Effective Marketing Part IV: Positioning

This section deals with Positioning. My cryptic recommendation is read the book by Trout and Reis and apply it:

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Now that doesn’t make for a very good blog post, so let’s dive into it a little.

First, let me say that the book, Positioning, should not only be part of every marketing person’s thought process, it ought to be part of every company exec’s as well. In fact, all three books I have recommended should be. In order to succeeed, any strategies to grow and expand a company must follow the natural laws these books document.

The theory behind positioning is that you have to 1) position your company and/or your product in the mind of the consumer, and 2) a very effective way to position is against other know products or companies.

For example, Mercedes-Benz is a known quantity with a reputation that people recognize. M-B has a position in people’s minds. When Lexus came out, they compared themselves against Mercedes. They didn’t compare against Cadillac or Lincoln, they compared themselves against Mercedes. Interestingly, they didn’t compare themselves as equal to or better than but similar to and striving to become that.

In doing that, they effectively leapfrogged over other cars in the luxury sedan segment and have now positioned themselves in the mind of customers. If you think of Lexus today, you think of quality, luxury, low maintenance, a pleasure to drive and own.

Take a look at Saturn, the car company. Their pitch was, “A different kind of company, a different kind of car.” Their unique pitch was one-price shopping with a mediocre car. They didn’t have a campaign that positioned Saturn cars in people’s mind. The only thing unique about a Saturn was the buying experience.

While an important part of the total car ownership process, people don’t spend nearly as much time buying a car as they do driving or owning a car. Once the buying process is done, it’s done. Two, three, five years later, if the customer is happy they’ll go back to the Saturn dealership to buy another car. But if the car is mediocre (and it was) and there’s nothing to fix Saturn as a desirable car to own and drive in people’s minds, they’ve got nothing.

Today Saturn is out of business. I’d say that the GM marketing gurus didn’t do their market research very well because not only did they miss on the car, they missed on the marketing by a mile.

Conversely, when the Dodge Viper came out, I was in LA and the 6:00 news had a segment on the first Viper to hit the LA basin. They videoed the car being backed off the car hauler and driven into the car lot. That is a PR coup of all coups, let me tell you!

Now how did Chrysler position the Viper? No holds barred, pure heart-pumping performance. Raw torque and horspepower, a pure American sports car. No roof, for crying out loud! They even had a Shelby Cobra as part of their marketing pitch, a car with a legendary following. They presented the Viper as a successor to the Cobra, an evolution, even making posters of the Cobra and Shelby Daytona Coupe in the background behind a Viper.

They took an existing car with a strong position in the enthusiast marketplace and positioned the Viper against that. Customers could identify what the Viper was because it was compared against something they already knew well.

When you’re creating your marketing campaigns, you MUST MUST MUST pay attention to Positioning.

Define what that position needs to be, figure out what is going to get your customers to place your product in that position in their mind, and have at it.

Do your market research, find out what the buttons are, define your message, and make sure your message and your marketing campaigns position your company or product in the minds of your customers.

And just like that, we’ve wrapped up the Marketing overview of Going Viral.

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