Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Positioning — The Battle For Your Mind
by Jack Trout and Al Ries



I have long heard how good this book is. Yet, I only just now read it. I should have read it ages ago. It is brief, and it so clearly shows how you should position your business or product. We all do it wrong, because we don’t take into account the ‘ladders’ in people’s minds. Read my notes (or better still, the book) and you will see what I mean.

Everyone talks about communication’s role in business. It’s not what matters. We are over communicated. Every company is trying to hit us with some message.

So what should you focus on, if not communication? Create a “position” in the prospects mind. A position that takes into consideration not only a company’s own strengths and weaknesses, but those of its competitors as well.

Here’s the thing: The prospect will position you anyway. So take care to help them position you where you want to be.

We all create these positions for products and business, because it simplifies things, its our way of coping with so many messages.

The easy way to get into a person’s mind: BE FIRST!

Someone’s already there? Then you must find a way to position yourself against whoever got there first.

People have learned to rank products on mental ladders. Before you start trying to position something, know where it is in their mind already. You must position against any preconceived ideas too.

When going against the giant, #1 company, you can’t just go head to head. You have to find some other way, being different on purpose. Don’t go against IBM by trying to be just like IBM.

The name is the first and most important piece. This is the foundation of the positioning you will do.

To be successful, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that matters is what’s already in the prospects mind.

Find something you can be first in. Then, hit ‘em hard with advertising. Be the firstest with the mostest.

Why can’t you just go against whatever position you end up with? Because the mind rejects new information that doesn’t “compute.” It accepts only that new information which matches its current state of mind. It filters out everything else.

Consumers are like chickens. They are much more comfortable with a pecking order that everybody knows about and accepts.

Power laws are in effect. Pareto principle, 80/20, all that stuff.

So, almost all the advantages accrue to the leader.

Don’t try to trick the prospect. Advertising is not a debate. It’s a seduction.

Skip the acronyms when you name your business or products. You’re a jerk for thinking people should remember that stuff. IBM gets away with it because they are a leader. Leaders can do it. They also spent lots on advertising. Since the name is so important, stay away from acronyms.

Understand words. They are vital.

Words are triggers. They trigger the meanings which are buried in the mind. Language is the currency of the mind.

The essence of positioning is sacrifice. You must be willing to give up something in order to establish that unique position.

ex. NyQuil gave up the daytime market, in order to be the leader of the nighttime market.

In positioning, smaller may be better. Its better to go after a smaller target that you can be the leader of, than a bigger market where you have to share with other brands.

You can’t be all things to all people and still have a powerful position.

I love the authors concluding remarks:

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.