Freelancers, Do You Have a Positioning Statement? It Can Change Your Business

 


I recently changed mine and it is already paying off

“I write and copy/edit US-focused marketing content for non-US companies.”

That’s mine and it only took me two years to get it right. I’ve been a copywriter, among other things, for many years and I’ve written many of these things. But for some reason, I never tried to do one for myself. Two years ago I decided employment was no longer for me after years of working as a software marketing executive for several early-stage, post-revenue companies. And I went back to freelancing for probably the fourth or fifth time in my life.

I had acquired niche knowledge of the translation and localization business while working for one of those companies. So I approached a few companies in that space and started to build a client list as a marketing content freelancer. Because the translation is a big deal in Europe (lots of language markets in the EU), I positioned myself as offering the ability to Americanize their content. Given the US is a huge market, this turned out to be a good angle.

But I stayed focused on that niche until I realized there was zero reasons to limit myself to one business sector. What I was really offering was a window into entering American markets for any non-US company. That’s when my current positioning statement became clear to me. It had a value proposition, quickly stated the exact kind of content I specialized without limiting myself too much and defined me as a specialist worth paying more for. Let’s look at those elements.

Value Propositions focus on a distinct benefit to the client

The value prop in my statement is ‘easing entry into the US market’. The secondary benefit is implied. By ‘Americanizing’ marketing content, the foreign company ensures that they do not make cultural mistakes that could hurt their reputation. I have found that my European clients are very aware of these potential localization gaffes like unusual syntax, spelling, awkward sentences, colloquialisms that don’t resonate in another culture, etc.

A specialization focus that is not limiting

This statement defines a pretty specialized kind of content writing: American marketing content for non-US based companies. It’s a niche that positions me as one level above the ‘average’ writer and the local writer who requires translation. It also implies market expertise, which I can back up with my extensive marketing experience in the US. These things mean my prices may be a little higher, but my clients get a bigger package than working with a less experienced writer.

The other side of this niche approach is that I no longer limit my services to only language-related businesses. My services are adaptable to virtually any non-US business that sells into American markets. Because I offer to edit in addition to writing, I can tackle their existing content and give it a polish and upgrade. So far this has proven to be an important part of my service package that, for me, is easy money. And the client gets a one-stop resource.

Building value for yourself in the process

Although I have only been using this particular statement for the past few months, it has already helped bring in two new clients in Europe, companies in very different business sectors. In each case, it was one email to a marketing manager that opened with my line, included a few links to my writing about content marketing and the names of a couple of client companies they may have heard of. I simply inquired if they had a need and defined what I saw as the benefits of using my services.

Creating focus in your messaging is the hidden benefit

An exercise like writing and polishing your positioning statement may sound like marketing hype, but for freelancers to find the business you have to sell yourself. I know from experience that most creatives don’t really like selling and are uncomfortable doing it. One benefit of creating your statement is it clearly defines your message in one sound bite that you can memorize and that really doesn’t require explanation.

Perhaps the greatest benefit you will take away from writing your own statement is the focus required to come up with a description of what you do and why anyone else would care. When we position ourselves, we are forced to define our target market and identify the kind of work we want to do. That exercise gives us a model for pitching to certain types of companies who are more likely to be receptive to your story. It also enables you to reuse your pitch email over and over without having to do too much tailoring of your message each time.