Solving for Y

Sent by Jonathan Stark on January 19th, 2019

Strongly defining a positioning statement for your business and/or your services is a great way to escape the race to zero. It sets you apart from the crowd. It insulates you against clients asking, “Why are you the most expensive?”

Entire books have been written on the subject of positioning. At the risk of oversimplifying, I’ll say this: for folks like us, positioning basically boils down to answering these two questions very clearly:

Who do I most want to help? And what do I want to help them with? 

Answering these questions will give you a very effective reply when someone asks:

“What do you?”

Your answer:

“I help X with Y.”

In this “XY Positioning Statement”, the X is your ideal buyer (i.e., your WHO) and the Y is your ideal buyer’s desired outcome (i.e., WHAT you help them with).

I’ll talk more about picking your WHO tomorrow. For now, I want to talk about solving for Y - i.e., clearly defining your ideal buyer’s desired outcome.

In a business-to-business (B2B) relationship, the desired outcome will be a business outcome. Things like, increased revenue, decreased risk, improved employee moral, stronger customer loyalty, etc.

Please note that “what you help them with” is not things like “frontend development” or “portrait photography” or “content marketing”. These things are your DISCIPLINE. And your discipline is relatively unimportant to your ideal buyers compared to the business outcomes that you can help them achieve.

For example, here is an XY positioning statement as might be completed by a copywriter who wants to help independent software developers. The X is pretty solid, but the Y is discipline-focused:

I help independent software developers with their copywriting.

Here it is again, but this time with a stronger Y that is outcome-focused:

I help independent software developers convert existing traffic into more leads.

Which do you think would be more interesting to an independent software developer who has a very popular blog but almost never gets any leads from it?