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on September 11, 2010
Trout and Reis have been quoted so much in conferences and books and programs I've taken that I expected a lot of this book. I found many of the insights and discussions very interesting but didn't take away a ton of great lessons from the book. Most of the stats are very old and many of the stories aren't relevant to today. If you're a marketer working for P&G or Kimberly Clark or one of the packaged goods companies I think there is a lot to be learned from these two authors. If you're an entrepreneur I think you'll find much better books out there to help you understand your brand and how to position yourself. Start with books like Influence by Cialdini, Michael Masterson's series of books, and even some of the old marketing classics.

Please don't get me wrong - the book is well thought out and there are a lot of very interesting stories. The underlying messages about positioning are definitely valuable but it was a long haul listening to this collection of CD's trying to find the nuggets of gold to apply to my own entrepreneurial ventures.
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on July 22, 2003
"Positioning" is a book written to appeal to the then burgeoning "marketing professional" a job description that I do not believe was well separated from advertising as of yet. Therefore, "positioning" caters to people who are involved in the selling of products and services, but that do not necessarily have any formal training in psychology. Although some of the bases of the theory of perception and memory are inherent in the concept presented as "positioning", the theoretical underpinning are not explored at all, and the authors either do not know about them, or make no effort to demonstrate they do, which in a way undermines the effectiveness of the contents of the book. This happens because, due to the lack of any theoretical basis for the concepts the authors claim to be effective, the book becomes a series of anecdotes that have not withheld the passing of time very well. This would not matter if there was some theoretical backing for the arguments presented, but leaving the whole support of the ideas to anecdotes from "successful" companies that have (in most cases unconsciously) applied the concept of positioning makes the book very weak after 20 years.
"Positioning" also falls for the logical trap of presenting all ideas as directives, and then copping out by establishing that, if it doesn't work, it must be the marketing practitioner's fault. The last chapter mentions that "To be successful at positioning, you have to have the right mental attitude... This requires patience, courage, and strength of character". Therefore, if the "positioning" strategy fails, it is your fault, not the concepts. Also, the examples that are not success stories are presented ambiguously enough to leave unclear whether the "directions" should be followed or not, but there are enough straightforward instructions to make you feel like the concept is foolproof, and that any failures in applying the techniques marked as "winners" are through the marketing manager's fault, not that the concept might be incomplete. The book is not without merit, since it does approach the subject quite clearly and concisely, and does give an approximation to a concept that is well known and well researched by now.
It is a shame that an interesting subject and an interesting topic is presented in such an unrewarding and unchallenging manner.
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on June 26, 2004
The twentieth anniversary edition of "Positioning" is uniquely updated without disrupting the original edition. Ries and Trout provide commentary in the margins, rather than rewriting passages in the book.
And in those margins, they can sometimes be brutally honest, as they occasionally admit to being wrong on some of their theories. But what you will note as you read this book is that the theories they advanced 20 years ago have largely proved out in the interim. This is a seminal work, a book that should be read by anyone involved in any form of marketing.
The current hot trend in marketing-- "branding"-- is in many ways an outgrowth of the theories put forth on "Positioning." Essentially you distinguish your product or service from the competition. The ideal means of doing this is to be first to the market with your product or service, although that is no guarantee of continuous success. This may also mean finding an untapped niche, particularly in crowded categories.
Particularly interesting I their discussion of line extension, and how it dilutes, rather than strengthens, a company's position in the marketplace. And it is interesting to read how some companies at one time literally owned a particular product category, only to lose it when they tinkered with their concept too much.
Education, entertaining, and enlightening, this book is an important addition to anyone interested in marketing library.
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on August 28, 2002
I didn't want this book to end, because the authors have managed to combine humor, with an "in-your-face" reality about getting into the prospect's mind.
They suggest we set both the "four P's" (product, price, place, and promotion) paradigm and the idea of being creative aside, until we have researched and know what segment we can serve on a superior level - the we must know where the competition is, and where the hole is in their attributes.
This truly had me thinking about many things. Being a fairly new business, I had to overcome the idea that my business name really does not say what prospects will recognize as what I'm doing --- it was hard to see that the name, which I had chosen represented more about where I have evolved, and less about what I was in business to serve.
And once I accepted this, I was free to start asking people what they think of the new name that I have come up with. I also objectively listened, while I allowed myself time to come up with what really is 5 syllables or less; something that communicates to my prospects the benefits that I provide.
I kept asking myself what is in the minds of my prospects. And I saw more than I saw before. Which has netted me, a profit in my business bottom line, today.
Another point that surprised me was that Ford is not doing as well as I assumed it is doing. And my assumption was based upon the fact that of all automotive makers that exist, I have only read about the history of Ford. I haven't read about General Motors. Which I am sure that once I do read about GM, I will say, "Wow!"
A downside that this book has, as in many that I have read is that when it speaks of service, it's not talking about selling writing, speeches or consulting. So the reader must ask herself how the wonderful lessons could apply.
Yet, I truly recommend that everyone, 18 and over buy this book, because this book provides tools in convincing the right people to choose what you are offering, on terms that are mutually beneficial.
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on August 20, 2002
A classic in marketing how-tos, the authors explain the importance of offering something for sale that appeals to the buyer, not to the seller, creator, or manufacturer. The product is positioned relative to the consumer, and her needs and viewpoints of value. The basic theory is that you get into the mind of your consumer, and position your product accordingly. And on that point, almost anyone would have to agree.
You will not find the gory details in this book that you'll need to execute a marketing plan, though, but the general theme is examined, as well as various positioning examples (everything from Kleenex to Heinz Ketchup - or was that pickles?).
I was particularly disappointed about a lack of methodology to reach a positioning statement, other than some fairly broad "rules", lightly applied throughout the book. There were six questions at the end that were helpful, but did not constitute a rigorous method - well, any method really - to create a "position". If anything, I would have wished for the method that could be used to create positioning for a product, or to test a company's current positioning, rather than have as many examples of positioning failures.
Some of the author's examples seemed contradictory, and especially when the authors claimed that brand extension amounts to a virtual see-saw - one product steals the brand identity from another (Heinz Ketchup vs. Heinz Pickles - who is Heinz!?). From hindsight, it can be seen that some brand extensions have been extremely successful, while others aren't. It should shock no one that people don't want to use baking soda as anti-perspirant, for instance, and therefore completely explaining why we use Arm & Hammer to cook and deodorize the refrigerator, but do not think of it as a personal hygiene brand. I can't think of anything that I would remove from the refrigerator and rub under my arms.
In any case, this remains a quick, good read with short chapters. The examples illustrate the concepts, but you'll need to follow this up with other positioning and marketing examples in order to position your product within your industry.
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on January 17, 2002
First things first... Before I joined in my MBA course in Aug-2000, I happened to see this book with my brother who stays in US now. I just could read two chapters( the first chapter and the one on "positioning yourself" and career)...Eventhough for a 17 year old guy (then) I could understand what these two authors wanted to convey. More than a marketing or brand positioning book, I would say this is a commonsense book...If you start the first page, you won't feel like leaving till the last page. SATISFACTION GUARANTEED !
This book can be a classic for those people who work in the areas of Marketing, Strategic Advertising Management, Brand Managers, and for every customer on this earth. Because this book talks about you and me who are drowned in a sea of brands, where our mind and body(count how many brands you are WEARING now !) is covered by numerous brands.Then coming to the content part, the books covers various issues on brand, their launch in the customer's mind and how companies win the mind share of him. But most of the statistics given may be wrong at the present times, still qualitatively the fact remains the same. Communication is the biggest problem that we face every second in our life.
And the chapter on positioning yourself (career) is like a bible for every aspiring MBA student. The six factors for successful sale of yourself, 1.Company 2.Your Boss 3.Friend 4.Idea 5.Faith and and the beautiful way of describing each factor is nice. What more can I say abot this book. Read it...
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on August 20, 2001
Technology changes constantly; people, and the way the mind works remain pretty much the same. This book is every bit as valuable in the "New Economy" hoopla, as it was before the net exploded onto the scene, maybe more so. As the amount of advertising explodes in every media outlet, (s)he without a positioning strategy is increasingly lost in the crowd.
Positioning is simply cutting through the immense amount of "noise" in the advertising and marketing world with a clear, concise, SIMPLE, message that occupies a place in the mind of the consumer. Positioning requires a focus; the brand, company or person who tries to stand for, and cover everything ends up representing nothing.
Examples abound in "Positioning" of companies that have utilized positioning to attain and maintain leadership and business success, as well as multimillion-dollar write-offs caused by brand dilution.
Within the book, you'll find chapters on choosing (brand) names, the decision to extend a brand or to not, repositioning other products to carve out your own niche, and how this applies to your company, its' products and even your career.
You can't afford not to buy this book!
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on July 6, 2001
Yes, this is the renowned marketing classic, revered for bringing to light the now ubiquitous strategy of positioning. If you're in business, you probably have at least a fuzzy notion of what the term means. If you're in marketing, you probably hear the word used at least five times a day. (Seriously, try counting.) But in terms of defining positioning and explaining how to use it as a foundation for your strategy, nobody has done a better job than Al Ries and Jack Trout in this original. Of course, the book does have a slightly historical flavor to it now, since the most contemporary business examples cited arrive from the 1970s and 1980s. While a lot has changed since then, a lot hasn't. You'll be surprised how similar this book sounds to the marketing missives of 2001, despite the fact that it was written before the arrival of the Internet, globalization and other buzzwords du jour. We [...] recommend that any executive charged with product development or general business strategy join those in marketing, advertising and sales by taking a few hours to read this book, and get back to the basics.
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on February 24, 2006
This is the first book I read when I began my position as a Junior Writer with a Marketing Consulting firm. I was overwhelmed by all that I was learning on-the-job, though I loved having been thrown into the thick of challenging work. This book was an excellent starting point for me. It demystified a lot of the concepts that I was juggling around at the start, and gave me something to relate to.
I appreciate how Positioning deals with keeping concepts simple, both in the book and through its principles. That is, marketing is about giving consumers something clear, simple and relatable that is strictly yours, not necessarily about dazzling them every time. I have gone back to the teachings of Positioning every time I start to write something and find my work full of jargon that means nothing. It has proven to be a useful tool, and I suspect it will for a long time to come.
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on April 30, 2011
When I first read "Positioning," it was a new book in the early 1980s. It was then, and remains today the single most readable book that explains why people, buyers, voters and opinion makers form the opinions they do. It is witty, readable and broken into digestable chunks. Thirty years on, it needs a refresh. Badly. Unless you are past the age of 40 or 45, and preferably looking backwards at 50, the examples are (though valid) painfully dated. For many readers, they are scantly relevant for a full generation who have not lived through that period of the 1960s and 1970s in marketing and advertising. But it remains nonetheless a classic, and its principles remain as applicable today as when Ries and Trout wrote them. No serious marketing professional should embark upon a career without knowing what's between the covers in "Positioning."
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