June 19, 2018

Reader Q&A: “What do you think about this positioning statement?”

List member Josh Angell and I have been exchanging emails about his positioning statement. Take a look (shared with permission):

Josh wrote:

Hi Jonathan, So, I’ve been lurking on your email list for a while now, and recently bought the freelancers roadmap. I honestly haven’t read it all yet, I’m currently working on my positioning … which has always been a bit of a confused point for me. I’ve been running with the following for a little while now, and getting good results I think, though its a little hard to tell as I get a lot of my work through referrals anyway, so I don’t really know if people actually get affected by the blurb bit … but hey, here it is: Specialist Craft CMS Development & Consultancy. Plugins, API integrations, infrastructure setup, complex site builds and more. That was it, and its a pretty accurate description of what I practically do day to day, but, as you have taught us, thats not necessarily the point when it comes to marketing … so, here’s my initial attempt at making it better: I deliver reliable web applications with Craft and AWS, solving critical business objectives without compromising the editorial experience. What do you think? I’m not overly keen on adding an “unlike my competitors…” line, it sounds a bit too aggressive for me personally ... And thank you for your continued emails, they are always useful! –Josh P.S. I actually thought of simply writing “Craft, AWS and nothing else” but figured that was actually not that helpful!

Jonathan wrote:

Hi Josh! Question: who is the idea client for Craft CMS?

Josh wrote:

Good question, I have thought long and hard about that … generally I come up with “content managers that don’t want training“, and by that I mean they don’t want to have to be trained on a weird system that is unintuitive. If they want to add a new news article, doing so should be as obvious it is using Facebook or Instagram. Does that make sense? I’ve now switched to the following: I deliver fast and reliable web applications with Craft that fit with your existing workflow and provide a truly enjoyable editorial experience.

Jonathan wrote:

Do your ideal buyers already have Craft? If not, are they definitely familiar with it?

Josh wrote:

Often they don’t, no and are frequently unfamiliar with it, though I am finding that is changing.

Jonathan wrote:

Gotcha, thanks. Would it be okay if I shared your message with the list and answered it there?

Josh wrote:

Sure, I look forward to it! Thank you again for taking the time to help me out with this, I find I often understand the core messages you share but then find it tricky to apply to my own situation.

Okay, I have three thoughts on this:

1) Target your real buyer—It sounds like the people who would directly use Josh’s solutions are content managers, but I suspect that they are not the actual buyer of Josh’s services. If I’m correct, Josh should probably target the buyer with his message and not the end user.

For example, if Josh’s actual buyer is someone like a managing editor, he should probably be talking about expensive problems that managing editors care about.

Maybe something like, ”Do you keep getting scooped because you can’t get your articles published fast enough?“ or ”Are your content managers on the verge of revolt because your editorial workflow is a disaster?“

2) Connect the dots for your buyer—By Josh’s own admission, it’s unlikely that his buyers have heard of CraftCMS or AWS. So a headline like, ”Craft, AWS and Nothing Else“ would at best be unpersuasive and at worst meaningless to Josh’s ideal buyer.

Positioning yourself as an expert at a particular platform (e.g., CraftCMS, AWS) works best when you pick a platform that your ideal buyer is invested in.

In a case where you have expertise in a platform that your ideal buyer is not invested in, a better approach would be to emphasize the business outcomes that you can create. In other words, connect the dots for them.

Whatever platforms you decide to use to accelerate the client’s business outcomes is largely irrelevant to the buyer, so it makes little sense to emphasize them in your marketing.

3) Possible revisions—The current headline on Josh’s site is:

”I deliver fast and reliable web applications with Craft that fit with your existing workflow and provide a truly enjoyable editorial experience.“

Based on our email thread, I might rewrite it as:

”I help media brands scoop their competition.“

My revision is basically a wild guess because I don’t really know who the buyer is so it’s hard to know what what they might care about. But if we assume that people who manage editorial experiences don’t like getting beaten to market by their competitors, my revision speaks more directly to a possible inner monologue and less about the tools and skills of the seller.

Or if Josh wanted to go for a more aspirational headline, something like this might be worth testing:

”What if your editorial workflow was as quick and easy as posting to Facebook?

Something like this might get the buyer dreaming of a desirable future state that would be miles better for them than the current status quo.


If you want to write copy that connects with people, you need to know who you’re talking to. Otherwise, you will end up talking about yourself and/or using abstract language that doesn’t resonate with anyone in particular.



P.S. Are you having a hard time deciding on a positioning statement for your business? You can learn more in my new book The Freelancer’s Roadmap

P.P.S. Thanks to Josh for sharing!