How you position your startup in the market is crucial to early startup success. I’ve usually used a canvas–like structure to capture positioning that looks something like this:
What is it?
The shortest possible statement that describes what you are. The key here is to keep it really short and use plain English words.
The specific target market you are targeting in the short term. The trick here is to focus on who you will sell to over the next 6 months (not the ultimate market which is typically much broader).
The market that you compete in. It’s important because often startups have a choice of multiple categories that they could compete in but the one you choose will define what the real competitive alternatives will be.
If your customers don’t use you, what do they use? This should take the customer’s perspective and can include things that aren’t necessarily products such as “hire an intern” or “do nothing”.
The one thing that sets you apart the most from the competitive alternatives.
The biggest benefit that your target market derives from your offering. This is the one thing you would talk to customers about if you could only talk about a single benefit.
(1) April uses this template as a tool for marketing. But marketing flows from strategy, so it’s an excellent tool for clarifying strategy as well.
(2) Cf. Is your company truly disruptive? Try this simple litmus test.
(3) Thanks to David Cummings for the link.