This article is based on Julien Sauvage’s talk at the Product Marketing Summit in San Francisco. As a PMA member, you can enjoy the complete recording here. For more exclusive content, head over to your membership dashboard.

There are thousands of definitions of positioning out there, but here’s how I see it:

Positioning is defining what makes you the best at something the buyer wants.

But is positioning an art or a science? It’s a question that’s always intrigued me. So, today we’re going to dive into a seven-part positioning framework and break it down step by step. Because there are seven of them, I like to match the steps to the days of the week:

Monday: Align the team

Tuesday: Know the market

Wednesday: Extract the value

Thursday: Build the narrative

Friday: Drive it internally

Saturday: Assess its impact

Sunday: Rest up

The seven-step positioning framework

Monday: Align the team

The first step is aligning the team. But is this an art or a science?

Personally, I lean toward the scientific side. Let me explain why by listing the crucial elements of aligning a team that fall under the banners of art and science.

It’s an art! 🎨

  • Agreeing on a definition: Getting all parties to agree on what positioning means is a more subjective, artistic challenge.
  • Leadership dynamics: If your CEO is a bit… temperamental, that human dynamic gets tangled up in the positioning work in an unpredictable way. 
  • Emotional attachment: As the old saying goes, you have to “get rid of the old to make way for the new” when it comes to positioning. But that process of letting go of legacy messaging and familiar positioning is an emotional one – it's not easy for people to abandon what they're used to.
  • Communication hurdles: Even with a brilliant positioning plan, if you fail to communicate it artfully and get buy-in, true cross-functional alignment will suffer. The people skills required for effective communication are more artistic.

However, I think the scientific aspects outweigh the artistic ones. Let’s take a look.

It’s a science! 🔬

  • Defining what positioning means: You can take a methodical approach to defining what positioning means for the company – regardless of whether everyone agrees right off the bat. As the product marketing authority, you get to lay out the vision.
  • Clear ownership: Assigning clear owners through a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) matrix is crucial for alignment. It avoids messaging anarchy where anyone can throw in their two cents.
  • Determining the expected outcomes: Before kicking anything off, you scientifically determine and align on the precise outcomes you want the positioning work to achieve. Those goals need to be established upfront.
  • Shared success metrics: Breaking down silos and driving alignment by having teams share relevant success metrics across functions is crucial. 
  • Structured plan: The vision and process for your positioning are encapsulated in a strong, structured charter deck that you can socialize across the company in a roadshow format. This is a scientific knowledge-sharing approach.
  • Official kickoff: You should always host a formal kickoff meeting to officially rally all stakeholders from the outset and set the vision. 

As you can see, the list of scientific aspects is much longer than the list of artistic ones. That’s why, in my book, aligning the team as you start to create your new positioning is more of a science than an art.

Tuesday: Know the market

Okay, knowing your market – art or science?

I see it mostly as a science. Let’s dive into the crucial aspects of this stage of the positioning process and explore why. 

It’s a science! 🔬

  • Gathering customer feedback: Leveraging a variety of channels like surveys, interviews, and focus groups to directly gather customer insights and understand their perspectives is a key element of knowing your market.
  • Win/loss analysis: Conducting in-depth reviews of closed deals and lost opportunities to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement based on real outcomes is another highly methodical process. Clozd is a great platform for this.
  • Getting sales teams’ input: One of the best sources of data is the unfiltered voice of your sales reps who have direct frontline experience with buyer needs, objections, and competitor landscapes.
  • Competitive analysis: You can use tools like Klue and Crayon to systematically track, analyze, and understand competitor positioning, messaging, and go-to-market motions.
  • Social listening: Another key aspect of getting to know your market is pulling and analyzing the language that people are using across social media, review sites, and other digital channels in your space. Sprout Social and Meltwater are great tools for this.

To give you an idea of what all this looks like in practice, here’s a taste of how we keep an eye on the market at Clari:

Feedback channel

Channel owner



Intended audience

Customer Advisory Board

Customer marketing

A small, select group of VP+ executives, sourced from existing customers, which meets regularly to network and discuss and validate corporate, marketing, and product strategy.

Focus groups 


Product (primary) 




Conversation intelligence tool meant to monitor live conversations with customers.

Call recording


Clozd win/loss program


Interviews with prospects/customers who evaluated Clari in addition to other vendors.



Analyst relations program

Corp marketing & PMM

Relationship with Analyst Community (E.g. Gartner, Forrester, etc.) used to conduct briefings, inquiries, and obtain access to their market research portals


Desk research

Product (primary) 




Competitive tracking tool that tracks and aggregates market news, changes to competitor websites, customer reviews, etc. Stores competitive battlecards as well.

Desk research


Vendor review sites (G2)

Customer marketing

External review sites permitting market stakeholders to browse, evaluate, and review their experiences using different software solutions. Great source of qualitative feedback.

Desk research

GTM (primary) 


There’s much more to it than that of course, but nobody wants to read a 15-row table! The point is that we’ve listed out all of the channels that give us an insight into the market, along with the channel owners, deliverables, and target audience. I’d encourage you to do the same.