What is Your Positioning?
There is a great book that I recommend as many people as I can, called Positioning, The Battle for the Mind, written by Al Ries and Jack Trout. It is tough to get. You may have to get it online. I have only found a handful in book stores. The book was written in the 70s and has not needed to be updated significantly since then.
This book started a different thought process in the world of marketing; taking people from actually promoting their goods as new and improved or bigger and better, instead it started looking at where your product or your brand or your business sits in the minds of the consumer. So your positioning is like a ladder, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, etc.
The argument is once your business is positioned at the top rung in any ladder it is very hard to dislodge. So, once something comes out and becomes the best, it is hard to dislodge that business by being better in that specific category. A great example is our airline industry; Qantas is at the top rung in the ladder in terms of safety and then is in the top rung in the separate ladder in terms of service. So, when Virgin entered the market for it to try and become the safest or the highest service or even the biggest which is another rung Qantas occupies, would have been a very difficult battle. It would take a long time and a lot of money to dislodge that perception from our minds. So, instead Virgin started with two other ladders, one being fun and the other being price or cheap. Overtime, Virgin occupied the top rung of the ladder in fun and Qantas in a countermove created a new ladder in our mind called price and took the top spot with Jetstar.
In the book, there is a great example of a beer company in America which was the first in its competitive industry to explain to people how they make beer. Now, how this company made beer was nothing special. When I say that I mean everyone use the same process but what happened in this advertising campaign is that it was the first time that a beer company had explained to the consumer how they actually make beer as oppose to simply running commercials with young people drinking alcohol in their board shorts and bikinis on the back of pick-up trucks. What this did for the company was in the consumer’s mind they became the quality beer because they had explained the process that no else understood and to the layman it was quite a complex process. The response from the competitors was that “this is how we all make beer” but by this stage it was too late. The consumer had already decided that this company because they explained what they had done or were doing were the expert. They occupied the top rung in the ladder for quality for a number of years and they went from fourth to first in the competitive beer industry.
This is a great example of the earlier blog post around Sharing Your Recipes, do not be reluctant to tell people how you do what you do in great detail because sometimes that is enough to; a) make it clear in the minds of the consumer and; b) give you a competitive positioning against your competitors.