How a subtle positioning shift can unlock new opportunities

How a subtle positioning shift can unlock new opportunities

It’s possible that your company or organization doesn’t do what you think it does

Over the years, I’ve learned that the way a company or organization positions what they do can be unmatched with opportunities in the market or what their target audiences actually value. Positioning refers to how a brand, company, product, or service is presented in relation to other options.

Often through the Essential Story Process (ESP), my clients learn that their core business or focus is not what they thought it was. Here are examples from a variety of sectors:

A client that thought they were a construction company discovered they are a project management firm.

This shift in positioning allowed the company to go after a greater variety of work. The ESP uncovered that they were best at solving a problem that was highly transferable across many opportunities – yet they had been treating many of their projects as “accidental” or as “sidelines”. The shift in positioning freed the firm from an unnecessarily narrow focus and kick-started major national growth.

Take-away: Understanding the problem you really solve enables substantial growth.


A client who thought its purpose was to deliver events discovered its true raison d’être is to support members.

The organization’s leaders weren’t thinking of their work as member-driven, yet it was a member-based organization. This misalignment had become culturally ingrained and was the invisible source of many challenges and complaints. The ESP process unearthed this disconnect and even identified a new, underserved type of member that is central to the organization’s growth and long-term sustainability.

Take-away: Aligning positioning with the audiences you serve opens you to new opportunities.


A client who thought they were a software development outsourcing firm discovered they were a software development partner.

This firm wanted to undertake a big campaign to battle a certain type of competitor. The ESP revealed that the “competitor” they planned to spend all their resources to fight was not a competitor at all. Instead, we homed in on this client’s true differentiation and they came to dominate a particular niche in which they were highly valued. That positioned them well for an eventual lucrative exit.

Take-away: The right shift in perspective can transform a business, organization, or brand.


Some of these shifts in positioning may seem subtle, but sometimes that’s all it takes to kick-start positive change. The ESP provides the clarity, confidence, and alignment required to move forward and really get unstuck.

How the Essential Story Process clarifies positioning

Effective positioning requires several elements. First, it should be intentional. Second, it should be contextualized within the market space or operating environment. Third, it should be considered from the target audience(s)’ perspective.

Phrase Strategy’s Essential Story Process (ESP) covers those bases by aligning:

  • Intention: The leadership team’s goals.
  • Context: The landscape the subject exists in.
  • Perspective: How the target audience understands and consumes the subject.

Analyzing where each of my clients fits in their landscape, gathering insight into what their target audiences experience, and sussing out the client’s own intention uncovers the right path forward. It reveals where to focus efforts and resources to close gaps, mend misalignments, and move forward on goals. It also becomes the basis for perfectly articulating the Vision and Mission necessary to communicate effectively and ensure long-term success.

Curious? Contact me for a consultation.