Market positioning was the topic of an email sent to my list the other day. It about a drunken whore in the gutter. It wasn’t gratuitous filth.
In fact, it wasn’t filth at all, and it contained an important market positioning message for anyone with the wherewithal to look for it.
But that’s the point: looking takes effort, and divining the message a bit of thinking. Heaven forfend we actually have to do some work to make our businesses successful.
Here’s the message I sent in Fig 1, a classic example of the way I do my own market positioning:
I had a few responses to it, and only one negative.
It said simply this:
“Dont (sic) like your vocabulary used in the emails you sent to me.”
Then it’s best he does go because it’s not going to change (and why do these people always feel the need to tell you how offended they are? Reminds me of the sad people who ring the BBC to complain about “bad language” on the box, when they could much more easily just turn the damned thing off).
My getting emails like this is nothing new. I get one or two whenever I post anything a little risque or edgy. It goes with the territory and tells me I’m doing something entirely right (more on that in a moment). Market positioning is as much about driving away the business you don’t want as it is about attracting the business you do want.
But what made this one all the more amusing and poignant was the other email I had about my style in general from a lady, Liz, who really does know her onions.
She’s a superb telemarketer who built up a high-end dating agency herself and sold eye-wateringly expensive “I need a good seeing to” packages over the phone (joking aside, dating agencies and websites are great — I met Sarah through a dating website and I heartily recommend it).
Moreover, Liz has the kind of voice Joanna Lumley would die for. I could sit and listen to it all day (so if you’re looking for a high-end telemarketer, let me know and I’ll pass your name along).
Anyway, Liz emailed me and said:
“Meanwhile Jon, I have been taking a look at some of the material you are selling on your own account. I must say I am very impressed with your style with its mixture of humour and irreverence – do you write it in the local pub? Not surprised you are busy – your work is excellent”
Praise indeed from a Lady Who Knows About These Things.
This wasn’t the only email I had about my style and market positioning this week:
Leon from Limerick said:
Hey jon. Just wanna say i love reading your emails everyday. Thanks for sharing them.
Nial said about a different email:
Thanks Jon another rollicking good read. I enjoy the irreverent nature of your posts and although thus far I am not a paying customer, you have very much curried favour with me by virtue of the non-bullsh!t approach (in an industry full of it).
I particularly enjoyed:
“I embrace the fact no matter what I do, someone is going to hate me for it… so I may as well make sure at least one person is happy… and please myself. You can’t be all things to all men and women, and you’re an idiot even to try”.
Wise words indeed and a philosophy I would fully subscribe to. It reminded me of a breakfast morning with Paddy Power of Paddy Power, who was talking about their frankly brilliant guerilla marketing over the years. Huge publicity generated by the Mary Whitehouse’s of this world and they were able to cash it all in because their own irreverent, humorous approach played brilliantly with their target audience (male 18 – 45).
Know your audience I suppose.
Keep it coming,
But isn’t it ironic?
The first correspondent is clearly looking for help with his business (that’s why he was reading my emails rather than me reading his), yet chooses to forego it because he doesn’t like the way the message is delivered; and Liz knows, without even asking, what I do, works.
Shooting the messenger never was a smart idea, and it’s no wonder even the Mongols took a dim view of it.
To put it another way: this is NOT Sparta.
My Market Positioning Is NOT An Accident
I do things the way I do them for very good reasons.
Just yesterday I had the privilege and the pleasure of telling a well-known lowlife and scammer who was trying to enlist my help to go forth and multiply. You’d probably recognise his name, and if you Googled it you’d soon discover what species of pond-slime he is.
His answer, wholly ironic in the circumstances, was to call me “unprofessional” and to tell me I’d “missed a great opportunity“.
And yes, I undoubtedly missed out on a great deal of money.
But the point is my decision was instantaneous and very, very easy — because I have rules about the way I run my life and business (and one of them is not getting involved with pond-slime, no matter what the potential returns).
See, I decided a very long time ago to run my business my way. I work with whom I want to, when I want to, at the price I want to, and only if I want to.
I can do this because of my market positioning. I’ve set myself up very carefully so only certain kinds of people will want to do business with me.
And I started doing that long before the numbers in my bank account were telling me I could. In fact, I’ll go further and say if I hadn’t chosen that course, it’s unlikely the numbers would have ever told me I could.
Market Positioning Helps Me Make Money
Money per se is not a big motivator for me, but that’s fundamentally what my business exists for (because if it doesn’t make money, then I don’t have a livelihood). I also love my business, precisely because I’ve arranged it to run the way I want it to run.
Market positioning is a statement of what you stand for.
Market positioning clearly differentiates you from your competitors.
Market positioning helps you avoid the trap of trying to be all things to all men and women, and ending up being nothing to anyone.
To reiterate what Niall commented upon: I embrace the fact no matter what I do, someone is going to hate me for it… so I may as well make sure at least one person is happy… and please myself. You can’t be all things to all men and women, and you’re an idiot even to try.
It’s a concept forming a large part of what we in the biz call “market positioning” and while for some it’s an act, for most of us it isn’t. I’ll not deny it’s uncomfortable at first because it means doing things very differently from how “everyone knows” you’re “supposed” to do them, like by replying to asshats like the chap above telling him how sorry you are and you’ll try better to be “nice” in future.
But there’s no doubt it works (and when I get complaints like the one above, I know I’ve done my job — because for every person I’ve pissed off with my market positioning, I’ve made another two love me a little more. It’s called “polarisation” and none of the “gurus” talk about it because they don’t know about it, I suspect).
It all makes us more effective as business owners and, perhaps surprisingly, it means we can give our clients and customer better service (we have fewer of them, they pay more, and they’re more committed).
It automatically confers upon us a certain status and a deserved air of exclusivity — both of which make commanding high fees easier (all underpinned by the ability to deliver results, of course).
And, best of all, it makes running a business a lot more fun.
Market positioning is fundamental to your business success, too, if only you but knew it.