How to make your company Obviously Awesome (and sell more): Book review

Product positioning is about making sure the right people know how awesome you are. In her new book, positioning expert April Dunford shows you how to do that

How can business owners learn more about positioning?

While a useful book to teach how to do product positioning, the book itself is also a lesson for entrepreneurs.

Getting to the point as quick as necessary

Dunford is a talkative writer. As such, the book had many additional thoughts that didn’t seem immediately relevant to “this is how you do product positioning”.

However, there’s a lesson to be learned here: few people truly know what product positioning is, so the book needed some lively “conversation” to keep the reader engaged.

Take that as a lesson for communicating with your prospects. You know far more than prospects about your solution and, in some cases even, their business problems… But find ways to keep the conversation light.

Walk them through the ideas and engage them in the discovery process with stories instead of coming guns blazing about how you will solve the problem. Show, don’t tell.

Be careful of your blind spots

Dunford consults and speaks worldwide on product positioning. She created incredible successes, both as an employee and as a consultant. So it makes sense when she gives the advice to hire an outside facilitator to help with product positioning. After all, that’s what she does.

The problem is that’s the only course of action she offered for facilitating positioning discussions. The reality, though, is that not everyone can afford high-quality outside facilitators. Further, there aren’t that many out there, as Dunford explained thoroughly in the introduction. With that, it seemed a blind spot to recommend hiring an outside facilitator without offering guidelines on what to look for. Or, for that matter, explaining what a great one brings to the table so that companies could do their best to emulate those traits if they can’t afford outside help.

The lesson for business owners, though, is to watch your blind spots when sharing your expertise. We all have them. It’s part of the human condition, and all you can do is your best to have them covered by your team and your own checks.

Get(ting to) Obviously Awesome

Dunford implies a bold statement in her book: that a shift in how you position yourself and your products is the difference between struggles and success. It can be tough to imagine something as simple as saying “CRM for investment bankers” versus “a CRM”, to take an example from the book, will change the future of your business from struggling to billion-dollar-exit.

But in Dunford’s long career, she’s seen and built successes to stand behind her claim. And then she distilled the successes down to a framework; one that she went out, tested, and refined over time. It seems the advice is well-worn and passes the ‘sniff-test’.

The book ends with a call-to-action to engage April as a consultant, workshop host, or keynote speaker; a fair ask since, after all, she’s the expert on the topic. Normally, I don’t appreciate a sales pitch at the end of something I already paid for (though I’ll willingly hear one if you gave me content for free). In this case, I’m realizing there’s an exception: you can market to me all you want if you solve my problems.

Success! You're on the list.