Obviously Awesome
Obviously Awesome
My notes on "Obviously Awesome" by April Dunford


  1. In order to do better marketing, understand your value and differentiators better
  2. Understand what makes a best-fit customer
  3. Positioning is a fundamental input to every business tactic you use
  4. If you fail at positioning, you fail at marketing and sales
  5. Positioning is "conext setting" for products
  6. Customers need to be able to easily understand
    1. What your product does
    2. Why it is special
    3. Why it matters to them
  7. If your prospects can't figure out what your product does quickly, they will invent a position for you. It might hide your key strengths or misunderstand your value.
  8. Find people to demo your product to, then ask them to describe it back to you. Do the same with existing customers. If they're not saying the same thing then you have a positioning problem.
  9. Products with strong positioning:
    1. Find the best kind of customer
    2. Make the value obvious
    3. Sell quickly

Part 1

Positioning as context

  1. Without positioning to guide us, we don't know how to understnad a product
  2. Positioning lets us make assumptions about
    1. who a product is for
    2. what its main features are
    3. how much it costs
  3. Without it we would be paralyzed by choice, and we wouldnt be able to make sense of all the products around us.
  4. The context and purpose of a product from the founders/engineers perspective are often different to those of the prospect
  5. Products can be positioned in multiple ways, and often the best positioning is not the default positioning
  6. Bad positioning makes it harder for prospects to figure out if your product is worth thinking about.
  7. Positioning requires considering:
    1. Customers point of view - what problem/pain does it solve
    2. The ways your product is uniquely different
    3. The characteristics of a potential customer
    4. The best market context to make your value uniquely obvious

Five (plus one) components of effective positioning

  1. Competitive Alternatives - if you didn't exist, what would your customers use instead?
    1. Its what your prospects would use to do the task if your product didn't exist. It could be excel, or pen and paper. It could be nothing, (in which case maybe you product doesn't solve a real pain point.)
    2. You probably know a lot more about your market, and problem, and alternative solutions, than your prospects do. ("Doing nothing" could be an opportunity, not a red flag.)
    3. Its important to understand what customers will compare your product with, because this is how they will define "better". Is it "easier" than a pen and paper?
    4. Customers might never have purchased a solution like yours before.
  2. Unique Attributes - What do you have that alternative do not?
    1. Could be:
      1. Delivery Model (online vs offline, installed on-site vs not)
      2. Business model (rental vs purchase)
      3. Specific expertise (data scientist with financial and back-end web dev expertise)
  3. Value (and quantifiable objective proof) - What value do the attributes enable for customers?
    1. If unique attributes are your secret sauce, the value is why someone might care about your secret sauce
    2. Fact based, provable, demonstrable, quantifiable, objective. Third party opinions are relevant.
  4. Target market characteristics - Who cares a lot about that value?
    1. Focus on customers who are most likely to purchase quickly, wont ask for discounts, will tell their friends about you.
    2. You should clearly identify who these are and
    3. Identity what sets them apart from other groups of customers. Why are they uniquely likely to buy from you when others wouldnt or would take longer to consider and make a purchase
  5. Market Category - What context makes your value obvious to the ideal customer?
    1. Declaring that your product exists in a certain market triggers a powerful set of assumptions
    2. make these assumptions help you, not hinder you.
    3. When presented with your product, customers will try to use what they already know to figure out what your product is all about and why its special. You want them to be able to do this really quickly and easily.
    4. Make these assumptions work for you, not against you. You won't have to list every feature, because most of them will be assumed by the context of the market category.
    5. Get it right, and sales efforts (copy) wont be wasted battling those assumptions, but can instead build off of them to show secret sauce and value more obviously.
  6. (Bonus) Relevant Trends - what trends make your product relevant right now?
    1. Used carefully, trends can show prospoects why they should pay attention to your product right now. Increases urgency.
    2. It can increase urgency, excitement, coolness, credibility
    3. but the trend must be directly relevant, practically and objectively applicable.
    4. Blockchains, AI, ML are trends - they are relevant to multiple markets.

Each of these components is relevant to the others