Marketing Focus – Positioning
For any of you looking to improve your understanding of marketing, we can recommend a great book called Positioning: The Battle for your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. This book has been heralded as the Most Influential Advertising Book Ever Written and when first published in the 80s it revolutionised marketing thinking.
Over 25 years later the ideas and concepts are still as relevant today and they republished the book with updates to show whether their predictions had been correct and how the new concept of positioning had effected the way people communicated their message. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy and understand the book. It is clearly written with very little jargon and lots of examples to illustrate the concept, plus it’s quite short so doesn’t take up too much time!
For those of you who don’t fancy reading the whole thing, in the next 2 Marketing Focus articles I will be giving you an explanation of positioning and how you can apply it to your business. On March 12th I will also be giving a presentation on Positioning your Company for Success at the International Women’s Day Make it Happen Spain Conference and the following day I will be expanding on this topic in an interactive workshop, so please come along and find out more.
This week’s article covers, Positioning the basics.
What is positioning?
Positioning is the attempt to create a position in its prospects’ minds about a product, service or company. This position takes into consideration what they already think about it and what your competition are doing. It shifts the focus from looking inside the product and company for the message and instead finding your selling point in the minds of the prospect. Positioning does not alter the product, but connects with the reality which is in the prospect’s mind about the product. Its aim is “to manipulate what’s already there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.”
Positioning doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, it prefers to talk to one market strongly than fail to reach anyone by being weak. It is a brave approach which forces companies to face the “truth” and the perceptions about their product and address that head on.
Why is it important?
Positioning is a tactic which has been developed in response to a society which is saturated by marketing messages. This has led consumers to be defensive in the way they respond to advertising messages and only respond to messages which match what they feel they “know” about the product. The founders of this concept feel that it’s a waste of time trying to change a prospect’s mind about your product as this is insulting their perceptions and is likely to alienate them. It’s better to agree with what they think and find the positive selling point in this perception, than trying to convince them of something which contradicts their perceptions.
They maintain that consumers rank companies and products in their minds and allocate certain qualities to it, e.g. Volvo = big and safe, mini = fun and small. In order to climb the rankings and be positioned at the top you need to understand people’s perceptions of your company and your competitors and highlight the differences with your marketing.
They give the example of Avis Car Hire which couldn’t compete head-on with the market leader Hertz so decided to be honest about their market position and show it as an advantage with this great slogan: “Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder!”
This bold honesty turned it from a loss-making company into highly profitable one, almost overnight.
What does positioning suggest we do?
Simplify your message – They suggest responding to an overcommunicated society by supplying an oversimplified message. They encourage us to drop creativity and poetry and just offer stark, clear messages which address the truths our prospect believe they know.
Look at your competitors – Don’t be afraid to evaluate yourself against your competitors and to do it honestly, it’s what your customers are doing!
Think like your customers – Invest in market research and use external advisers to give you a view of your company from outside in. Open your mind to doing things your customers’ way, even if it doesn’t flatter your company or your product. Thinking like your customers will mean you can find the right way to speak to them and make them listen!
Next week I will be looking a strategies to apply positioning to your business.
If you would like some fresh ideas and a new approach to marketing your company, please contact us for a consultation. We can help you identify your position in the market and develop a strong marketing strategy to build on this and improve the way you connect with your potential clients. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange your consultation, or to bring us in to your office for a marketing training and brainstorming session with your team.