Positioning | Al Ries

Summary of: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
By: Al Ries

Introduction

Prepare to dive into the world of ‘Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind’ by Al Ries, a book that teaches the art of capturing a niche in the minds of prospective customers in an ever-evolving market. This summary delves into the concept of positioning as an essential strategy for businesses and individuals alike to thrive in an over-communicated society. You will learn how to establish a strong position based on your strengths, weaknesses, and those of your competitors, and explore various effective strategies such as being first in the market, finding a hole (or creneau), and repositioning the competition.

The Power of Positioning

Positioning is a crucial strategy to effectively communicate in today’s over-communicated society. The purpose is to establish a unique place inside the customer’s mind, based not only on your company’s strengths and weaknesses but also on those of your competitors.

The key to positioning is to stand out and become the go-to choice for prospective customers. Being the first in someone’s mind is the easiest way to do this. However, if you can’t be first, you can still position yourself competitively against the actual first product, service, idea, or person.

Positioning is not just essential in advertising or promotion but in all forms of personal and business communication. Coping with the overload of messages in our society, people rank information in their minds. Therefore, to effectively position, you must first recognize where your service or product is on the mental ladder of the person(s) you are trying to influence.

Over-simplifying the message is the best approach to take in an over-communicated society. By following the steps and elements of effective positioning, you can achieve the uniqueness that sets yourself apart from others, paving the way to be the market leader in your industry.

The Power of Being First

The key to being a successful brand is to be the first one that customers associate with a particular category. Being the first brand established in a customer’s mind produces significant advantages, and it is crucial for a company to use this short-term flexibility to secure their long-term future. The first brand into one’s brain will get twice as much long-term market share as the second brand and four times as much as the third. However, when two brands compete head-to-head in a category, one of the two will eventually dominate the market in the long-term. As a result, leaders are almost invulnerable in the short-term because momentum supports them; thus, they must focus on their long-term vision. On the other hand, adopting a follower’s strategy is tricky since creating better products than the leaders’ and launching them with a smaller promotional budget rarely works.

Winning Strategies for Success

To succeed in today’s competitive market, it’s essential to fill the “creneau,” or the hole in the market that your product can uniquely fill. The best way to find the creneau is by thinking in reverse and going against the grain. For example, if everyone is making something big, make it small, like the original Volkswagen Beetle. If everyone is making something affordable, fill the premium-priced creneau, as Joy perfume, Michelob beer, and BMW did. Look for the creneau in the public’s mind and avoid trying to share space in already occupied creneaus. Marlboro and Virginia Slims tapped into creneaus based on gender, while Revlon’s “Charlie” perfume succeeded by going against the delicate, feminine image. Packaged and distributed products can create new creneaus, as seen with L’eggs pantyhose. Reject the idea of being everything to everyone and focus on cleverly positioning products and services that fill specific creneaus. By doing so, you increase your chances of survival and success in the market.

Winning through Repositioning

This summary explains how to gain an advantage by repositioning your competition in the consumer’s mind. Rather than searching for a gap in the market, targeting a competitor and shifting their positioning with respect to the customers can be a more successful strategy. By creating a void in the customer’s mind and then filling it with your product or idea, the chances of success increase. The book cites several examples, such as Tylenol and Stolichnaya, which repositioned their competition and became the market leader. The author emphasizes that repositioning should not be mistaken for war, but that it is a potent strategy for anyone willing to excel.

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