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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.
 

Build A Competitive Positioning Grid to Help Your Staff Stay on Message

 
Last week, Fire Enterprises (FEI) marketing maven Marka told savvy salesperson Zoot and FEI tribe leader Org about two crucial components of an effective messaging document. This week, Marka discusses how building a competitive positioning grid can help FEI’s staff stay on message and counter buying objections. Remember, fire = print.

Zoot and Org sat in Org’s office, listening as energetic Marka continued talking about creating a messaging document for FEI.

“A main goal of FEI’s messaging document is to arm our salespeople and customer-facing staff with responses to common questions about—and objections to—FEI,” Marka said. “How our staff answers these questions could mean the difference between a prospect walking out the door and signing on the dotted line. And one of the most common questions they’ll hear is ‘What sets you apart from competitor X?’ Or, my favorite: ‘Competitor Y does this—can you do this?’”

“So what’s the solution?” Org asked.

“Our messaging document should include a competitive positioning grid that breaks down how FEI is differentiated from our main competitors,” Marka said. “This document will help our staff become conversant on FEI’s key competitors, their key messages and brand, and what sets us apart. Then, when questions about competing solutions inevitably arise, they’ll have an intelligent, on-message answer.”

Marka scribbled on the whiteboard:

Competitor

Message/Brand

How FEI’s Differentiated

Flintstone

Convenient fire solution. No more waiting around for runners.

FEI’s helpful customer service does all the install work and handles any problems. Higher-quality fire: Proven to burn longer, cook food better, and provide more light.

Pyro

Cost-sensitive fire solution. Lightning-quick service. Runners all over Olympus.

Pyro may sometimes get there first, but FEI smokes Pyro when it comes to overall delivery rates. More dependable service and much more reliable products.


“If needed, we could build out this grid further, countering Flintstone’s and Pyro’s main benefits and products with FEI’s equivalents,” Marka said. “Now, every FEI solution may not beat Flintstone’s and Pyro’s hands-down—if they did, these competitors probably wouldn’t be in business. But we can show that we offer a differentiated solution.”

“What else might our messaging document include?” Zoot asked.

Marka scribbled more on the whiteboard:

  • Further defining target markets
  • Positioning statements for all FEI products
  • Longer company and product descriptions

Throughout the next week, Marka, Zoot, and Org worked together to develop this messaging document. They distributed the final version to all customer-facing employees, instructing them to memorize it and keep it at the ready.

Over the next few months, the three team leaders noticed a definitive change in the way FEI employees talked to customers—and how customers responded. Months later, after Numo had tallied up FEI’s 2Q sales results, anybody with two eyes (not to mention Cecil the Cyclops) could see how better messaging in FEI’s sales and customer-service departments had positively impacted their bottom line.

Next week: Marka discusses how basic text-only broadcast email communications can achieve results.

Today’s FIRE! Point

Create a competitive positioning grid detailing your competitors’ key selling messages and how you’re differentiated. If needed, do the same for each of your main products, and your competitors’. Distribute this document to your marketing department and all customer-facing staff. Then, when questions about competing solutions inevitably arise, they’ll have an intelligent, on-message answer.

FIRE! In Action: Consider Humor in Messaging
A memorable, funny and self-deprecating message can draw attention to your brand. Buckley’s has built a cough syrup empire on the slogan “It Tastes Awful. And It Works.”

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