How to ApPEAL to Prospects with Cowbell Positioning

“I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell.”

Gene plays cowbell. Cowbell is the only cure for producer "The" Bruce Dickinson. 

Gene’s got it made in the shade with that airtight positioning.

Gene's owning his niche and singing it, or rather ringing it, loud and proud. And his target audience can’t get enough.

If that’s airtight positioning, what does leaky positioning look like?

Consider the slogan, “We build a world around your brand."

Sounds catchy. But does anyone know what this means? Does anyone actually need a world built around their brand? And do customers need that “brand world,” once it’s built?

Full confession: This is what the 16 Hoops website used to say. It’s what one of our consultants, Jonathan Stark, calls “soggy positioning”. You’ve probably guessed it already“soggy" ain’t a compliment.

Jonathan told us that out of the hundreds of professional Facebook friends he has, there wasn’t one person he could think of off the top of his head who needed “a brand with a world built around it".

Positioning yourself means that you know the questions your target customer is asking, and your brand is publicly declaring the answers.

How can you recognize leaky positioning?

For starters, it’s...

  • Undifferentiated: It does nothing to set your brand apart
  • Interchangeable: It could apply to any of your competitor
  • Aimless: It could potentially create a long, difficult road for your business

Here’s another example of leaky positioning: “Natural light photographer” as a description of your photography business.

I can think of no one in particular who needs a natural light photographer. Yet everyone wants a natural light photographer. 

You would think that because no one AND everyone needs this type of photography, that the positioning is OK. Maybe even good. Right?  

But instead of getting you more business, this type of positioning will just end up lumping you into the massive pile of other businesses that use this same position.

And that, my naturally well-lit friend, means disaster.

Now customers will consider you a commodity. They’ll be searching not for you or your brand, but for the lowest-priced “natural light photographer”.

So what’s the cure for leaky positioning and all its ills? More cowbell. AND airtight positioning.

Airtight positioning is the promised land that will transform your business.

You’ll know you’ve positioned yourself with no leaks if, after you tell someone what you do for a living, they immediately think of 3-20 people who could use your services.

Let’s go back to our "natural light photographer" example. Does anyone in particular pop into mind? Nah.

Now, instead, if you really want to explore a space with great positioning…you might say, “I do high-end portraits of families with their yachts on the coast of Florida.”


How? Why?

Because the person to whom you just said this immediately thought of 3-20 people. Maybe they’re thinking of their Florida relatives, or that guy they met in the airport bar. Maybe they’re thinking of their old orthopedist.

And if you’ve done your homework and you live the right place, they are probably asking for your card (or several cards). I live in a coastal town in Maine, and I can think of at least 12 legit potential customers for this awesome new service.

People might not have even been thinking that "portraits of people on their yachts" was a thing. Now, not only do they know about it, but they suddenly want it, too.

Just like when Bruce Dickinson heard that cowbell. He suddenly wanted more. He didn’t even know cowbell could do that.

What comes after cowbell

What if you went one giant leap further into the promised land and followed up your positioning with spot-on branding, messaging, and marketing?

You’d have clients banging down your door to work with you. You’d need an extra few hands to grab all the money they were throwing.

But first things first.

Put your pants on like Bruce Dickinsonone leg at a time-and make some money with great, airtight positioning.