Captain’s log, stardate 20161023


Crystalizing your specialization

Sent by Jonathan Stark on October 23rd, 2016

For a few days now I’ve been hammering on the importance of specialization, but it’s mostly all been high-level theory.

I thought it might be fun to shift gears and go low-level by actually putting the theory into practice.

You game? Sweet!

Once you have decided to specialize, it’s beneficial to crystalize your new focus by writing a positioning statement.

So let’s start by defining positioning:


A marketing technique used to make a product, service, or business more memorable. This can done by focusing your marketing messages on a particular facet of your value proposition, unique differentiation from competitors, or a specific target market.

Note that positioning is specifically about how you market your offering and not necessarily about how you define, deliver, or execute the offering. What this means in practice is that you don’t have to actually do your job any differently; you just talk about it differently in your marketing materials.

Having a strong position for your product, service, or business makes it very easy for people to recognize whether or not you have something of value to offer them (or to offer someone they know). This encourages word of mouth, which in this era of real-time global connectivity, is a huge advantage.

I refer to this increased focus in marketing efforts as “niching down” or “pigeonholing yourself”. After niching down to a more focused position, many of my students have experienced what they refer to as “magic” levels of spontaneous referrals and introductions.

Example Positioning Statements

Coming up with a laser-focused positioning statement (LFPS) is deceptively difficult for most people. In terms of form, I recommend following this format:

I’m a [DISCIPLINE] who helps [TARGET MARKET] with [EXPENSIVE PROBLEM]. Unlike my competitors, [UNIQUE DIFFERENCE].

Here are some examples:

I’m a Rails developer who helps dentists with older patients who forget appointments. Unlike my competitors, I use SMS reminders which work on both smart phones and dumb phones.

I’m a Web designer who helps Fortune 500 retailers with abandoned shopping carts on their e-commerce sites. Unlike my competitors, I use A/B tests to focus on the bottom line instead of wasting time with arbitrary design changes.

I’m a digital marketing consultant who helps financial advisors attract younger clients. Unlike my competitors, I focus specifically on the intersection of millennials and financial services.

I find that many people have an extremely hard time filling in the blanks to create a LFPS for their overall business because it triggers an identity crisis. If this is true for you, it can be useful to first focus on the central value proposition by completing a shortened format. For consulting services:


Here are some examples:

I help dentists decrease their no-shows.

I help Fortune 500 retailers decrease the number of abandoned e-commerce shopping carts.

I help financial advisors attract younger clients.

If coming up with an LFPS for your overall business proves to be too daunting, pick a product or service and write an LFPS for that instead. Here’s a version for a product or service:


Here are some examples:

Rogaine helps balding men recapture their youthful appearance.

The Side-Hustle Podcast helps web developers go from dead-end job to lucrative self-employment.

MobileRetrofit™ helps credit unions identify opportunities to quickly increase member acquisitions on mobile devices.

Your Turn

By following this stucture, can you come up with a positioning statement for your business? Or for a product or service that you offer?

Go ahead and give it at try. It’s really hard at first but keep at it for a few days. Once you end up with someting that you think is fairly solid, feel free to send my way and I’ll review. (PLMK if it’s okay to share with the list when you do)




share on twittershare on linkedinbrowse the archive