The core principle of positioning

Three weeks ago Gianni’s mum asked for his help to create her portfolio website. She’s a photographer, so she just needed a simple website with her photos and a contact button.

Gianni went on Upwork and posted the job. After a few hours, he had 80+ offers. And when he read them, this is all he could see:80 options or 1 option

Who should he pick?

What seemed to be an easy innocuous task, turned out to be a nightmare.

The Paradox of Choice

In 2007 Barry Schwartz delivered a TED talk on how more choices actually make our lives more miserable.

During his talk, he mentioned the number of options you could find in a supermarket:

  • 230 soups
  • 75 iced teas
  • 40 toothpastes
  • 175 salad dressings
  • 285 varieties of cookies

And that was in 2007.

Today you have 24,000+ Android smartphones to choose from. You have 3.7 million new videos being uploaded every day on Youtube. And God knows how many coffee options on Starbucks.Number of Starbucks products

Life is constantly asking us to make decisions. And it gives us a plethora of options to choose from.

That not only create paralysis but also make us feel anxious about decisions.

“Did I make the right decision? What would’ve happened if I picked one of those 154 other options that looked so similar?”

That’s where the core principle of positioning comes in.

“Different is better than better”

If you boil down Positioning to its fundamental truth, you’ll get to “desirable contrast.”

To help you understand this principle, let’s first unpack the last bit:


Do you know when people tweet their list of favourite accounts?

I used to think it was super cool when my name appeared in a category together with other big names.

“Wow. They’ve put me under the “marketing” category together with Katelyn Bourgoin. I’m killing it.”

Then one day I saw a list where one person had his own category. He was there alone. And a realisation struck me:

This dude created enough contrast with the other accounts that he couldn’t be included in the same cluster.Unique positioningThat’s positioning.

Another great example is the tool Canva.

If you take all designing tools and create clusters, you’ll notice one common pattern:

Almost of all them are feature-rich, expensive, and targeted at designers.

Canva creates contrast with these tools by being the only one that’s free and for non-designers.Design software market positioningWhat’s critical to understand here is this:

We don’t possess the ability to judge the value of something in isolation. We determine value by comparing and contrasting one thing to another.

That’s why identifying the existing clusters in your market (categories) is the first step to figuring out how to create contrast.

In the next newsletter, we’ll give you the tools to do that. But now we need to cover the first bit of the core principle:


Creating contrast is not enough.

There needs to be demand for it and people need to perceive the contrast as desirable.

Around 5 years ago, I used to go to a Vegan cafe in my local town (which has a population of 60,000.)

There were between 10-20 coffee shops in the town center. This was the only vegan cafe there. They had clear contrast.

The problem was, there weren’t enough people in the market who wanted to go to a vegan cafe. And it didn’t take long for them to go out of business.

They had contrast, but not enough people found it desirable.

That’s why once you find contrast, it’s important to ask:

“Is there enough desire to justify this position?”

Before investing time and money into it, you want to answer this question.

But don’t worry. After you figure out a potential positioning, we’ll show you also how to validate it in the next article – My business cheat code

In the meantime, we’ll try to make a decision about which freelancer to hire for Gianni’s mum.