Valid Evaluation

Evidence of the Right Outcome. Valid Evaluation, a startup online evaluation system, engaged Posit Partners to help them position themselves in a nascent market with no clear frontrunner: business plan competitions. Posit Partners worked with the Valid Evaluation leadership team to:

  • Define their positioning strategy in a positioning brief
  • Create cohesive, compelling messaging, including a tagline
  • Write a downloadable brochure
  • Script an introductory video

Positioning: Who Are You? Are You Sure?

To inform the positioning brief, which was the foundation of all subsequent work, we conducted an online competitive audit and internal and external interviews. For the audit, we considered four companies with offerings similar to, but not the same as, Valid Evaluation’s offerings. These companies compete in the space that Valid Evaluation wanted to claim: startup contests and incubators that must decide who to award funds to in a competitive environment.

Next, we conducted internal and external interviews. We spoke to the Valid Evaluation leadership team to determine whether they agreed on the company’s goals, strengths, and weaknesses. We also interviewed customers and potential customers to gain insight into how Valid Evaluation’s offerings met (or didn’t meet) their needs; how Valid Evaluation could better serve them; and the strengths and weaknesses of the offering and the company.

In the course of compiling and analyzing the audit and the interviews, we discovered a large and under-served market for Valid Evaluation’s offerings: government organizations awarding grants.

Considering a Pivot

The discovery of this potential market offered a turning point in how we thought about determining Valid Evaluation’s position in the marketplace. We presented a positioning brief to the company that included a different lens with which to look at what they offer. Instead selling a tool, we suggested they sell a capability, which would open up their potential market to much more than business competitions. Positioning Valid Evaluation as the best provider of a capability while using product features as proof points would allow them to reframe the conversation in a way that would vastly expand their sales opportunities.

We defined a position that lives at the intersection of what the company does best and excels at providing, and what customers care about and want most:

Valid Evaluation is a system that makes decision-making visible, outcomes defensible and feedback actionable.

The Essence of Strategy is Sacrifice

The Valid Evaluation leadership team quickly got behind this pivot. Now, the challenge was to identify the company’s essential differentiators—the basis for key messages that would address all audiences, remain true to the flagship products’ strengths, and stand the test of time. The three key messages were derived from the positioning statement:

  1. Visible Decision-making: Contested resources are a fact of life. Contested outcomes are a sign that people aren’t getting enough information.
  2. Defensible Outcomes: Valid Evaluation is an evidence-based system that exposes logic and reduces subjectivity, minimizing the role that bias can play in any outcome.
  3. Actionable Feedback: Winners rarely wonder why they won, but runners-up look for an acceptable explanation of loss, as well as guidance about what they can do differently in the future.

Moving Ahead – Evidence of the Right Outcome

With positioning and messaging firmly established, we could create clear, concise marketing copy that works in print collateral as well as on the Valid Evaluation website. We also composed a script that became the basis of the company’s online video. With these tools in place—all supporting a unique and credible claim in the form of a new tagline, Evidence of the Right Outcome—the company is quickly moving to address a bigger market  and ramp up sales. Time elapsed from project kick-off to completion? Eight weeks.