Positioning | Al Ries

Summary of: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace
By: Al Ries


Welcome to the world of ‘Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind’, where author Al Ries explores the importance of creating memorable, impactful brand names and marketing strategies. As we traverse through a marketplace saturated with advertisements and media, our mind processes and ranks brands on a metaphorical ladder, often favoring those with the most effective marketing strategies. In this summary, you will discover the secrets behind creating a strong brand position, whether it’s by being the first in the market or finding that perfect niche. We’ll also examine the do’s and don’ts of naming and extending your product line in order to create a name that will withstand the test of time.

The Perils of Information Overload

In a world where we are bombarded by media and advertising, humans have become experts at filtering and blocking out most information we encounter. Since marketing and advertising have exponentially increased in the United States, people have to filter through hundreds of ads every day. As a way to cope with this influx of information, we automatically rank brands and products and place them on a metaphorical ladder in our mind. The brand with the most effective marketing strategy takes the top spot on the ladder, making us want to buy only from them. This has become a significant survival tactic in an over-communicative world, where it’s getting harder than ever for brands to get noticed. Therefore, if you want your product to stand out in a crowded marketplace, your strategy needs to be impressive enough to stand out from the crowd.

The Power of Being First

Being the first in a market gives a significant advantage as people tend to remember the first product they encounter in a category. This effect continues even when new products with similar features are introduced. A prominent example is Coca-Cola, which was the first cola drink introduced on the market and has maintained its position for decades. Similarly, Apple secured the “first” position in the computer market with the Mac, targeted at higher-income earners, and still maintains that position. Being first also allows companies to shape customers’ image of their product without competing against others, which safeguards market dominance. It’s also crucial to note that the first brand in the market sells twice as much as the second one. When introducing new follow-up products in a category, they’re often labeled as “me-too products,” preventing them from attaining the same level of success as the original. Therefore, it’s essential to be the first in the market to establish a lasting impact on people’s minds.

Marketing Trends to Boost Sales

The key to selling your product lies in understanding current marketing trends and finding an effective angle that sticks. Marlboro and Apple are prime examples of brands that secured their position by catering to their respective markets. Once you have defined your marketing approach, it is crucial to stick to it for the long term. Avis, on the other hand, lost their market share after prematurely changing their marketing tagline. The key takeaway is to stay cognizant of marketing trends and once you find an approach that works, stick to it.

Winning Strategy for Follow-up Products

When someone beats you to the market with a similar product, finding innovative ways to market a follow-up product is essential. Firstly, finding a niche in the market is vital, like Michelob, which launched premium-priced beer. If your product follows a leading brand, using their strengths to create an “against” position can help establish your product’s distinct position in the market, like Avis. Tylenol successfully repositioned itself by highlighting Aspirin’s side effects and creating a gap in the market of “safe painkillers” as its largest brand in analgesics.

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