Comma, Separated, Positioning Problems

by Kai Davis | Last Updated: September 22, 2020
Comma, Separated, Positioning Problems

When someone new joins this list, they get an email from me asking about their positioning.

Here’s Your Homework

  1. Hit ‘Reply’ to this email
  2. Type in whatever you currently have for your positioning statement (e.g., who you work with, how you help them, the outcome you help them achieve)

Over the 2+ years this has been running, I’ve noted one particular type of positioning statement I’ve gotten back. I call it the ’Comma Separated Problems’ Positioning Statements.

I help Market with Problem, Problem, and Problem

See the comma-separated bit? That’s the issue.

Like in this one:

I help Shopify store owners get more traffic from Google, get better reviews on their products, and increase their email open rate.

It gets squishy, right?

All this comes around to the idea of a Laser-Focused Positioning Statement. That’s something that reads like:


If we’re being laser-focused, that comma-separated-problem bit with problem, problem, and problem doesn’t fly. Why?

  1. It isn’t laser-focused.
  2. It’s a hedge because of a lack of confidence in your positioning.

Tackling those one-by-one:

The what: it isn’t laser-focused.

By definition, an LFPS is narrowly focused on one specific bit of positioning.

If we’re splitting the problem into two, three, or more potential problems, we aren’t laser-focusing on the specific expensive problem our ideal clients are experiencing. It gets squishy and soggy (e.g., I help homeowners with leaky fridges, back yards, termites, and refinancing their mortgage).

That isn’t to say that your LFPS is locked in stone. Regularly readers know that I’m both a fan and evangelist of iterating on your positioning. As you learn more, update your positioning.

BUT. Your LFPS should focus on the most pressing, urgent, essential problems you currently understand to affect your target market.

The Why: It’s a hedge because of a lack of confidence in your positioning.

It’s easy to think about why that might be the case.

You identify/find/discover/validate a specific expensive problem.

But THEN, you come across another might-be-valid expensive problem.

Both might be true.

You’re not sure which is true, expensive, or pressing. And you don’t (yet) go out and validate the urgency by having conversations with people and prospective clients in your target market.

Because of that, another expensive problem gets stapled onto your positioning statement, and the whole mess gets a bit soggier and ill-fitting.

Fixing This

The best way? Have conversations with people in your target market.

Validate that what they’re experiencing is an actual, pressing, urgent pain.

If you can’t have conversations with people in your target market, that’s fine.

For each problem your positioning statement touches on, think about urgency.

If you were a business owner afflicted with this problem, how urgent would you feel the need to get it fixed?

Not sure how urgent a specific problem is for someone in your target market? Then you should absolutely speak to people in your target market.

By the way, on a Marketing Clarity Call we can dive deep into your positioning and expensive problems:

Book your Marketing Clarity Call today and get answers to your indie consultant positioning and marketing questions:



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