Positioning Book: "The Art of High-Tech Positioning"

The CEO’s Essential Guide to Strategic Market Placement for B2B tech and Software Products

Post updated on
March 6, 2024


This article delves into the essence of positioning, particularly in technology-based markets, drawing insights from my positioning book: "The Art of High-Tech Positioning" and comparing it with Al Ries' classic, "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind."

  • "The Art of High-Tech Positioning" is a book that explores effective positioning strategies in high-tech markets.
  • It emphasizes the importance of understanding market perceptions and leveraging intangible attributes.
  • The book highlights the role of market segmentation and differentiation in creating a unique position in the customer's mind.
  • It compares and contrasts its approach with Al Ries' book on positioning.
  • The book provides practical insights and strategies for CEOs and founders in the high-tech industry.

What can you learn in The Art of High-Tech Positioning Book?

The Nuances of Positioning

Positioning is not just about how you describe your product; it's about carving a distinct space in the customer's mind.

The challenge is even more pronounced in high-tech markets where innovation and rapid changes are the norms. Whether you're a startup or an established player in the tech arena, how your product is perceived in the market can make all the difference. Understanding this, I'll explore how my approach aligns with or diverges from Ries' foundational concepts.  

Understanding Positioning in High-Tech Markets

The art of positioning in high-tech markets revolves around creating a unique space for a product or company in the customer's mind.

I emphasize in the boob that Positioning is not merely a marketing statement but a strategic approach that influences customer perception and buying decisions. These are the key principles for successful high-tech positioning I outline.

Fundamental Principles of High-Tech Positioning

  1. Position as a Perceived Status: I stress that a position is a noun, not a verb. It represents the perceived status of a product or company within a market segment relative to competitors. This perception exists in the minds of the customers, not just in the marketing collateral.
  2. Influence on Buying Decisions: The most significant impact of positioning is on the customer's decision-making process. It's a system customers use to organize and evaluate competitive alternatives, making it crucial for companies to align with these perceptions.
  3. Market Perception Over Words: A position exists in people's minds, not just in the words used by a company. If a product or solution does not resonate with the market's beliefs, it will struggle for acceptance. This principle highlights the need for market education and product adaptation to form new perceptions or mental spaces when creating a new market.
  4. Leveraging Market Beliefs: The market positions products and brands based on existing perceptions and trends. For sustainable growth and past product/market fit, companies must focus on intangible positioning factors beyond just technological features like customer service, support, or market leadership.
  5. Segmentation and Differentiation: I advocate focusing on specific market segments to differentiate the product from competitors and appeal to the pragmatist buyers that form the early majority. This is crucial in crowded markets where being everything to everyone is rarely a successful strategy.
  6. Ongoing Experimentation and Adjustment: Especially with new technology products, positioning must be flexible and adaptive. The Diffusion of Innovations and its update by my colleague Schirtzinger in 1989 revealed that there are 5 psychographic profiles (or types of buyers), and all want different things. Thus, a company must continually seek market feedback to test and refine positioning messages to appeal to buyer profiles as the market evolves.

These principles lay the foundation for building a solid positioning strategy in high-tech markets by following the behavioral science of the innovation adoption lifecycle.

In the book, I stress the importance of understanding and influencing market perceptions, intangible attributes rather than core product features, and continually adapting to the changes of the different types and behaviors of buyer types.

The Role of Market Segmentation and Differentiation

Segmentation: The Key to Targeting the Right Audience

In high-tech markets, segmentation is more than just a marketing tactic; it's a strategic imperative. I highlight the importance of segmentation by defining it as identifying sets of prospective customers with similar needs, motivations, and buying behaviors.

This approach moves beyond mere demographics to focus on why customers buy, the jobs they need to get done (jobs-to-be-done), the outcomes they seek and their risk aversion.

The Importance of Understanding Customer Needs

Empathizing with target customers is the first critical step in segmentation. Companies must think deeply about the problems they are solving and for whom. This involves engaging potential buyers to understand their use cases, pain points, and motivations.

By doing so, businesses can design customer profiles or opportunity scenarios that resonate deeply with their target segments.

Evaluating and Prioritizing Market Opportunities

In the positioning book, I challenge the conventional wisdom that market size is the primary factor in assessing opportunities. Instead, I propose a multi-dimensional approach considering ease of buying, selling, and organizational effectiveness factors for successful opportunity assessment.

This method allows businesses, founders, and innovators to evaluate opportunities more holistically and prioritize them based on a combination of market needs, behavioral science, and internal capabilities.

Differentiation: Standing Out in the Market

Differentiation in technology markets depends greatly on the market's maturity. In early markets, technology and product-based differentiation are paramount.

As the market matures, the focus shifts to segment focus and company messages. Understanding where a product stands in the technology or innovation adoption lifecycle is crucial for choosing the right base for differentiation.

Steps for Effective Positioning Strategy

  1. Value Profile Creation: This involves comparing the attributes the target market segment values the most, both tangible and intangible.
  2. Competitor Assessment: Evaluate how competitors serve these attributes and identify potential whitespace — areas underserved by competitors.
  3. Finding the Whitespaces: The goal is to differentiate around these whitespace areas, ensuring that the market cares about these attributes and that they align with your company's credibility.

Companies can establish a strong, unique position in the high-tech landscape by effectively segmenting the market and differentiating their offerings.

Comparison with "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind"

A Tale of Two Positioning Philosophies

Positioning, as explored in "The Art of High-Tech Positioning" and Al Ries in "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind," share a common foundation but diverge in application, particularly in high-tech markets.

My High-Tech Focus vs. Ries' Universal Approach

My positioning book offers a deep dive into positioning specifically tailored for high-tech markets, highlighting the importance of existing market perceptions, segmentation, differentiation, and positioning alignment with the market's lifecycle (the innovation adoption curve or technology adoption lifecycle).

My approach is heavily based on understanding and leveraging the unique dynamics of the behavioral science behind high-tech buying decisions, which is basically led by risk perception.

In contrast, Ries' "Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind" presents a more universal approach to positioning.

Ries focuses on the importance of being first in the customer's mind and creating a position that differentiates a brand from its competitors across various markets. His strategies are broadly applicable, transcending specific market types.

Convergence and Divergence in Strategies

We both agree on the fundamental principle that positioning is about securing a unique place in the customer's mind.

However, I place more emphasis on the evolving nature of high-tech buyers and markets and the need for ongoing adaptation and segmentation.

On the other hand, Ries stresses the timeless strategy of being first and establishing a clear, simple position in the customer's mind.

Rise's view is aligned with my view, in the sense that a first-mover advantage based on differentiated technology or core features can and should be transformed into an advantage based on intangibles like industry-specific customer base, case studies, partners, training or support service to appeal to the risk-averse mainstream.

The Role of Intangibles and Market Perception

A key area of convergence is the emphasis on intangibles and market perception. My positioning book highlights the importance of focusing on attributes like customer service and market leadership in high-tech markets. At the same time, Ries discusses the power of branding and mindshare in establishing a strong market position.

Actually, we argue that the way to build a unique, differentiated, high-tech brand is by assembling a set of intangible attributes and communicating messages with the whole product concept that highlights them in the market.

The High-Tech Edge

For businesses in the high-tech sector, I think my insights provide a more nuanced understanding of how to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of technology markets. My focus on market lifecycle, segmentation, and differentiation offers a clear pathway for high-tech companies to achieve effective positioning.

Implementing Positioning Strategies

Adapting Timeless Principles to Today's Market Challenges

In an era where technology evolves rapidly, applying the positioning strategies from both books can be a game-changer.

Leveraging my High-Tech Positioning

  1. Understanding Market Lifecycle: Recognize where your product or service stands in the innovation adoption cycle. This understanding helps tailor your positioning strategy to be more relevant and effective for your target audience.
  2. Segmentation and Differentiation: Focus on identifying unique market segments and crafting a differentiated product positioning. This approach is particularly effective in crowded tech markets.
  3. Emphasis on Intangibles: In the high-tech, the way to find sustainable growth and fit with the risk-averse mainstream buyers is by assembling a whole product and leveraging intangible attributes, such as the 12 we identified across +200 projects. Examples of these attributes are customer base, training or support service. They will significantly impact how your product or company is perceived in mainstream markets.

Applying Ries' Universal Positioning Concepts

  1. Creating a Unique Position: Strive to be the first in a specific category or to own a unique attribute in the customer's mind. This approach helps in establishing a strong and memorable brand identity.
  2. Simplicity and Clarity: Ensure your positioning statement is clear, concise, and easily understood. Avoid overcomplicating your message, as simplicity aids in better brand recall.
  3. Consistency Over Time: Maintain a consistent positioning strategy over time. While adaptation is necessary, the core essence of your positioning should remain stable to build long-term brand equity.

Integrating Both Perspectives for a Robust Positioning Strategy

Integrating my high-tech-specific insights with Ries' broader positioning concepts can create a robust strategy that resonates well with your audience. Companies should be flexible enough to adapt to market changes while maintaining the core principles that define their product (early stages) or brand (established businesses or scale-ups).

Who and what is the Art of High-Tech Positioning book for?

This positioning book aims to help CEOs and founders in high-tech build an effective positioning by following the predictable behaviors of humans when buying, adopting, and diffusing tech products and innovations.

Besides gaining a deeper understanding of high-tech buyer behaviors and realities to position a product, you'll:

  • Learn how to analyze markets.
  • Understand what positioning means to get into the mind of your market.
  • Discover opportunities and craft an Ideal Customer Profile.
  • Understand buyer's motivations.
  • Learn what are the 9 criteria to prioritize segments and opportunities.
  • Craft your positioning statement and positioning platform as the north star of your go-to-market strategy framework.
  • Differentiate from your competitors.
  • Build market influence, awareness, and WOM using your ecosystem map.
  • Learn how to evolve your product positioning messages as your market matures.
  • Learn how the Technology Adoption Lifecycle impacts competitive positioning.
  • Learn how repositioning helps with Crossing The Chasm.

What's the Art of High-Tech Positioning book summary?

We cover the following topics across the 30 pages of the book:

  • Positioning strategy fundamentals.
  • The 5 Cs of the positioning process.
  • Prioritizing market opportunities through segmentation and customer understanding.
  • Differentiation.
  • Defining your positioning platform as the north star for your business and product.
  • Generating a positioning statement.
  • The market ecosystem — or community — concept.
  • Leveraging your community or ecosystem to position your product.
  • Adjusting your positioning messages as your market evolves and your product matures:
  • Testing your competitive positioning strength.

Preview Of The Art of High-tech Positioning book

→ Read the book on your Kindle. Now available on Amazon!

You ask, we answer

What is Positioning?

Position is a noun, not a verb. It means a "position in the mind". It is the perceived status of a product or company within a given market segment relative to its competitors or alternatives (for example, status quo). Something that exists in the mind of the prospect.

Positioning is the single most significant influence on the buying decision — it is a system people use to organize competitive alternatives.

A position exists in people's heads, not your words — you must frame a position in other people's heads. If it doesn't match people's beliefs, your positioning will not be accepted or supported in the short term, and you will have to educate them, creating a new category. That's perfectly fine, but it comes with the need for considerable investments in market education and product adaptation.

Get the positioning book on Amazon!

What are the 5 components of positioning strategy?

We coined the E4C Model for positioning strategy:


You can have a very well-crafted positioning statement. However, without an market ecosystem or infrastructure that helps you build that belief or common understanding in the minds of your market, you'll never gain the status of a go-to solution.

Think about the ecosystem as the pull of players that influence perceptions and build categories in your market category: press, media, publications, thought leaders, luminaries, consultants, advisors, educational institutions, complimentary suppliers, industry associations, standardization organizations...

BTW, it does not matter how you categorize your product in an early stage. what matters is how these players categorize it. They position your product on your behalf, so you better find your ecosystem allies!

Another thought: if this ecosystem or infrastructure does not exist for your market, that's a strong sign that you're creating a market category. Prepare money to educate your market!


Sets the context to define your positioning angle according to your market category maturity, trends, conditions, and existing market beliefs.


Find out problems that are relevant to your target customers. It won't work if you’re different but irrelevant to your target audience.

Company Strengths

We use “credibility” instead of "company" because you might be early in your idea or product and don't have a company. This element means you must uncover your advantages, strengths and weaknesses. Then build your positioning strategy based on those strengths that make you a credible provider in the spaces you’re willing to compete.


Find what your competition is already offering to differentiate. Most importantly, find the whitespace that nobody is serving. Are the customer pains being underserved or over served?

What is an example of a positioning statement?

Here's a positioning statement example with the company we use in the positioning book as a case study: Convertkit.


FOR creators, freelancers, and solopreneurs...


...ConvertKit IS A marketing platform,


...THAT WILL grow their audience and foster their community


...SO THEY CAN earn a living online while reducing time spent on growing and managing their community.



  • It has specific features for creators to connect with fans and directly monetize their work — Core product features and integrations (tangible attributes) built explicitly for this segment.
  • It offers the most extensive library of educative content on how to grow and monetize an audience and a community to learn with peers — Intangible attributes.
  • It’s the preferred marketing platform for + 430,000 creators reaching +250 million fans — Proof of market leadership (intangible attribute).
Author Photo
Jose Bermejo, Founder & Managing Partner.

Thanks for reading my thoughts! I bring 16 years of experience selling and marketing B2B tech products. I define myself as a thinker on the impact of human behavior on innovation adoption, marketing strategy, go-to-market, and business leadership in B2B high-tech. Armed with this knowledge, I help B2B high-tech leaders accelerate traction by aligning their strategy with what buyers want as coach, speaker, and workshop leader.

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