the hill have a singular complaint: when it comes to marketing, I don’t know what to say.

This kinda internal handwringing can cause communication paralysis. We know we need to make real connections, beyond the likes. The magic is in the comments… and for that to happen, things need to be comment-worthy.

You need a blend of content (and context!) that inspires, educated, motivates, and demonstrates. We’re looking for storytelling. (I don’t need to tell you that. If you’ve read this far, that little marketing gem has been hammered into your head a gajillion times in webcasts, podcasts, blog posts, and emails.)

You know what’s a whole lotta easier to execute across a robust and meaningful brand/content strategy? A plan, that’s what.

Stop pacing the room wrestling with the daily struggle that is “hmmm, what to post on social.” Quit spending countless hours weighing out the pros-n’-cons and doing All. Of. The. Follow-up.

When it comes to vetting a new lead, know instantly if this is your kinda work with your kinda people.

Start making a small group of intensely committed people very happy by talking to them about the things they care about in a voice they can relate to — and respond to.

Do it with Positioning.

Last year I shared how the sausage is made on a solid Positioning Statement.

Yes. And?

So, you’ve done the intensely soul-searching work and crafted a mighty fine positioning statement (or if you haven’t this will help https://www.stonedfruit.com/positioning-messaging) You’ve shared your positioning statement with your business besties and everyone agrees: #nailedit.

You’ve got your north star for marketing and messaging, You know just who your people are and just what they need. You know who you are and what you deliver. What’s more, you can articulate why you are different/better/The One… and you can do it in a way that people can really get with.

Your pencils are all in a row on your desk and your notepad is fresh and ready for brilliant ideas. <cue the loud, impenetrable tick of a watched clock> …..

Now what?

Applying a positioning statement is as easy as breaking down the elements and plugging into your content strategy as appropriate, things that when consistently executed create a cohesive and compelling connection with your audiences.

  • [FOR] Who are our people? This is the center of our target. Talk only to them. Other people will still find the conversation interesting, I promise. (e.g., You don’t have to be an athlete to love Nike.) Talk about things that are of interest to them or adjacent to your industry. Acknowledge their struggles. Make them feel seen. Celebrate their victories. Feel their pain. Make them feel like part of a community.
  • [WHO NEED] What do they need? Your people have some pretty powerful things in common. They all need something that you can make manifest with your products and/or services. Breadcrumb the Buyer’s Journey by immersing yourself in their needs. Show them how you can change their lives for the better. Tell them stories where you already have.
  • [<YOU> ARE/IS] Who am I? Listen, friends, mamma has a lecture. This is no time for trendy marketing language. If you are a makeup artist, you are a makeup artist. No one can understand “personal branding transformation coach.” This matters because when people are confused, they walk away. When your marketing works, you have the floor — for a hot minute. Make it make sense. (You can be cute another time and/or in other ways.) Tell stories about your industry and pull back the curtain on the profession. Help me understand why what you do is so dang important/interesting.
  • [THAT DELIVERS] What do I sell? Give me a menu so I can understand what to buy. Workshops, coaching, and keynotes? YES! Bookkeeping and virtual CFO stuff? Winner. All-in-one-video-production services? Great, now I know who to call. Promote your products and services that paints a clear path to buying.
  • [BECAUSE ONLY] Why am I the One? Is this work your jim-jam? Why? What makes you a better fit than the “other guy?” Get on your soapbox! This is YOUR differentiator; own it. The stories around your “why” are the things that people truly connect with. Be a voice for <YOUR THING>.

<wipes off hands on apron>. Well, that’s it, kids

…. or is it?

All of this sounds pretty good in theory, but it may not be entirely clear how to make this methodology work for you. Let’s see it in action. When you apply this to each and every infinitive in your marketing mix, you’ll soon find you’ve built a robust and relatable brand.


Scalia Law, a Brandstory

Get ready for a #humblebrag, y’all. I’m lucky enough to partner with King Productions + Virginia Livestream on some pretty fun projects.

It’s right smack dab in the middle of my “zone of genius.” I love to unbox a brand via some intense team workshopping and repackaging it up pretty for strategic planning and marketing mixin’.

Paul does things the right way. He wants his clients to have a clear direction and tangible goals. What’s more, he wants crystal clear messaging for storyboarding and scripting. Before he shows up with a camera crew and all the fixins, he guides his clients through thorough intensive strategic planning.

In this case, the Scalia Law Admissions Department needed a Virtual Tour video.

Nothing could ever stand in for the experience of a freshly-scrubbed prospective student traipsing around the campus with one of their earnest tour guides, of course, but COVID meant virtual, no exceptions.

The Admissions Department put together a plan of attack to showcase the campus and programs. Affordable, accessible, and a real-career builder, Scalia Law had a lot to offer someone seeking to apply their JD in a myriad of ways.

But how to give it heart and soul in an online experience? More importantly, how can we inspire the call to action: apply?

Bringing Student Life to life in 2020 with video storytelling and branded content.

The answer, of course (and with transparent self-interest, of course), was in razor-sharp messaging and brand strategy. And this is where I come in.

We met via ZOOM, and for 90-minutes we hammered out a positioning statement. No one on the team had trouble articulating the many things there are to love about Scalia Law School, but the struggle was real when it came to attracting a good number of healthy applicants.

The team came to the table with a collaborative mindset and we worked as a group to perfect each aspect of a cohesive, compelling — and completely true — positioning statement.

We also identified marketing “buckets,” the three-legged stool of our storytelling strategy: The art: of becoming a lawyer (i.e., launching a great career); The experience: A plethora of opportunities and options (make it exceptional); The sense of place: Access to DC, a lawyer’s town, an urban center, chock full of intellectual property, heated debate, and getting things done.

Noooowwwww, we know what to talk about, and to whom. Let’s break it down:

  • [FOR] future lawyers ;-) Set a tone of voice that invites students seeking a professional education to the coolest club you know: lawyers. Law school trains your brain; immerse your audience in the language and culture of this unique occupation.
  • [WHO NEED] a tight-knit community, real-world experiences, and access to forward-thinking mentors. Show them a thriving, multi-faceted community of students from every walk of life and every world view, in pursuit of the educational foundation and connections they need to launch a great career at Scalia Law. Highlight access to faculty, practical labs, and internships.
  • [SCALIA LAW IS THE] Virginia state law school in the heart of the DMV (the epicenter center of government, law, policy, and technology. Make DC/NoVa key players in your narrative. What kind of options and opportunities would one have by being so close to DC? Affordable state school tuition stands alone amongst private school colleagues like Georgetown, GW, and Howard.
  • [THAT DELIVERS] the educational foundation, the opportunities, and the options to launch a dynamic career. Show me resources. Tell me success stories. Let me project myself into future internships and teaching opportunities. Let me be a fly on the wall at Courtroom Lab or Bar Prep. Help me to learn the Art of Becoming a Lawyer.
  • [BECAUSE] you only go to law school once… make it a top-tier, value-driven, exceptional experience. Enter FOMO. You only go to law school once. This is one of the most critical times in your professional development, why leave it up to chance? (Or incur oodles more student loan debt, TBH.)

Noooowwwww, we have a content plan.

There are a plethora of blog posts, podcasts, videos, social media posts, website content, and sales materials to be mined in this short list alone, any of which can be developed with ease.

Brainstorm as many as you can, plot them onto a spreadsheet, develop the copy / media, and voila! You have a fully realized content plan that could last 18-months. The best part? When you are extremely focused and consistent in your messaging, you become a brand that people can believe in.


Let’s apply it to the Virtual Tour.

Storyboards, scripts, and stakes:

Future lawyers, meet the Antonin Scalia Law School - George Mason University.

Once we had a positioning statement and the three marketing “buckets,” we could get down to business. The team was chomping at the bit to get to the actual video production and were anxious to see a storyboard, a script, and a shoot date on the calendar.

#sidebar Hip-Hip-Hurray for effective teaming. We have the nimble ability to get things done in short order.

Armed with our positioning statement, brand strategy, and talking points PLUS the location list, I set out to create the storyboard and the script.

To storyboard the flow of the video, apply the Elements of Storytelling. You need to meet the hero (Student Life at Scalia Law), understand their need/goal (onboard great students), get invested in what’s at stake (the quality of your law school experience), overcome obstacles (learn how to be a lawyer, feel at home, get valuable experiences), undergo a transformation (be part of a great culture), and live life as a changed wo/man (launch a dynamic career.)

See how many you can find. ID the talking points come directly from the Positioning Statement and Messaging “buckets.”

By defining goals on Day 1 (get great applicants) and answering the key questions (who are my people? what do they need? who am I? what do I deliver? why am I different/special/The One)... the marketing nearly writes itself.

And that, my friends, is how to apply a Position Statement to your marketing/brand strategy.

Learn how to position yourself, your organization, any project or initiative and you’ll bake a clear, concise content plan into the foundation of your marketing mix. Do that — and reply to comments that engage with your branded content  — and forge the kind of relationships with your people that flows like an endless mountain spring of that sweet, sweet, brand loyalty.