How Vision, Strategy and Positioning are Related. 

April Dunford: Confusing Positioning and Strategy  

April is riled by this. She discussed why she feels it is so bad. 

“I started getting clients come to me, saying, what we want to do is a strategy session and I was like, I don’t do strategy. I do positioning, and they’re like, hey, yeah, it’s the same thing.” April Dunford 

April blames consultants in Silicon Valley for propagating the myth that a story that works for VCs will work in a sales situation and for attracting employees into your company. Everything magically happens. “No! No! It’s not the same thing.” 

How are vision, strategy, and positioning related? 


In a startup there’s a vision of where we think the company is going to be in like 5-10 years. It’s based on where we think the product and market will be at that point. It incorporates stuff we don’t do today – but we will get there. The pitch for a VC is oriented around this vision of a future state. 

Vision and Strategy 

To achieve your vision, you need a strategy to get there. We’ll build these things first to get us to here. Then we’ll build these other things. That’ll get us to here. The strategy articulates a series of steps. 



Positioning is about customers. The vision pitch is a terrible, terrible way to describe to a customer what you do right now, because you don’t do it. It’s a lie. Do any of that stuff yet? Your product doesn’t do that stuff. The customer leans back and says when should I start worrying about that? Or the vision is just scary. That’s not what I want to do right now. 

Each step of the journey requires positioning. Positioning is the story to show why a customer purchase your stuff right now. It describes the value you can deliver today. That changes over time, we don’t just carve that in stone inside of the wall and leave it there forever. It evolves. Our product, competitors and market is changing.  

Positioning has to encompass the vision but not articulate the entire vision. The vision should be way farther out than most people can comprehend.  

To understand how to position, you have to ask the right questions and know how you and your customers can make progress to their current goals. 

Enter Jobs to be Done

Bob Moesta: How does JTBD help you ask the right questions to understand the progress your customers want to make? 

From a product perspective, nine times out of 10, we want to go way farther than the customer does. Our vision is devoid of the context of the future. Good questions come from understanding context – where people are coming from, and where they want to go now.  

Make sure you understand their words and what they mean. A lot of times, people will use words and you think you know what they mean. Pretend you don’t, and it turns out that their meaning to that word is very different to your meaning. 

Positioning is understanding where you are, where they are, where they want to go, and how you fit. Then being able to communicate to people.  

Most people don’t know where they are. They don’t have the words to talk about the struggles they have, or problems they have. Part of positioning has to have that information in it, but then about the next step. What is the outcome that they’re really trying to seek? And it’s those things that create the value for the positioning. 

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