Many people consider marketing as a means to let creative juices flow.
In many ways, this can be true. But what many do not realize is that marketing needs common sense and logic to a certain extent. This applies to both internal and external marketing. Companies tend to lose focus – whether it be because it is having a difficult time dealing with high growth or because a few upper management wanna-be’s’ try something bold (without thinking). This is where positioning comes into play – if you want to survive or prosper, that is. So what is positioning about? Positioning is a concept that sparked a revolution in advertising.
It was developed in by the authors of “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”, Al Ries and Jack Trout. The book was published in 1981 and became one of the top sellers or all time. Positioning was the first concept to deal with the problems of communication in an over-communicated society. With positioning you can beat the competition and win the battle for recognition in an overcrowded, media-blitzed marketplace. With this approach, a company creates a position’ in the prospect’s mind, one that reflects the company’s own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of its competitors. Product positioning is an important strategy for achieving differential advantage. Positioning reflects the “place” a product occupies in a market or segment.
A successful position has characteristics that are both differentiating and important to consumers. Every product has some sort of position – whether intended or not. Positions are based upon consumer perceptions, which may or may not reflect reality. A position is effectively built by communicating a consistent message to consumers about the product and where it fits into the market – through advertising, brand name, and packaging.Positioning is believed to represent the single largest influence on a consumer’s decision to buy. It serves as a sort of shorthand, which allows consumers to form opinions on how to evaluate their alternatives and quickly make a choice.
In the book “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind”, Ries and Trout argue that, like a memory bank of a computer, the mind has a slot or position for each bit of information it has chosen to retain. The book does have a slightly historical flavour, since the most contemporary business examples cited arrive from the 1970’s and 1980’s. While a lot has changed since then, a lot hasn’t.
It remains relevant to the contemporary business world and is probably more valuable than ever before, despite the fact that it was written before the arrival of the Internet and globalization. When Ries and Trout wrote this book two decades ago, the positioning strategies they recommended were in response to a competitive marketplace quite different from the one they and we now survey. Nonetheless, the urgency of effective positioning remains. Positioning relates to developing the marketing strategy for an organization. Rather than focusing on business processes or the product, positioning is about how the customer perceives the product or service. Communicating in an over-communicated societyRies and Trout discuss how the mind works relating to receiving and responding to marketing messages. Today people are bombarded with information and marketing messages.
The total of all printed knowledge doubles every four or five years. More than 4000 books are published around the world every day. With the Internet, there is an inconceivable amount of information available to anyone with a personal computer and a modem. With all of this “noise”, it’s amazing we can even get a marketing message through to a customer or potential customer. The overload of information creates mental clutter and confusion. In order to penetrate this noise, the marketing communicator must present a very simple, straightforward message in a way that is attractive to the customer or potential customer. According to Ries and Trout, “The only answer to the problems of an over-communicated society is the positioning answer.
” According to Ries and Trout, people tend to use “mental ladders” where they rank a company in their minds. You’re in a great position if you’re on the top of the ladder; however, even those at the top can come tumbling down. It’s all about what people think your company is about – not necessarily what you think your company is. Furthermore, your competitors are right there with you on those “mental ladders” – and again, it is a lot about who the mind thinks your competitors are.Does this mean you need to be able to read people’s minds? When you think about it, the answer is arguably yes. Ries and Trout offer advice on positioning for leaders, positioning for followers and repositioning a concept/product/service/competition.
They also look at the power of company/product/brand names. For example, abbreviated names tend to work for those who have already established themselves. And then again, abbreviations work only if its something the mind can remember. Another interesting area they discussed is line extension.
Line extension tends to be a company’s first thought when they want to grow. Unfortunately, it can be their road to failure.