Positioning vs. Messaging. The Dynamic Duo of Your B2B Marketing.

March 6, 2024 / Marjoram

In the competitive world of complex B2B marketing, you succeed by capturing attention quickly and resonating on an emotional level with your prospects. How do you achieve this? By focusing on your positioning and messaging. Often used interchangeably — despite key differences between them — positioning and messaging are the dynamic duo of any rational brand marketing strategy and the key to your complex B2B product marketing success.  

Complex B2B brands often confuse positioning and messaging due to their close connection within marketing strategies. Positioning defines your brand or product’s unique space in the market. It focuses on differentiation and the value it provides to the prospect. Messaging is the expression of that position through words and images. 

Confusion most often occurs when you focus on crafting clever content before you have a clear positioning strategy, leading to messages that do not accurately communicate the unique value you provide. Effective messaging first requires solid positioning to ensure consistency and clarity in all communication.

A Partnership in Concert

Imagine you’re at a music festival, surrounded by a bunch of stages, each blasting their own tune. In this cacophony, your brand is a band trying to lure a crowd to its stage. Positioning? That’s choosing your stage location and deciding which type of music to play. It’s all about shaping your unique sound, making sure it will resonate with the exact crowd you want to attract and not simply everyone who wanders by. 

Messaging is how you get your sound out there. It’s the lyrics, the posters, and the catchy snippets you share on social media. It’s your tune translated into compelling words and images so when someone hears it, they think, “Hell yeah, that’s my jam!”

Mixing up the two is like posting a classical orchestra’s poster outside a heavy metal stage. To stand out in the market’s endless festival, knowing your stage (positioning) and how to blast your song (messaging) is critical. It’s the difference between playing to a packed crowd or an empty field. 

Positioning: The Foundation for Differentiation

Positioning is the strategic process of defining how your B2B brand or product occupies a unique and valuable space in the minds of your ideal prospects, compared to your competitors. This crucial comparison is about establishing a fixed place in their mind, so they understand why your product or brand is the best fit for their specific needs.

“Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.” ~ Al Reis & Jack Trout, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Steps to Creating an Effective Position:

1. Assessing Your Value: 
The heart of positioning lies in understanding your product or brand’s value (Unique Selling Proposition) as it applies to a prospect segment. What are the distinctive benefits or characteristics that set your brand or product apart from competitors — and why would your prospects care? 

2. Analyzing the Market:
Positioning is about where you fit in a market. Who do you compete with? How are you better or different than them? Who are our ideal prospects and why? Why would they choose you over someone else? It’s about the value you provide that no one else can. By aligning your brand or product’s value with the specific needs of the audience, positioning creates a relevant space to occupy.

3. Addressing the Competition:

A strong positioning strategy focuses on differentiation and how you use that to address the competitive landscape. Positioning articulates how your B2B brand or product outperforms your competitors or fulfills a specific need for your prospects, establishing a clear difference between you and the field.

Messaging: The Art of Framing the Problem  

Messaging is the art of crafting persuasive and compelling language to communicate your B2B brand or product’s value to your ideal prospects. It frames the positioning strategy into powerful communication strategies that resonate with and attract an audience.

“Nobody will listen to you if your message isn’t clear, no matter how expensive your marketing material may be.” ~ Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand

Steps to Creating an Effective Message:

1. Aligning with Positioning:

The key to effective messaging is ensuring that it aligns seamlessly with your positioning strategy. For messaging to resonate, it must reflect the value you provide. And as identified during the positioning process, that value is found in your prospect’s perception of you, not your own self-description. 

2. Addressing the Pain:

Effective messaging addresses the pain points and challenges faced by your prospects. It shows how your B2B brand or product can solve their issues and alleviate their pain — then creates a sense of urgency by painting a picture of a future without that pain.

3. Building an Emotional Connection:

Great messaging connects with your ideal prospects on an emotional level. It taps into their aspirations, fears, and desires, creating an emotional bond to foster brand loyalty. In B2B, fear is by far the biggest emotional motivator. Fear of getting it wrong, choosing the wrong vendor, or losing their job.

4. Creating Consistency:

An effective messaging strategy maintains consistency across all communication channels, from your website content and social media posts to sales collateral and enablement materials. A cohesive message strengthens and articulates the brand story and reinforces the positioning. 

Mastering the Power Couple

Positioning and messaging are interdependent components of your B2B product and brand marketing. They set the stage and play the sound your prospects will love to hear. While positioning lays the foundation by defining the brand or product’s unique space in the market and in the mind of the prospect, messaging brings that positioning to life through persuasive and targeted communication.

By mastering the power duo of exclusive positioning and effective messaging, complex B2B marketers can elevate brand and product sales to new heights. Keep your positioning and messaging simple and clear and you’ll have fans flocking to your B2B stage in no time.

Fresh Perspectives

A newsletter we send every other Friday to share our ramblings, perspectives, thoughts, and rants on all things B2B branding, messaging and marketing.

"*" indicates required fields