April Dunford: The Smart Way to Position Your Products and Brand for Increased Sales

April Dunford Brand Positioning

“In every crowded market, there’s an underserved segment. And if you can figure out how to be valuable to that segment, then you can make a lot of money.”
– April Dunford

Wondering whether positioning is for your products or brand? Looking forward to positioning your products and brands such that you are subject to an ever-increasing number of sales?

Look no further!

Adam Force, in his latest jam, had a brief discussion with a leading expert in the space – none other than April Dunford.

More About April:

April spent the first 25 years of her career as a startup executive – and used to run marketing, sales, and product teams. She led numerous teams across seven successful and well-recognized B2B technology startups, of which most were acquired by industry giants. And if you dive a bit deeper, you’ll find the total acquisition value to stand at more than $2 billion. Throughout her journey, she has positioned, re-positioned, and launched over 16 successful products.

She currently resides in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada, with her kids and a small and lovely dog. She’s at that stage of her career where she’s trying to give back as much as she can. She acts as a mentor and advisor to dozens of startups and professionals that work in them.

Key Takeaways:

  1. April gives a sneak peek into her background and expertise.
  2. April defines what positioning actually is and clears the misconceptions.
  3. Positioning the company vs. positioning their product(s), especially when you’re selling multiple products.
  4. What does April’s working methodology look like?
  5. For how long has April been going through her process and developing the methodology?
  6. How important positioning is for a company, and how can it actually help a company with its marketing efforts?
  7. How positioning helps align every single person in a company by helping them gain clarity and alignment around the five questions:
    • Who do we compete with?
    • How are we different?
    • What’s the value?
    • Who cares about the value?
    • What’s the market we’re going to be entering?
  8. How storytelling is a big part of positioning?
  9. The importance of identifying the undeserved segment of a market and figuring out how to add value to it.
  10. If your customers are extremely happy with your product, yet your prospects aren’t really able to figure out the value in it, then that’s a positioning problem.
  11. How to identify weak positioning
  12. How does the sales story around positioning tie into the brand story?

Learn more about April Dunford at www.aprildunford.com/


Most people and businesses have got the definition of positioning wrong. At the same time, they don’t realize how important it really is. Only if you do it right you’ll be unburdening your sales and marketing departments.

April shared serious valuable insights throughout this episode. And you should definitely check it out.

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Episode Transcript (unedited, will likely have typos):

Adam G. Force  0:00 

How do social entrepreneurs and small businesses create an authentic brand people love so they can get the edge they need to stand out, create Predictable Revenue and compete against the big guys. That’s what we’re here to discuss. I’m Adam forest, the founder of change creator, and this is the authentic brand mastery podcast.

What’s up everybody. Welcome back to the show. This is your host Adam before us. I’m very excited for today because we have an incredible conversation with somebody I’ve been very eager to talk to. And her name is April Dunford, and she wrote the book, obviously awesome. So her master, you know, skill is not branding, you know, not design, not marketing. It’s dialled into one very specific skill, and that is positioning. She specialises in positioning products and brands in the marketplace. And she goes against the grain of what has historically been taught, and explains why that is, and why it works so much better for today’s you know, way of thinking about business online. Now, we’re gonna dive into that conversation with April. And she works with tonnes of companies and just like teams from, you know, really massive brands, and, you know, she has just dialled in this process. So we’re gonna break it down in this conversation, because if you’re not aware, positioning is something that is the the keys, one of the keys to the kingdom, for selling and converting at high rates. And that’s something that we work with our clients with very, very seriously and diligently. So we’re gonna get into that. All right. Now, if you missed last week’s discussion, was another killer discussion. And it was with one of my mentors, you know, he is a guy that is a Facebook ads expert. His name is Aaron Parkinson, he’s the CEO of seven mile media, they’ve, you know, had over a billion dollars in return from their ads. Just incredible, incredible insights from Aaron. So we got into a lot of the strategic thinking that makes ads work, right. So it really will help you unlock the success with that stuff. So if you missed that one, I would definitely go back and check it out. That was a really fun conversation with just a tonne of good insights. Okay. Don’t forget to leave us a review guys really appreciate it. If you want to show some love and give us support. If you’re liking the show. You know, we’ll get a little bit more momentum with your help. And that always goes a long way. And we appreciate you tuning in. Yeah, last but not least, guys, check us out at change creator.com. If you got an econ business right now, we would love to hear from you. We’re doing amazing work to help you scale those sales and convert more customers. So reach out, let’s have a call. We would love to see where you’re at. And if we can help you out. That’s it guys. We’re gonna dive into this conversation with April. Hey, show me the heat on. Hey, April, welcome to the show today. How you doing?

April Dunford  3:15 

I’m good. How are you?

Adam G. Force  3:17 

I’m doing fantastic. Glad to have you. Yeah, I’m pretty excited. Yeah, I you know, after reading your book, like I just mentioned before we jumped on live. It was really refreshing. So anybody listening her book, obviously awesome. We’re going to talk a little bit about that. But more importantly, the contents of it and why it’s so important to, you know, your more modern business thinking today. April, just before you really get into it all, if you could just give people that introduction in a nutshell about what you got going on today and how you got there.

April Dunford  3:49 

Yeah, well, okay. So I’m April, my background is I spent 25 years as a repeat Vice President of Marketing at a series of startups, I think I did seven, six of those got acquired. But more recently, in the last five, six years, I switch to consulting. And what I focus on is positioning work. I work mainly with tech companies, mainly on the b2b side. And, yeah, my focus, my focus is really just on positioning. I don’t do branding, I don’t do messaging, there’s a very long list of things that I don’t do. And the list of things that I do do contains one thing, and that’s positioning. So that’s my jam.

Adam G. Force  4:26 

Love it special, you’re a specialist. So one thing that comes up a lot, and I’d like to hear your perspective. And I should probably help actually probably define positioning for people real quick. Let’s do that. First. Let’s do that. Before I get to my real questions. Why don’t you just give people the context of positioning? I think a lot of people listening, you know, they skip the strategic planning a lot, or they do the basics that they’ve heard, like, I know who my audience is, and I know you know, the basic stuff, right. So I think they get very deep in these things. Can you define positioning and your terms?

April Dunford  5:04 

Yeah, so so much like you said, like positioning is kind of a misunderstood concept, which is pretty surprising, given it’s not a new concept has been around since the 80s. Like since pre internet, we’ve known about positioning. But it’s pretty misunderstood. So most of the time, when I talk about positioning, I end up having to talk about what positioning is not. So I’ll say, you know, it’s not messaging, it’s not the same thing as messaging. Effective positioning is an input to messaging. People talk a lot about brand positioning. And those two things are connected, obviously. But I do think positioning is an input to branding. And branding is something very separate. So positioning, kind of like you can think of it this way, if everything we do in marketing, and sales is the house positioning is the foundation upon which the house is built. So my definition of it goes like this positioning defines how your product is the best in the world at delivering some value that a well defined set of customers cares a lot about. That’s my definition of it.

Adam G. Force  6:09  

Yeah, and it’s interesting, because I used to go through conversations with clients, and we would really be discussing the full brand strategy. And you could talk about this perfect customer profile, and then you get into positioning in your methodology. Right. And there’s, there’s some overlap there. And I’m starting to go wait a minute, maybe we need to start with the positioning conversation first and edit some of this perfect customer. Because now these two worlds, I mean, those are out when it comes to selling converting sales online, I’m really seeing, you know, these two worlds are the most important to resonate, right, that customer is positioning. And so a question that comes up a lot that I’d like to hear your perspective on is positioning the company versus positioning the product, right. We work with a lot of E commerce brands, and, you know, they have many products. What’s the top seller? Which one’s biggest profit margin? What are we talking about here? My positioning the company? So what are your thoughts on that?

April Dunford  7:09 

Yeah, so that’s a good question. It’s one that I get a lot. So. So sometimes we just have one product. And then we don’t have to worry too much about positioning the product versus positioning the company. It’s just one thing like from slack, right? My slack not anymore. It’s it’s had been acquired. But I’m slacking, I’m slack. There’s no difference between the positioning of the company position of the product and one product company. But then you get situations where you do have multiple products. And then it’s like, well, you know, do I position each product individually? And then what happens with the company? And so typically, the way this works, is there’s kind of a hierarchy to it. So there’s positioning for the company, which answers the question, why do business with us? So you know, and if I’m a big company, like, let’s say, IBM, or Salesforce, I’ve got positioning that covers all the products underneath that, that basically answers the question, why do you want to be in business with IBM? And that’s it. And that’s where IBM at a macro level will say, Well, you know, we have hardware, software and services. And this is why you want to get all three of those things from one company. If I’m Salesforce, I’m going to talk about platform and cloud and all the things I can do across CRM, and sales and marketing and customer success and all that stuff coming together. Underneath that you’ve got individual products, or you know, and usually if you’re really big, you’ve got divisions, and then you’ve got products underneath that. And these things tend to cascade. So what I’ve got so for example, when I worked at IBM, we had IBM positioning, and then we had positioning for Software Group, like, why would you want to buy software from IBM? And then it was like, and then I was in the database division. So then it was like, why would you want to buy a database from IBM? And then you know, I sold the thing that was not a database, but in the database divisions, that information integration tool, why would you want to buy my information integration tool? And so generally, these things cascade, most of the time, what you’ve got is kind of two, maximum three levels of this. So why do you want to do business with us a company and that positioning takes into account the capabilities of the of all the products together? Like why are we a good partner for you, for certain kinds of companies, but then the individual products kind of tuck in underneath that and say, like, this is why we’re a good partner for you overall. But here we are today to talk about this particular thing. And here’s why this particular product is the right product for you right now. So they tend to kind of, you know, hierarchically align with each other.

Adam G. Force  9:38 

Yeah, it’s kind of like parent positioning. And how much time are you spending when you go through this process with clients? You’re still working with clients today, right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, is this like you’re sitting down for two hours and going through positioning and it doesn’t matter how big the company is and how much time is spent here? How many people in the room I’m just curious and some of the variables that come into play for you?

April Dunford  10:06 

Yeah. So you know, when I started doing this, the engagements were longer so and it was mainly because of inexperience in my part. I think like I started out with these very long drawn out engagements. But the one of the things I learned quickly from working with companies is that if we can get the right people together in the room from a company, we can actually move fairly quickly. So typically, what we want in a positioning exercise is we want representation for marketing, sales, product, customer success, and the co founders, whoever on the executive team. The reason we want that is because each group sees customers in a particular part of their purchase and using journey. And they have a different understanding of what customers care about and what they don’t care about. I actually want to get all those people in the room so I can pull that information out of them. Typically the way I work with clients, and again, this is most of my clients are b2b. And even more specifically, a lot of them have salespeople involved in the motion. So if I can get the right people in the room, we can generally work through positioning in a week. So we do that through a series of group sessions, with me facilitating, and we’re working through my methodology, which is kind of a step by step way of getting through the components of positioning.

Adam G. Force  11:32 

Right. Okay. Interesting. And so, I guess, and how long now, have you been going through this process and developing the methodology? Well, the

April Dunford  11:41 

methodology, I started using it for myself when I was a VP marketing. And you know, I think I first cooked this thing out, maybe, Gosh, 15 years ago, maybe. And so I used it myself internally. And I’m probably positioned a dozen or so products using that methodology after I, after I came up with it. And then since I’ve been consulting, I would say, I’ve probably done maybe 200 companies ish in the last five, six years. So I feel like this thing has been pretty proven out at this point,

Adam G. Force  12:16 

I would say so I think he had a lot on things.

April Dunford  12:20 

I don’t know this, for sure. But I feel like maybe I’ve positioned more things than any other person on. I don’t know, for sure. But I suspect maybe

Adam G. Force  12:30 

sounds like it sounds like it. So in your terms, help people understand, you know, why, what role positioning is actually playing? And because I want them to understand its importance and what it actually does for their marketing.

April Dunford  12:50 

Yeah. So here’s one way to think about it. So positioning is a bit like, context setting for products or company if we’re trying to position the company. And what I mean by that is like context is kind of how we figure stuff out, particularly things that we’ve never encountered before. So we encounter encounter some new thing we never encountered before. We look for clues in the context. But what that’s all about, it’s a bit like, it’s a bit like the opening scene of a movie, like you walk into the movie theatre, you sit down, you know a little bit about the movie, because you know, you bought a ticket, you know, maybe you saw the trailer. But when the opening scene comes up, the job of the opening scene is to orient you in the story, right? Like, and you got all these big questions. Where am I? What timeframe is this? Where are these people? You know, why should I care? How should I be feeling right now? Is this funny or sad? Like? And so the opening scene answers that question, if you go to the movies, and you see basically, any American movie starts with a panning shot of the city skyline. And it’s like, where am i What’s going on? Oh, Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, or it’s like, oh, you know, like the, you know, some landmark, oh, I know where I am. And then and then it’ll zoom down in a neighbourhood. And you’ll see cars and clothing. And so I’ll know whether this is present day or the past. And then there’ll be some sad piece with the first character. And you’ll be like, oh, you know, this is funny or sad, or whatever. And now now I’m all oriented. And I can settle in and pay attention attention to the details. So the story positioning is a bit like that. If I show up and I say, Hey, I’m a CRM, that triggers a whole bunch of assumptions in your mind, you’re like, Oh, your CRM, you must compete with Salesforce. And you must have with a set of features like tracking deals through a pipeline, a whole bunch of other things. But if I show up and say, no, no, I’m not a CRM. I’m team collaboration. Oh, that’s different. Now you’re competing with Slack and everything else. So positioning kind of helps customers orient themselves. It’s a bit like you’re taking a customer you’re picking them up, and you’re placing them on a road that leads to your value and more importantly, is not pleasing them on the road that lead eat somewhere else. So if your positioning is bad, what happens is customers show up and they go, Oh, I get what you are. You’re You’re, you’re just like Salesforce, and you go, no, actually, we’re nothing like them, you know? And then and then sales and marketing has to kind of get you. No, no, we’re not that we’re not that we’re over here. So that’s really what we’re trying to do in positioning. If we think about it, we can take positioning, we break it down into component pieces. So positioning kind of the big answers to these questions like so the first one is competitive alternatives. Like if you didn’t exist, what will customers? Do? I got a position against that in order to win a deal. Next thing is, what do you got that they don’t have? This is differentiated capabilities. But more importantly, we can translate those capabilities to value which is like I have these capabilities that my competitors don’t. So what for your business. So meaning, what for the customers are differentiated value, and then it’s like, well, I’m not actually trying to sell to everybody here. I’m trying to sell the people that are really good fit for my value. So who are those good fit customers? And then the last one is market category, which is a little bit like the answer the question like, What are you, you know, are you email or chat or team collaboration? Or what is it? And that’s the context I positioned the product in such that this differentiated value is obvious to these customers I’m trying to sell to.

Adam G. Force  16:21 

Yeah, I mean, I love that. And I think the context example, is really helpful for people. And, you know, when you get into that stuff, and you start finding where you fit in, right, like you mentioned, what makes us different? What’s the value of, well, who cares? Why does that value mean anything? Do you find that when people are getting clarity working with you, and going through that process, this feeds, then a lot of their messaging and other narratives, so now they have an angle around everything that they’re talking about?

April Dunford  16:52 

That’s exactly it. So, in the work that I do with clients, there’s actually two pieces that we work on together. So the first one is, I want to get clarity and alignment across the team on these five component pieces. Most of the mushy positioning you see out there is, it comes from the team not quite being in alignment around who our best fit customer is or what our value is, and you got sales saying one thing, and marketing thinks something else, and CEO thinks something else. And this misalignment results in the stories a little bit changing all the time, and it’s a little bit mushy. So the first thing we’ll do is we’ll all get clarity, alignment around the five things, what do we compete with? What are we got this different? What’s the value? Who cares a lot about that value? What’s the market we’re gonna go in? Well, once we have that, we got to kind of develop a narrative around that to communicate it so that everybody really understands it. So the second piece that we work in, in the workshops that I do with clients is, we’ll work on kind of like, you can think of it as like the story of your point of view on the market. So you know, the reason you built the thing, the way you built it is because you woke up in the morning, and you said, You know what, CRM suck, I’m gonna make a button better CRM, or, you know, email sucks, I’m gonna make a better email, and you built it for a specific set of customers who achieve a specific kind of value. Once we get our arms around that, then we can build this story, which you can think of as almost like a sales narrative, like if I was sitting across from a person that doesn’t know too much about my stuff. How do I tell the story of look, you know, here’s a problem you’re trying to solve, or this is the situation, you have choices in how you go about solving that problem. Here’s the pluses and minuses to other choices. But holy cow, look, there’s a big gap in the market here. And we are built to fill that gap. And if you can fill it, here’s the value to your business. And that’s why you should pick us. So real work this story or this narrative that then gets used, you know, if you have a sales team that gets turned into a sales pitch, if you’re doing this all through marketing, that’s our point of view on the market. And so now we got to figure out how to communicate that point of view across all the marketing stuff that we’re doing out there to communicate, hey, this is us. And this is why you should

Adam G. Force  19:05 

care. Yeah, that’s interesting. And I love the story. I mean, storytelling is such a big part of, you know, great marketing. And I had somebody recently who was one of my advertising mentors, and he did the ads for Ezra Firestone, who’s, you know, created, simplified, and he also made this cream for women. And he’s like, Who the hell wants more cream? We have all the cream in the world. We don’t need any more hands. All right. So how you going to sell this thing? And so as her came up with a story about society’s point of view on women over 50 And he started marketing and positioning against that whole like emotional trigger, and not even selling the product market and market margin positioning positioning, and then when he went to sell the product, they made like 70 million in three months. So when you

April Dunford  19:58 

like you have these markets that aren’t Surface have them look really crowded. And you’ll say, oh my god, like, how can we, you know, we look just like everybody else is is so crowded. But the reality is in every crowded market, there’s an underserved segment. Yeah. And if you can figure out how to be valuable to that underserved segment, like in this case, you know what, you know, the, the over 50, women or whatever, if I can figure out how to be valuable to that segment, then I can make a lot of money. Even if I’m not trying to sell to everybody, I’m just trying to sell this piece of it. And I

Adam G. Force  20:31 

think that’s an interesting mentality, because you don’t have to own 100% of the mark grant, you need to just get your piece and you’re good.

April Dunford  20:39 

If markets, if the markets big you don’t, and even even if even if you start by just serving one segment of market, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to grow in to eventually be in the market leader across the board. Most successful small startups, how they get started is, they’re very successful in a beachhead market, like a small market, underserved by the market leader. That’s what gets them established. And then they start pushing the boundaries of the market where they can win until eventually they become number two, and then you’re going to challenge the market leader.

Adam G. Force  21:13 

Yeah, yeah. So how often are you do companies? Or should if ever, I mean, I look at these types of documents that we use to guide our thinking, right, as living breathing assets? How often do we revisit these things?

April Dunford  21:28 

Yeah, so here’s the thing, like, you know, on the one hand, we don’t want to be changing our positioning every week, because then our messaging needs to change every week. And I’ll just have a note that the customers are just getting used to your positioning, and then you’re flipping it around in the work that I do with companies or even when back when I was a VP marketing, we would get the gang together, we would work on the positioning, and then we would have a standing call. And in my case, it was usually every six months, where we would get the whole team back together again. And we’d run through the exercise and say, okay, competitive alternatives, has anything changed. And we see in different competitors in the market. Now, differentiated capabilities, maybe we had something that was differentiating, but the competitors have caught up to us now. So it’s not differentiate, or maybe we put out a new release, we got something that’s new, that’s contributing all different set of value than we considered the last time. If nothing’s changed, then we don’t change it. Right? If it’s working, we’re not going to fix it. But if something biggest change there, we want to go back through the exercise and see, maybe we need to tune the positioning, or maybe we need to change it outright. The only exception to this, like every six months thing is if something big happens in your market, that is, you know, potentially going to impact your positioning, you want to call the emergency positioning meeting. So this would be something like, you know, big competitor of yours makes an acquisition really changes your positioning, we got to go back and think about that. I worked for a company once where we, we were, we had a strategic partner, and we had positioning that really aligned with this particular strategic partner, but then our strategic partner got acquired. And so we had an emergency meeting, like, Whoa, hang on, how does that change things, and then we had to do our adjustment. And so and then, you know, and then we had this positioning, and it worked really well for another six months. And then the company that acquired our strategic company, they got acquired, and then we had to go back and redo the positioning again, and make a big change there. A lot of companies that I’ve worked with the last two years, they reposition when COVID hit, and then they repositioned again a year later when we started coming out of COVID. Because COVID had such a big impact on their business. So when something big like that happens, you need to go back and check in on the positioning. Otherwise, you really don’t you know, you you should have a standing meeting to check in on it. Regardless, and I used to do this once every six months, I know companies that deal with whoever every quarter, and what you’re looking for is Has anything changed that would require us to do an adjustment in the positioning.

Adam G. Force  24:01 

Okay, so that’s interesting, right? And you don’t want to do it too often. That’ll make sense big market changes. Okay. I would be curious to hear your thoughts on sales because if you are positioning something now you can have your position and you’re just like you’re talking about you have a story on how you’re kind of expressing this position and there may be many angles that you can go with within that positioning right for a sales story. But can a quarter go by six months go by and we’re saying our sales suck like maybe we need to reposition this Yeah, your positioning right I guess it’s coming down to is this this wrench?

April Dunford  24:44 

Like the trick is how do you know the positioning is working or not working is the question and sales I think is the best way to take the temperature of that like when I got hired as a brand new VP marketing people will be like okay, April new VP marketing like your job is to get those leads flowing, chop, chop, get the campaign’s been up. And I’d be like, well, let’s just check in on the positioning first, because what I don’t want to do is spin up a bunch of campaigns on top of this weak positioning. So what I would do is I would go in and sit with sales and listen in on sales calls. And what you hear if the positioning was weak, you’d hear a handful of telltale signs. So one would be customers would come in, I get a sales rep does an excellent pitch, you know what to say? Like, this is what we are, this is what we do whatever. And then, you know, you get about halfway through the pitch and the customers like backup, we pitch it to me again. What it is, like they’ll say, oh, yeah, like it usually takes two or three calls before the light goes on. And then they, and then and this epiphany, oh, this is what you are. The other one you’ll get. People will think you’re a thing that you’re not. So they’ll say, Oh, you’re you know, you’re exactly like HubSpot, you’d be like, Oh my god, we’re nothing like HubSpot. Nothing. Right? It’d be like No, no backup. So that’s another sign. The other sign you’ll get is people will say, Oh, I get it, I get it. I just don’t know why anybody paid for that. Right? So it’s like, I get I get, I think I get what you are, but I don’t get the value at all. Yeah. So you’ll hear this in the sales team. And so if you hear that in a bunch of calls, usually and and at the same time, you’ve got happy customers that if I go talk to them, they’re like, you will pry this thing from my cold dead fingers. I love it so much, then there’s a gap here between what your super happy customers understand about your product, and what’s happening in marketing and sales, for some reason that light is not coming on. And so that’s typically a positioning problem, and you’re trying to close that gap. I need you to understand what these happy customers know. But I need you to understand it before you get to my sales team, ideally, or at least when you get to my sales team, I need to have a pitch that makes that crystal clear. So there it goes. Yeah, yeah, I get it. And when what you hear when the positioning is really good, is the customers come in, and the marketing is so good, and the positioning so good, they don’t even call you unless they’re a good fit. And then they come in and they’re just like, Dude, don’t give me a sales pitch. Just tell me what it costs.

Adam G. Force  27:20 

Add Phone call sale, goodbye. Right? You know, if you have it down, right, and you know, your audience, you shouldn’t be able to do that. I always I always believe in having a short sequence. If you can’t do it in one to three, then the long sequence and going to work either.

April Dunford  27:36 

Well, this is it like you’ll see it we positioning shows up in these long, long sales cycles, where and again, like the most common thing I’ll hear when the positioning weak is weak, is the sales team will be like, Yeah, you know, it takes us two or three calls before they get it. But once they get it, it’s good. It’s like, why is that taking two, three calls? Like why? You know, why is that not even happening before it reaches sales? Like what are we missing? Yeah, marketing, that people don’t get it. And then they get all the way to sales. And then even when they get to sales, the first pitch doesn’t do it. So that’s usually a sign we got some tightening up

Adam G. Force  28:09 

to do that’s a problem. That is definitely interesting. Man, so yeah, it sounds like to me, there’s just some things to take a pulse on. So you know, take notes, you know, anybody listening? These are, I feel like these are so important. And when you get the positioning, right, I mean, you mentioned your book that you should, that if you don’t, if you haven’t had a number of sales, and you don’t know, like the person who actually understood your product very quickly, right, or your company. And they were like the ones that already believe in what you’re doing and see the value. Like, I literally, you know, after I kind of expanded my perspective, reading your book, I wrote down my top five customers, and I just word vomit, everything I knew about them. Oh, yeah, they’re doing wholesale, but they felt this way. And they did that. And I had a whole page of this right. And then I went through the exercise based on those people. And when I made my next ad sets, it was it was, you know, much, much better. So what about the people early on? Yeah, you talk about how there could be, you know, maybe it’s a hypothesis at first, right? So yes, exactly.

April Dunford  29:20 

That’s the best way to describe it. Like at the beginning. Like you’re not making a product out of nothing, right? Like so you’ve gone and done customer interviews or prospect interviews and you’ve done your research and all this stuff. Yeah, well, what you’ve got is a positioning hypothesis. And you’re saying, Here’s my best guess you know, I compete with these folks. Here’s how I different this is the value I can deliver no one else can these are the people that are gonna love it. This is the market I’m gonna win, but it’s just a hypothesis. Yeah. And so then you’re gonna take it into the market and my experience is we’re never 100% right on that hypothesis. Like usually we’re partly right sometimes we’re completely wrong, like completely, I mean a couple of times, but usually what it is is is like some of these Right, and some of it’s not. So my advice, actually to folks, when they’re in that situation is, you can actually keep the positioning a little loose at the beginning, like later on, you want it to be as tight as it possibly can. But when you’re just launching, like, what you want to do is have it kind of loose and feel a little bit where the markets pulling you. So and you don’t want to cut anybody off, that might be a good prospect, but you just don’t really understand it yet. So here’s my bad analogy that I always use. And I’m going to use it because I don’t have a better one. So you it’s like pretend you invented a fishing net. And your hypothesis is there’s a fishing net for tuna is the world’s greatest tuna fishing net. Now, I can launch it into the market and say there’s a tuna fishing net, and I’m only gonna sell the tuna fisherman, maybe it works. Maybe it doesn’t. What if I got it wrong, right? So instead, I think you can launch it and say bissonnet for fish, like all kinds of all kinds of big fish. And then let’s get it out there because you’re gonna have to do some heavy lifting to get the first few customers anyway, let’s get it out there. And let’s see what the fishermen pull up. And you know, what you might find is like, oh, gosh, turns out he’s amazing with grouper. And I wasn’t even thinking about grouper because I didn’t know about grouper. And now I see like everybody’s fishing the heck out of grouper. At this point, I start seeing that pattern, I can tighten it up, and then go be the world’s greatest group of fishing net. And I’ll get the tuna guys later. Yeah, so it makes sense. Kind of like that. So, you know, even though I’m the positioning gal, and I’m on for really tight positioning in the early days of a product, it’s okay for it to be loose, it’s gonna feel bad because the pitch is gonna be loose, and everything’s gonna be loose. And every like, this sounds really mushy, because it is. But I think it’s better to do that and wait till you know where to tighten it up and to artificially tighten it up somewhere, and you’ve actually closed the door that should have stayed open.

Adam G. Force  31:52 

Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. And I, I feel like when you go through it, even in that stage, would you agree that, you know, understanding where you fit in? Like, because if you know who you are, if you have a hypothesis on the customer, and you’re looking at, well, what what makes us different, though, we got to really where do we like fit in to make this really a sellable company? Like why would anyone care about us, you need some way some angle there. So how you’re different and the value, I think those two steps that you have in your listing are like really key no matter where you are in your business, right? Like,

April Dunford  32:28 

totally. And we don’t like technical founders in particular, right? We tend to think about features. And we assume that customers can do the translation between features and value on their own. And often they can’t, like we have to really think about that, like, we’ve got this feature. So what So what, what is this actually enabled for my customers, because that’s really the nut of good marketing and sales is deeply understanding, this is my value that no one else can deliver. No one else can do this for your business. And the twin side of that is who gives a shit like that for that because not everybody cares about that value the same. And so if you can figure that out, I’m really tight on this is the value I can deliver no one else can. And these companies really care a lot about this. Because XYZ, if I can figure out the those two things, then I got a business.

Adam G. Force  33:22 

Yeah, I like that. The one thing I made a note on, I just want to and we’ll wrap up in a second. When we were talking about creating the sales story around the positioning, yeah, I’m curious, how often do you see the brand story tied into that, like, why we exist, kind of like the bigger brand story? Well,

April Dunford  33:43 

like, sometimes it’s super important, and the brand story is actually differentiating. You know, it’s a reason why people buy you in those cases, it’s really important, we bring it in, sometimes less. So to be honest, like, like, sometimes it’s the brand story just isn’t all that important people, it’s a utilitarian product, they just want the thing because it does a thing and it’s awesome. And I don’t need you know, and I you know, in the branding stuff is kind of maybe some icing on the cake or whatever. You know, so it really depends on how valuable that brand story is. Yeah. So, you know, ideally, your brand story is reflective of your value. And it’s all together in one thing. Sometimes people have something with their brand, you know, like there’s a, you know, it’s something that’s deeply important as part of their brand, right? And that’s part of the reason why people pick you, then I think that becomes front and centre, say you know, and that’s that’s key to your value. Sometimes it’s just the thing you’re doing because you’re a good company and you’re good people, but your customers don’t actually care and the real value is something intrinsic to the product, then that’s okay if the you know, you keep doing the good thing. It just doesn’t become the centrepiece of your sales and marketing. Yeah, yeah. Customers just don’t care that much. Right. So it’s really did not care. I don’t care. We’re all glad you’re doing it.

Adam G. Force  35:03 

Well, then you flip flop but you make the brand story. And by the way, did you know this? Oh, even that’s icing on the cake. Right?

April Dunford  35:09 

Icing on the cake. Right? It’s icing on the cake, but it ain’t the cake.

Adam G. Force  35:13 

The cake Exactly, yeah. And I love that. So well, we’ll wrap up there. So April. Appreciate it. Everybody. April is the author of obviously awesome. It’s a great book on positioning if you haven’t read it yet. Super easy read. I actually didn’t read it. I listened to it in the car.

April Dunford  35:29 

I narrated it too. So you get like, you know, four solid hours of my accent.

Adam G. Force  35:35 

Yeah, it was good. It was good. It was fun. So yeah, where can people learn more about you? And I know you got a site for the book and stuff before I throw that out there, please. Yeah, I’m

April Dunford  35:45 

April dunford.com. So you can go there if you’re interested in find out stuff. But the book is called obviously awesome. And that’s on Amazon or anywhere else where you buy books, and I don’t really do social media, except, you know, occasionally Twitter and I’m at April Dunford on Twitter, too. So if you Google April Dunford is pretty hard to miss me.

Adam G. Force  36:01 

Yeah, you’ll come up. You’ll come up. April. Appreciate your time today. Really fun chat.

April Dunford  36:06 

Okay, thanks so much.

Adam G. Force  36:10 

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