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#46: My Most-Used Positioning Framework

Steal April Dunford's process for obviously awesome product positioning

Can you describe the difference between positioning and messaging?

It’s harder than it sounds.

I’ve heard some say that positioning is internal, while messaging is external. Others say that positioning dictates how your product is perceived, while messaging is the means by which it’s amplified.

Here’s how I break it down:

And the reality is, your positioning fits within a broader ecosystem of connected guideposts (and artifacts). I talk about this in detail in my new course on product launch.

In today’s edition, we’re going to double click on the positioning bucket and dive deep into my most-used positioning framework.

Let’s get into it.


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April Dunford’s Obviously Awesome Framework

April Dunford needs no introduction. She’s not just a fellow Canadian (!), but the maestro who has been helping marketers nail product positioning for years.

I’ve attempted to veer off this framework before, but I find myself returning to it time and time again. It just works.

There are five components to April’s framework (her previous model had six, but she’s condensed it to five with her new book). You’ll need to work through each of them sequentially to get to your final positioning.

Competitive Alternatives

Ever wonder what folks might use if your product didn't exist? Think of it as the "What's Plan B?" game, but focus on the top contenders, not every wild idea out there.

Remember, this might also include non-software solutions. For example, at FreshBooks, our biggest competitive alternative was pen and paper, not Quickbooks.

Unique Attributes

What features or capabilities does your product offer that the competitive alternatives do not? This may even differ depending on buckets of competitors. Be honest about what’s really different, and what’s not.

Differentiated Value

Thinking back on your unique attributes, what differentiated value do they enable for your target customer? April recommends focusing on one to four themes here.

Customers that Care

Once you have clarity on the differentiated value that your unique attributes enable, you need to identify who cares (a lot) about that value. Who is the perfect match for this product? What characteristics do they have in common?

Market you Win

Finally, consider what context makes the value obvious to your target customer. This is the starting point (ie. mental model) for potential customers who are trying to figure out what your product offers.

Here’s how this framework may look like in practice. I’ve applied April’s model above to my private PMM Camp community.

Want to apply April’s framework for yourself? I highly recommend her book on positioning, which I’ll link below in Camper Essentials.

October 30th is the final day to register for Ready For Launch - the PMM's Guide to Product Launches.

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📚 Reading List: Find your product’s secret sauce with April’s positioning book, Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It.

📚 Reading List: Bonus reading material for those who have read April’s first book! April just released a new book that showcases how to leverage your positioning framework to build a sales pitch that wins. It’s a must-read for the sales-led PMMs out there.

- Tamara