On Positioning

I recently finished reading the book Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

This is a classic in the marketing field. The authors define positioning as “a new approach to communication…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.”

The book then goes on to present the concept of positioning, and the associated challenges and opportunities. What sets this book apart is the plethora of examples that are provided from a variety of industries (both services and products) that illustrate both how position can and should be used, and how it shouldn’t be.

Finally the authors extend the concept of positioning and show how it can be applied to one’s self and career. In addition how one can start a positioning program for a business.

A very insightful and educational book –  a must read in the business arena and particularly the marketing field.

Below are some key excerpts from this book:

1) “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 circumstance.”

2) “Leaders should use their short-term flexibility to assure themselves of a stable long-term future. As a matter of fact, the marketing leader is usually the one who moves the ladder into the mind with his or her brand nailed to the one and only rung.”

3) “This is the classic mistake made by the leader. The illusion that the power of the product is derived from the power of the organization. It’s just the reverse. The power of the organization is derived from the power of the product, the position that the product owns in the prospect’s mind.”

4) “But today in the product arena and in the political arena, you have to have a position. There are too many competitors out there. You can’t win by not making enemies, by being everything to everybody. To win in today’s competitive environment, you have to go out and make friends, carve out a specific niche in the market. Even if you lose a few doing so.”

5) “With a good name your positioning job is going to be a lot easier.”

6) “A name is a rubber band. It will stretch, but not beyond a certain point. Furthermore, the more you stretch a name, the weaker it becomes.”

7) “The lesson here is that a succesfull positioning program requires a major long-term commitment by the people in charge.”

8) “The solution to a positioning problem is usually found in the prospect’s mind, not in the product.”

9) “Positioning yourself and your career…Define yourself…Make mistakes…Make sure your name is right…Avoid the no-name trap…Avoid the line-extension trap…Find a horse to ride…The first horse to ride is your company…The second horse to ride is your boss…The third horse to ride is a friend…The fourth horse to ride is an idea…The fifth horse to ride is faith…The sixth horse to ride is yourself.”

10) “Positioning your business…What position do you own?…What position do you want to own?…Whom must you outgun?…Do you have enough money?…Can you stick it out?…Do you match your position?…The role of the outsider…What the outsider doesn’t supply.”

11) “Playing the positioning game…You must understand the roles of words…You must know how words affect people…You must be careful of change…You need vision…You need courage…You need objectivity…You need simplicity…You need subtlety…You must be willing to sacrifice…You need a global outlook…What you don’t need.”


Omar Halabieh




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