A Response To The Classic Novel: Positioning by Al Ries & Jack Trout
I get it now. Positioning. Positioning happens in the mind of the consumer, no where else. To successfully position oneself, whether a product, idea, person, etc., you must have a dependent to position against. Think football players. If you had one player standing in an empty field, he isn’t doing anything. Add an opposing player standing in front of him, and the two now have relative positions. The battle in our minds begin. Do we want the home team or the away team? Do we want the brand we’ve been loyal to or do we want the new kid on the block? Positioning is a relative game played in consumers minds. It’s like chess, but without the board.
The book finally clicked for me when I read about how automobiles were first introduced into the marketplace. If we’re continuing with the football analogy, think back to when that first player was standing alone in the field. There was no game. There was no excitement. There was nothing happening. No competition. No sales. No profit. Now instead of being introduced as a new player on an empty field, early advertisers positioned automobiles as horseless-carriages, taking a familiar construct in the consumers mind, such as the understanding of a game of football, and adding a new player on the visitors side.
If you’re the first to fill a marketplace, you’ll likely dominate that segment for the foreseeable future. The book describes how we’re in love with first. Who’s the first person you’ve ever kissed? Who’s the second? What’s the first movie you ever watched? What’s the second? While being the first is often times a blessing, Avis used their second place position to their benefit. “Why go with us? We try harder.” Thus, when Avis attempted to claim the number one position from Hertz, they faced opposition. What worked for Avis was their positioning as second, not being the best. Or think 7-Up as the “uncola,” positioning itself as an alternative to either Coke or Pepsi.
Positioning is all around us, and the battle for our minds are played by marketers world-wide. Are we the masters of our own destiny, or are we simply puppets on strings?