POSITIONING: The Battle For Your Mind

by Ries  & Trout

Positioning-cover copy


Print Length: 224 pages
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (January 3, 2001)
Publication Date:
Format: ebook
Source: Amazon
Rating:  4.2 stars


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Positioning is one of the major tasks of every marketer. This time it is not what you do to a product– it’s what you do to the prospect’s mind to condition how he/she thinks about the product.  While you know that your brand is special, your potential customers won’t unless you tell them. Positioning is more than just showing the features of your brand; you’ve got to explain the benefits–exactly how that brand fulfill a yearning, or better, satisfy a need that the customer has. You should be able to set your brand apart from the rest of the pack . . . and this is called differentiation – collection of differences in features and benefits versus competitive brands. The key is to determine how important these collective differences are to buyers and then communicate them to potential buyers through your entire arsenal of marketing tools, from distribution to packaging.


A good brand positioning involves creating brand associations in customers’ minds to make them perceive the brand in a specific way.


Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind will help you craft the process of coping with the mental position that a larger, more established competitor occupies. The book presents tools to cope with information overload (and anxiety). It teaches the real concept of positioning: successful positioning requires consistency – have to hang in there year after year if the positioning seems to be working. It is not creating something new and different all the time , but manipulating what’s already in the mind.

In  summary, the book takes you to the insightful  look and challenge of positioning your product in the prospect’s mind.


Book excerpts:

The Importance Of Being First

  • The easy way to get into a person’s mind is to be first.
  • Get there first and then be careful not to give customers a reason to switch 


Coping With Position Leaders

  • To be good at positioning, you must have total understanding of the positions occupied by the competition.

(1) Honda entered the motorcycle market against Harley Davidson by introducing off-road minibikes aimed at pre-teens – and being very patient. Overtime, Harley lost and recouped only by positioning itself at the “high end” for the serious, adult motorcycle fan.

(2) IBM failed miserably with copiers; Xerox failed miserably with computers; Kodak failed miserably with instant photography against Polaroid.

  •  It’s extremely difficult to change an established position (or image). Far better to create a new niche in the prospect’s mind by creating a new position around a new product (P & G strategy).
  • Don’t forget,  “Orange juice isn’t just for breakfast anymore.”


What Works For A Leader Doesn’t Necessarily Work For A Follower.

  • How do you find an open position in a prospect’s mind? Look for the hole.
  • Volkswagen in the early days preempted the “think small” position at a time when Detroit was overwhelmingly “big.”
  • BMW and Mercedes occupy the “high price, prestige” hole.
  • What masculinity did for Marlboro, femininity did for Virginia Slims.
  • Low price is a good “hole” for a new, untried product (consumer electronics for example)


The Importance Of Names

  • Vital to name products so that they stand for something amidst the cluttered marketplace. Naming begins the positioning process. The better names often tell the prospect about the major benefit.
  • A new product needs a new name.
  • Rules Of Naming:

(1) Potential winners should not bear the house name. Small volume products should. With few competitors, the brand should not bear the house name. In a crowded field, it should.

(2) Products with big advertising budgets should not support the company name; small budget brands should.

(3) Breakthrough products should not bear the house name; Commodity products should.

(4) Off-the-shelf items should not bear the house name; items sold by sales reps should.

To Play The Positioning Game

  • The meanings are not in the words. They are in the minds of the people using the words
  •  Know how words affect people; words are triggers for meanings buried in the mind.
  • With the right choice of words, you can influence the thinking process itself.
  • You need objectivity; be brutally frank with no ego in the decision making process.
  • You need simplicity; only an obvious idea will work today.
  • You need subtlety; it’s tough to find an open position that is also effective.
  • You must be willing to give ground; not to be all things to all people.

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