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updated 9/13/2012 10:18:54 AM ET 2012-09-13T14:18:54

image credit: Brittney Owens

In my work as a marketing consultant, clients in creative fields often say to me: "Before I do any marketing, I have to figure out my positioning."

What exactly is positioning?

It might sound like marketing jargon to you, but it's an important concept for any entrepreneur to understand.

I think people confuse it with the " elevator pitch,'" or 15-word blurb that you say when people ask what you do. But it's not that at all.

A positioning statement is how you define your services to yourself, for yourself. It's what you stand for and what makes you stand out. And it's for internal usage only.

Related: How to Tell Your Business Story in 60 Seconds or Less

It helps you focus by answering these 3 simple questions:

  • What exactly do you do?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • How are you different?

Here's a good example I helped a client develop recently:

We partner with clients to create strategic design solutions for indulgence brands -- brands that offer an elevated experience to consumers seeking the good life. We work closely with clients to understand the brand's promise and relevance to consumers, and then translate that into emotionally compelling branding, packaging and marketing materials. Our work grabs the eye and captures the heart. Our specialties are wine, spirits, beer, specialty food and beverage.

Once your positioning statement is done, you will certainly use bits and pieces of it here and there -- in your elevator pitch, on LinkedIn, on your homepage, etc.

But the purpose of the positioning statement is to help you focus. Once you do, you will know which marketing tools to use, which events to attend, which people to reach out to and what to say. That I can promise.

Without a clear positioning, you'll be all over the place -- as perhaps you are.

Related: 5 Worst Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Pitching Angel Investors

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