Strong positioning paves the way for good copy

Steve’s Niece

My wife Beth Hage is an artist. You may know her as Beth Polinsky from Waterford, CT, a Syracuse University graduate or the Hon. Janet Polinsky’s (Connecticut State Legislature) daughter.

JaguarJust as she would with any product or service, Beth needs a positioning statement to let her audience know what she offers and why they should be interested. Testimonials and her body of work are her supporting claims.

As we covered in The First Three Questions, we needed to fill this in:
To (whom),
(who/what) is the (what is your frame of reference?)
that (what is the benefit that the “whom” will realize?)
because (what are your supporting claims?)

Beth’s positioning statement is:
To proud parents, animal lovers and folks looking for whimsical and highly personalized gifts, Beth Hage is the collage artist who can transform your favorite picture into a unique piece of art, hand crafted to detail the light, the vibrancy and movement.

Click to enlarge ‘Little Lindsay Faye’

Beth made a conscious choice: her work — and her clientèle — are whimsical.

Positioning versus copy

Your positioning statement is meant for you, not your customer. You’ve done your homework: you know your customer insight and source of volume. The positioning statement helps you understand what you’re about so you don’t stray from your marketing strategy.

But positioning is not intended to be copy. A strong positioning statement arms an able copywriter to get your point across without having to spell out the whole thing. Using social proof, the copywriter can help the reader visualize why this product is right for her.

Painting with Paper

We named Beth’s company Painting with Paper. We felt it illustrated the concept and, she found, her clients tend to be intrigued by her process and the mixed media she uses as materials. Here is Beth’s copy (enlarge the thumbnails for a better view).

Click to enlarge ‘Clay’Do you have a favorite picture?

Imagine it as a unique piece of art, hand crafted to detail the light, the vibrancy, the movement. I hand cut and place highly colored papers down on canvas to transform any picture into an energetic collage of color, balance, and whimsy.

Click to enlarge ‘Mitchell’s Boo-Boo’I make a slide from your photograph and project the image onto a canvas, to trace the general image. I look for interesting aspects to highlight, and subdue the less important ones. Then, I find the richest (from my palette of more than 700) highly colored papers to hand cut each detail – every shape, shadow, shade – to make the image jump off the canvas. I’ll pour over hybrid materials and textured papers to enhance each piece to give a more three-dimensional look.Click to enlarge ‘Samantha Brown Eyes’

Glitter highlighted Lindsay Faye’s “Happy New Year” crown. A little corduroy for Mitchell’s hat, some pressed flowers for the “Flower Girl,” and a fibrous textured paper overlay for “Man’s Best Friend.”

To create a sense of movement, I intentionally don’t match up the outlines with the paper. Some areas are purposely left undone, to create a sense of closure, where your eye and mind work together to complete the picture. Your mind balances it for you.

Let me know when you find that perfect photo. I’d love to interpret it for you or for someone you love.

In closing

I love my wife’s artwork and wanted to feature it here. And, with all my writing about positioning, I wanted to make sure readers understand: even the best positioning statement should not substitute for good copy. You’re responsible for thinking through the questions. Find a great copywriter to sell it to your masses.

I’ll leave you with two of my favorite pieces of Beth’s work. Enjoy, and drop us a line. Beth would love to hear from you.

Click to enlarge ‘Onondaga’

Click to enlarge 'Botswana Photo Shoot'


  1. Honorable Janet says:


  2. Love the pictures. Sigh… I may be able to afford more than peanut butter and jelly when the market comes back. I would love to have a picture of my family as the kids were growing up.
    I believe in strong positioning since our class last night. I need to know how to do more of it. Thank you for your expertise.
    Caroline Strittmatter,
    Executive Real Estate inc.

  3. And here all this time I thought you were the talented one. Good thing you married well! 🙂

    All joking aside. The example is helpful because I’m still chewing on your Biznik article about positioning statements and this helps with the “gooey stuff” of providing a service.


  4. Joe,

    What breathtaking work. Just amazing.

    And Beth’s positioning statement really does say it all: audience, benefit and proof. Thanks for the valuable insight.


  5. WOW! What a concept… I can see the light of gifts at Christmas! Where do I find Beth’s price policy?

  6. Dawn, thank you! This is Beth.

    My prices really depend on the piece. Gather some photos that you’d want me to make and we’ll talk!


  7. I’m thinking of doing my Mom &/or my Mom &
    Dad. Mom is waxing fragile and I would like the family having something along the way…

  8. I especially like the Onondaga image. Reminds me of living in Boston years ago.

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