Positioning for Products, Services, Programs, and Concepts

What is positioning? Positioning is how you place your product, service, or image in peoples’ minds.

If you are selling a product or service, that usually means sales. If you are selling a program, it means signups or subscriptions or attendance – still a sale, in a way. If you are selling a concept, or a vision, things get nebulous. Regardless, there are few things that can be "sold" without words to complete the picture, and it takes a command of language to complete the story credibly, even if you are selling adventure vacations or saving the Earth.

Some things are fairly simple: t-shirts, fast food, and five-dollar phone apps.
You tell 'em what you're selling, and if the price is right, they buy. If they like it, they might buy more. If they don't, they won't. Either way, the deal is done, and repeat sales depend on the product.

Big ticket items like cars are more complicated because people do some math before buying. So you pitch benefits to those who don’t understand the product, and features to those who do, and you pile on those benefits or features until they’re convinced.

Services get more complicated yet, because selling them needs trust.
It might not take a lot of trust, but it takes some, and customers cannot look up your plumbing service in Consumer Reports – they have to go by word of mouth, or perhaps Yelp!, which is simply word of mouth from strangers. Or one well-written Amazon “Verified Purchase” product review might convince them, when the machine-generated description does not.

Managing your image or advancing concepts and visions are the hardest of all – especially if you are asking for belief or faith – and is best served by strong writing, these being some well-known examples:

“… We the people …” The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson

“… of the people, by the people, for the people …” The Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln

… blood, sweat, and tears … Winston Churchill during the Battle of Britain

All of these have been appropriated – it certainly worked for Lincoln, who is thought to have skimmed that phrase from previous writing by others.

It also can work for you. While I’m happy to write an original great sentence, I don’t mind appropriating from the old masters, like this:

The Archimedes Project was begun in 1992 to develop ways for people with disabilities to access computers. In the course of ten years the Project has pioneered working prototypes of affordable eye tracking systems, head tracking, and haptic mice, building on low-cost components such as embedded chips and off-the shelf mice or web cameras. From the beginning we considered personal computers too complicated, and $20,000 eye trackers utterly beyond the reach of the average computer user.

In 2002 the Project made a major change in course, for two reasons. First, we found that computer access for the disabled is a hard sell. Saddening, but true. While a never-ending series of grants might allow Archimedes Project to perfect these devices ad infinitum, we have learned that current market economics will not put them in the possession of the people who need them.

[most of body deleted]

This marketing strategy is somewhat like walking around the outside of the house to get to the front door, yet the marketplace – where the people voice their opinion – has spoken to us, and we have listened. A philosopher once observed that "Many are stubborn in the path they follow, few in pursuit of the goal." In altering our path, we have every expectation of achieving a goal broader, more profound, and more enduring than we initially conceived.

The last paragraph borrows thinking from Lincoln and a quote from Nietzsche. Maybe I could have written it without their help, but a syndicated reporter was waiting for a written description with a 5 o’clock deadline, and this worked; the reporter ran with it, the Archimedes Project received national news coverage the next day – and the project moved to the University of Hawaii with blue sky ahead and trumpets sounding, courtesy of mainstream media.

Please contact me by:

1. Phone: 415–810–1966 Pacific Time

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No charge for a phone call. I can’t reposition you completely in two hours, but I can usually tell you whether I can be of help with some brief online research and a bit of thinking. If your situation is complicated, it may take a couple of days. Regardless, I tell you as quickly as possible what can be accomplished.

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