MaRS Library Product positioning and positioning your startup: Customer creation stage
Product positioning and the way you are positioning your startup have a critical influence on a customer’s buying decision. Positioning creates an image in the mind of your target customer about your startup and your product in relation to the available alternatives. It has to let the customer know what you do, and what your product does for them.
Product positioning and positioning your startup: Build on what you started in the customer validation stage
For startups following Steve Blank’s Customer Development Model, your first steps to develop your company and product positioning would have begun during the customer validation stage.
Now that you have reached the customer creation stage, it is time to refine how you are positioning your startup, as well as your product positioning. Make sure you keep the positioning consistent as you scale.
In the customer creation stage, it can be helpful to engage the expertise of a public relations (PR) firm.
Work first on positioning your startup
In contrast to the order you followed in the customer validation stage, now that you are in the customer creation stage you need to work on positioning your startup before you refine your product positioning.
Conduct interviews with internal stakeholders as well as key external industry players to find out what perceptions currently exist about your company and product. Once these opinions are known, you can go about shaping them.
Finding a public relations firm
At the customer creation stage, many startups hire a PR firm to assist with specialized messaging. Find one that is familiar with your market or adjacent ones. Ensure it has experience and expertise with strategic positioning and communications—good PR firms will have skills that include positioning, articulating your message, refining your audience and spurring industry thought leaders to communicate your message.
Match your market type when positioning your startup and when setting your product positioning
Positioning your startup and your product to match your market type is essential:
- Existing market: Your company positioning needs to focus on your startup’s differentiation and credibility. Your product differentiation should highlight your superior product features
- New market: Your company positioning needs to focus on your vision and innovative approach. Your product positioning should define the new market and the customer problem your product solves
- Resegmented (low-end or niche) market: Your company positioning needs to focus on segmentation and innovation. Your product positioning should redefine the market with its new segment and highlight your product differentiation
Product positioning and positioning your startup: Further resources
- Positioning: Creating an image of your product in your target customer’s mind
- Four types of market (market maturity): Where does your startup’s product belong?
- A strategy canvas: A tool for developing a differentiation strategy for technology products
- Defining your competitive edge: Product positioning in your target market
- Strategic planning: How product differentiation strategy depends on market type
- Product positioning and positioning your startup: Customer validation stage
- Crafting your value proposition (workbook)
Stages of venture development
The Startup Genome model defines five stages of venture development:
This article relates to those startups in the efficiency stage.
Blank, S.G. (2005). The Four Steps to the Epiphany. Self-published: Cafepress.com.
Moore, G. (1999). Crossing the Chasm. (Revised ed.). New York: Harper Business.
Wiefels, P. (2002). The Chasm Companion. New York: Harper Business.
- Value proposition: A reflection of the relationship between your customer and brand.
- Startups and intellectual property (IP): What tech investors look for.
- Implementation and control: Kotler on marketing.
- Following up a B2B technology sales call.
- Customer onboarding: Preparing customers to use your product.