Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

It’s been about thirty years since I read the original text by Al Ries and Jack Trout and I just finished reading the 2001 version. It’s a classic marketing book. Here are a few tidbits from the book.

  • Positioning is not what you do to a product. Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect.
  • Positioning as 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 basic approach to 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.
  • Advertising is not a sledgehammer. It’s more like a light fog, a very light fog that envelops your prospects.
  • 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 best approach to take in our overcommunicated society is the oversimplified message.
  • In communication, as in architecture, less is more. You have to sharpen your message to cut into the mind. You have to jettison the ambiguities, simplify the message, and then simplify it some more if you want to make a long-lasting impression.
  • If you have a truly new product, it’s often better to tell the prospect what the product is not, rather than what it is.
  • 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.
  • In a product ad, the dominant element is usually the picture, the visual element. In a service ad, the dominant element is usually the words, the verbal element.
  • The solution to a positioning problem is usually found in the prospect’s mind, not in the product.
  • Trying harder is rarely the pathway to success. Trying smarter is the better way.
  • Never be afraid of conflict.
  • An idea or concept without an element of conflict is not an idea at all.
  • With a given number of dollars, it’s better to overspend in one city than to underspend in several cities. If you become successful in one location, you can always roll out the program to other places.
  • With rare exceptions, a company should almost never change its basic positioning strategy. Only its tactics, those short-term maneuvers that are intended to implement a long-term strategy.
  • Creativity by itself is worthless. Only when it is subordinated to the positioning objective can creativity make a contribution.
  • Objectivity is the key ingredient supplied by the advertising or marketing communication or public relations agency.
  • To be successful today in positioning, you must have a large degree of mental flexibility. You must be able to select and use words with as much disdain for the history book as for the dictionary.
  • Language is the currency of the mind. To think conceptually, you manipulate words. With the right choice of words, you can influence the thinking process itself.
  • The first rule of positioning is: To win the battle for the mind, you can’t compete head-on against a company that has a strong, established position. You can go around, under or over, but never head to head.
  • In our overcommunicated society, the name of the game today is positioning.