Why Positioning and Purpose may come before Strategic Planning.
Purpose and Positioning are the essential stepping-stones before the notable Four P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. These fundamental precedents require new companies and organizations to think clearly about the foundation before hitting the ground running with marketing communication or strategic planning.
Positioning provides an approach to communication, “a powerful tool for creating and maintaining real differentiation in the marketplace” (Ries & Trout x, Positioning). Positioning is the solution to improved communication in a world of skeptical people in media overdrive, as it provides an approach to placing a product in the mind of a key prospect that highlights an organization’s strengths while simultaneously emphasizing the alternative’s (often the competitors’) weaknesses. To ensure that your organization, product, or idea, whatever that may be, infiltrates the collective unconscious of the overcrowded modern marketplace, you need an articulated Positioning. Positioning builds strategy around your organization’s assets, thus successfully branding your product in the mind of its best key prospect. In sum, Positioning provides the insight intersection: truth about your service, your unique role in the marketplace and emotional relevance to your best key prospect.
Purpose distinctly encompasses your organization’s Master Idea, a blueprint for timeless messaging (Reiman, J., The Story of Purpose). The bare bones of what makes your organization distinctive is your Purpose, the addition to your brand that makes people not only buy it (or use it, or give to it) but more importantly buy into it, as it stands for something greater. Seemingly synonymous, Purpose and Positioning actually diverge in regard to timing. Purpose provides the approach for establishing your company’s Master Idea and Positioning allows you to utilize it as the driving force to optimize communication between all facets, from leadership and associates to brand and consumer.
Building a purpose-driven organization positively impacts employees, key prospects and constituencies, and your bottom line by uncovering what makes your organization stand out. Once you have the fundamental force of your organization’s Purpose and the Positioning to back it up, you cannot be imitated.
As a new organization, putting together a very specific and concrete Strategic Plan before a Purpose or Positioning may be premature. Strategic Planning not only requires resources which given the early stages of organizational activity, may not be desirable for investors (or sponsors, underwriters or benefactors). But Strategic Planning also benefits from the foundation laid by an articulate Purpose and Positioning.
It can come later.