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This week’s PPCChat session was addressed by guest host @aprildunford. It was a learning session for all PPC experts. It drew everyone’s attention to the meaning of the term “Positioning” in the PPC space, Use of storytelling as a tool, and much more.

Q1: What (if anything) does the term “positioning” mean to a PPC marketer?

How you message and compare your brand within generic category based queries. @JonKagan

I have read your book, so to me positioning means how you talk about your product/service – what is the story you’re telling potential customers about what it does/solves. @NeptuneMoon

Hello! For me, it’s about placing a brand/product in the customers mind/purchase consideration journey. Also could include your messaging, and where exactly you deliver that too. @AzeemDigital

I’m not super familiar with this term in regards to PPC (maybe my agency just calls it a different thing?) but to me it’s two-pronged: choosing the story and choosing the audience. @DenneyDara

What a great first question! In PPC, I initially think of ad position when I hear the term “positioning,” which is weirdly distinct from my response if I heard it from a non-PPC marketer (where it goes back to USP and what makes our brand/offer unique in the market). @akaEmmaLouise

It’s like this. As a company, I have a product. As a customer, you have a perception of my product. Positioning is the act of carefully chiseling that perception to make it how I want it to be perceived. @yenceesanjeev

For me – I think it’s a tone of voice in your ad copy. How you talk to your client to encourage them to make the desired conversion actions – fun, serious, pushy, always offering a sale.? @mindswanppc

Positioning – where are you in relation to the competitors & how do you differentiate yourself – and not just necessarily in your industry because search queries can trigger ads from all over. It’s a wild west. @amaliaefowler

At its most basic, “positioning” is the “who” that you sell to. This can bleed into what benefits/features of your product you choose to highlight. Positioning fills in these blanks: “i make _____ widgets for _____ ” @ferkungamaboobo

It’s cheesy and overused, but the “blue water” / “red water” dichotomy really helped me understand the value of position. Positioning makes sure you’re in a class of your own. @ferkungamaboobo

I think of “positioning statement” when you say this which to me means that your customers (or potential customers) should be able to identify what you do differently than your competitors and convey your value in a brief 2-3 sentence statement. @RyBen3

Q2: Do you use storytelling as a tool in your work? How? Do you use a structured storytelling approach?

The most successful ad initiatives are selling a story to the potential buyer. What are you showing them and telling them about how your product/service will change their circumstances? This is true for tiny and huge purchases alike! @NeptuneMoon

I’d like to use a more structured approach when it comes to storytelling in PPC. For the most part, I currently use two broad strategies: showing the features of the product and the better life achieved. UGC has been huge for this. Almost like an oral bio of the product. @DenneyDara

In paid media space, many of us are used to going in with hard sell rather than storytelling. ie- buy this thing / fill in this form. Testing a story landing page as a first interaction can be eye-opening. We discovered last year leading with story in Q1-Q3 can work. @beyondcontent

Second answer – with storytelling, its dependent on the client for me. Sometimes we don’t have access to enough of the bigger picture to really play a role. When I have brand / voice assets or stories, or I get to help with them, that’s where the gold is. @amaliaefowler

Con’td – because clicks cost money, sometimes I actually try to filter out clicks via the ad copy itself, especially if its niche. And then introduce the story on the LP. @amaliaefowler

I think storytelling applies in (at least) two ways in marketing/PPC: first, the storytelling we use when communicating with prospects and customers, and second, the storytelling we use internally in making sense of and decisions based on data. @akaEmmaLouise

Product page as first time landing page = cold audience hard sell. If the page is your typical thin catalogue ecom thing, it doesn’t sell the benefits or the brand story. Custom story-driven landing pages for first time visitors, can *massively* increase returning CVR. @beyondcontent

At least depending on the product and time of year. When we tested in Q4, it didn’t work. Shoppers are too busy to explore stories and more just want the thing they’re after. So it’s a Q1-3 play for us. @beyondcontent

Yes! And, storytelling IS a tool (than a skill). With a few right steps, what you want to say can become a story Here’s how I work a story, super-simplified 1) Identify a core thread 2) Start – Sell a problem 3) Mid – Sell a solution 4) End – Evoke an emotion 5) CTA @yenceesanjeev

On the contrary, Twitter forced me to become a better storyteller. 240 characters were the constraint I didn’t know I needed. Twitter threads are a great way to tell a story with each tweet containing one key point and all of it coming together as a story. @yenceesanjeev

Curious about telling the right story in PPC actually. I feel like quality score and storytelling are almost diametrically opposed. (on Google) @CJSlattery

When I was a sales engineer, I used storytelling while giving demos to prospects. And now, as a PMM, I’ve started to write stories on why we’re building a feature to help people in the company understand the problem statement better. @akkshaya_

It’s under-used in B2B. Customer stories where prospects can identify with a peer and their issue and learn how their chosen approach worked, and why, are gold. Ideally told in the customer’s own language. @andymturner

I believe in storytelling, and more than a tool, I see it as a way to be conversational and candid. While you can be windy or write in fancy languages, nothing beats an emotive sharing of your thoughts—works even when you’re apologizing say for a delay in webinar. @aishashok14

How can the wrong positioning impact marketing and ultimately sales? I know we all probably have our own examples we have seen! @NeptuneMoon

Bad positioning sets expectations your product can’t meet. ie – email and chat have overlapping features, but we expect email to do calendar, spam, etc. We expect Chat to do receipts, real time, etc. A product can be great chat or crappy email AND be the same product. @aprildunford

Q3: In my work as a consultant, I am often working with teams to help them think about their product in new ways. Do you find yourself doing this? How do you help teams understand that a new perspective might be needed? Is this relevant in PPC?

If I’m ever working with a new landing page, or product, or ad etc.. I show the copy for it to someone who hasn’t yet been exposed to it. If they can’t tell me what it’s about within a short time frame – then it goes back into review immediately. @AzeemDigital

This is much harder to when you’re inside the company. The closer you are to the product, the harder it gets Because your mind is anchored in what you initially set out to solve. I feel new perspectives can only come from outside, if internal stakeholders aren’t budging. @yenceesanjeev

I think that we often end up helping clients through a process that might end up shifting the positioning. We get data back that shows pretty clearly what is resonating, so we can test and move in the direction customers tell us to. (continued) @NeptuneMoon

OR shift if we are finding that the positioning and messaging we are using is not attracting a good customer. You might be selling to millennials w/ your offers now, but if they only buy on sale and Gen X buys full price – who would you want to market to more? @NeptuneMoon

I try and get them to understand it isn’t the funnel, search is the end of the funnel that is being supported by other media channels. @JonKagan

I feel the majority of engagements point to this, but ultimately, it’s a lot bigger project to reposition a product than can be done in the hours allotted in the contract. To me, positioning comes before marketing because it’s got to be baked into the product. @ferkungamaboobo

I think this is relevant and I think it comes down to two things: 1. Your product solves an actual concern 2. You answer that pain point in your copy I think we start there. Think about companies like Dollar Shave Club when they got started. They weren’t trying to upsell. @RyBen3

On day one, they were trying to help people see how Gillette and other razor brands were a) overpricing their product b) were a huge inconvenience c) weren’t ‘hip’ and thriving coming out with a Mach (insert #) every year but all they were doing was adding a blade. @RyBen3

I think brands fail to position themselves bc they don’t solve the customer’s pain points. They want to jump into why the technology is so much greater than the competition when the customer can’t interpret how that helps them or improves their life vs competition. @RyBen3

I think a new perspective is essential. But it’s tricky, especially when you’re wired to think of your product a certain way. As you’ve mentioned in your book, I agree that positioning should involve the product, marketing, sales, and CS teams. It’s an iterative process. @akkshaya_

I think a lot of teams suffer because some folks are carrying “positioning baggage.” This is particularly true where the product/market has shifted from where the company started. Sometimes we have to try to set aside the old thinking to make space for new thinking. @aprildunford

I feel the majority of engagements point to this, but ultimately, it’s a lot bigger project to reposition a product than can be done in the hours allotted in the contract. To me, positioning comes before marketing because it’s got to be baked into the product. @ferkungamaboobo

Like, we often sit there and say “this aint gonna work” and see it not work and point to positioning — but then we only have X hours a month to work with 85% taken up by making the ad network “go.” So it’s something that gets referenced as a problem but not solved? @ferkungamaboobo

This is a really good point. When I was a new VP Marketing I would always start with fixing the positioning because it was an input to everything else I was doing in marketing. If I didn’t fix that first, I’d be left with “Garbage in, Garbage out” as the coders say. @aprildunford

Can you talk a little about how to do this? What kinds of questions to ask? Sometimes, we can be too reliant on just data we have access to or things like heatmaps and not seek more human input. @NeptuneMoon

My favorite way to interview customers is with the “Jobs to Be Done” framework. I learned this one from one of @lovevalgeisler‘s webinars. @DenneyDara

I started by just reaching out to friends/neighbors/acquaintances who fit our “target” and asking what they are looking for in X product, where they look for or get information, what influences their decision, etc. Trying to remove all my own assumptions/biases up front. @akaEmmaLouise

I like these questions – Describe what you used to do before you used our product? What made you decide to try something else? Once you did, what other potential solutions did you look at? This helps me understand what my real competitors are – including status quo @aprildunford

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