Positioning is about strategically marketing yourself so that you fulfill a perceived need in someone else’s mind. Jack Trout pioneered the concept back in 1969, and has been writing about it ever since. Positioning is about finding the most advantageous position against your enemy. It’s how you differentiate yourself in your customer’s mind. Positioning is based upon the customer’s experience with an offering and it is a comparison to the competition.
Trout went on to co-author the bestselling book “Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind.” In it, he says 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.”
In a new article, Trout says that consumer minds are limited, hate confusion, are insecure, don’t change, and lose focus.
Today our brains are overloaded by tons of information and we only have so much room inside our heads. Your product or service must “fit” into a slot or position in the mind. It can be a tool to solve a perceived problem or improve a situation.
Marketing messages must be kept simple, since we don’t have the time, energy, or patience to digest complicated marketing messages.
Our minds are insecure in that we are by nature quite emotional, and don’t always know why we buy certain things. This means that advertisers can suggest a whole range of “solutions” for problems we didn’t even know we had.
It’s difficult to change someone’s mind or belief system, so Trout says not to bother trying to do just that with a 30-second commercial. You are far better off finding a niche within someone’s existing belief structure.
We also lose focus easily. When companies extend their brand line, the brand image can be weakened. It is weakened because there is less of a clear picture of your brand in the minds of your potential customers. The Harvard Business Review says, “Unchecked product-line extension can weaken a brand’s image, disturb trade relations and disguise cost increases.”
Trout ends by encouraging us to stand for something and be a “well-focused specialist.” Specialists can focus on one product or message at a time, and focus on being the leader in their field. Their marketing strategies are less convoluted and easier to digest because they are choosing to specialize. A hallmark of this kind of success occurs when your product or service becomes the default term for the industry. Think “Google it” or “Xerox those papers.”
John Bradley Jackson
Entrepreneur, Professor, Author
Deja New Marketing
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