Marketing is not a static discipline. Marketing is a constantly changing discipline and positioning is one of those revolutionary changes that keeps the marketing field alive, interesting, exciting, and fascinating.
Today, communication itself is the problem. We have become the world’s first overcommunicated society. Each year, we send more and receive less.
The main problem in everything is communication (in marriage, marketing, government) and today we suffered from over-communication society
Positioning starts with a product. A piece of merchandise, a service, a company, an institution, or even a person. Perhaps yourself. But positioning is not what you do to a product.
Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.
That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.
Most people think positioning got started in 1972 when Al Ries & Jack Trout wrote a series of articles entitled “The Positioning Era” for the trade paper Advertising Age.
“We’re the third largest-selling coffee in America,” say the Sanka radio commercials.
The third largest? Whatever happened to those good old advertising words like “first” and “best” and “finest”? Well, the good old advertising days are gone forever and so are the words.
Today you find comparatives, not superlatives.
What positioning is all about?
To be successful today, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that counts is what’s already in the prospect’s mind. To be creative, to create something that doesn’t already exist in the mind, is becoming more and more difficult. If not impossible.
The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what’s already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.
In the communication jungle out there, the only hope to score big is to be selective, to concentrate on narrow targets, to practice segmentation. In a word, “positioning.”
The mind, as a defense against the volume of today’s communications, screens and rejects much of the information offered to it. In general, the mind accepts only that which matches prior knowledge or experience.
The best approach to take in our overcommunicated society is the oversimplified message.
Better vs Different
Think inside out.
You look for the solution to your problem not inside the product, not even inside your own mind. You look for the solution to your problem inside the prospect’s mind. In other words, since so little of your message is going to get through anyway, you ignore the sending side and concentrate on the receiving end. You concentrate on the perceptions of the prospect.
Not the reality of the product.
But what about truth? What about the facts of the situation? What is truth? What is objective reality? Every human being seems to believe intuitively that he or she alone holds the key to universal truth. When we talk about truth, what truth are we talking about? The view from the inside or the view from the outside?
The media explosion Another reason our messages keep getting lost is the number of media we have invented to serve our communication needs.
There is television. Commercial, cable, and pay. There’s radio. AM and FM. There’s outdoor. Posters and billboards. There are newspapers. Morning, evening, daily, weekly, and Sunday. There are magazines. Mass magazines, class magazines, enthusiast magazines, business magazines, trade magazines. And, of course, buses, trucks, streetcars, subways, and taxicabs. Generally speaking, anything that moves today is carrying a “message from our sponsor.”
Getting into the mind
Category first, Brand second
Positioning is an organized system for finding a window in the mind. It is based on the concept that communication can only take place at the right time and under the right circumstances.
The easy way into the mind The easy way to get into a person’s mind is to be first.
First person to walk on the moon is “Neil Armstrong”, what is the name of the second person?
What is the name of the highest mountain in the world, Everest in the himalayas. What is the second?
Kodak in photography, Kleenex in tissue, Xerox in plainpaper copiers, Hertz in rent-a-cars, Coca in cola, General in electric.
What’s true in business is true in nature too. “Imprinting” is the term animal biologists use to describe the first encounter between a newborn animal and its natural mother. It takes only a few seconds to fix indelibly in the memory of the young animal the identity of its parent. You might think all ducks look alike, but even a day-old duckling will always recognize its mother, no matter how much you mix up the flock. Well, that’s not quite true.
If the imprinting process is interrupted by the substitution of a dog or cat or even a human being, the duckling will treat the substitute as its natural mother.
No matter how different the creature looks.
The most important element in positioning is not the message, it’s the mind… an empty place in the mind.
IBM didn’t invent the computer. Sperry-Rand did. But IBM was the first company to build a computer position in the mind of the prospect.
The Sperry-Rand of the fifteenth century was Christopher Columbus. As every schoolchild knows, the man who discovered America was poorly rewarded for his efforts.
Christopher Columbus made the mistake of looking for gold and keeping his mouth shut. Amerigo Vespucci didn’t. The IBM of the fifteenth century, Amerigo was 5 years behind Christopher. But he did two things right.
First, he positioned the New World as a separate continent, totally distinct from Asia.
This caused a revolution in the geography of his day.
Second, he wrote extensively about his discoveries and theories. Especially significant are the five letters of his third voyage. One (Mundus Novus) was translated into 40 different languages over a 25-year period. Before he died, Spain granted him Castilian citizenship and gave him a major state post. As a result, the Europeans credited Amerigo and named america after him, Christopher Columbus died in jail.
According to Harvard psychologist Dr. George A. Miller, the average human mind cannot deal with more than seven units at a time. Which is why seven is a popular number for lists that have to be remembered. Seven-digit phone numbers, the Seven Wonders of the World, seven-card stud, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The Product Ladder
The first automobile, for example, was called a “horseless” carriage, a name which allowed the public to position the concept against the existing mode of transportation. Words like “off-track” betting, “lead-free” gasoline, and “sugar-free” soda are all examples of how new concepts can best be positioned against the old.
If a company isn’t the first, then it has to be the first to occupy the No. 2 position. It’s not an easy task. But it can be done. What Avis is doing with rent-a-cars, Burger King is doing with fast foods, and Pepsi is doing with cola.
To find a unique position, you must ignore conventional logic. Conventional logic says you find your concept inside yourself or inside the product. Not true. What you must do is look inside the prospect’s mind. You won’t find an “un-cola” idea inside a 7-Up can. You find it inside the cola drinker’s head.
Yet after a company has executed a brilliant positioning coup, too often it falls into what we call the F.W.M.T.S. trap: “Forgot what made them successful.”
Positioning of a leader
You have to build a leadership position in the prospect’s terms.
Sales Management changed its name to Sales & Marketing Management to encompass the fast-growing function of marketing. At some point in the future the publication could drop the other shoe and change again. To Marketing Management.
How do you find an open position in the prospect’s mind?
You must have the ability to think in reverse, to go against the grain. If everyone else is going east, see if you can find your niche by going west. A strategy that worked for Christopher Columbus can also work for you.
One common mistake in looking for your position is filling a hole in the factory rather than one in the mind.
If you get to the mind first, any name is going to work.
If you didn’t get there first, then you are flirting with disaster if you don’t select an appropriate name.
In positioning, the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily the best strategy. The obvious name isn’t always the best name. Inside-out thinking is the biggest barrier to success. Outside-in thinking is the best aid.
If Coke is not available or if other brands are cheap enough, then the prospect might buy something else. But Coke would still own a strong position in the mind.
Marketing is like horse racing. The winning horse is not necessarily a good horse. It all depends on the ability of the horses in the race.
The more you stretch a name, the weaker it becomes.
(Just the opposite of what you might expect.)
The first step in any positioning program is to look inside the mind of the prospect.
Most positioning programs are nothing more or less than a search for the obvious.
Yet the obvious is easy to miss if you focus too quickly on the product itself.
The solution to a positioning problem is usually found in the prospect’s mind, not in the product.
Regardless of how much money you spend, regardless of how technologically interesting your service is, to get inside the prospect’s mind, you have to relate to what’s already there.
Case Study: Repositioning an Argentinean technology company.
Perceptual mapping is a visual representation of where a brand, product, or service stands among competitors. It is also known as positional mapping.