Classic Marketing Book Worth a Look: Positioning, by Al Ries and Jack Trout
February 2, 2017
Marketing is a fast-paced industry. Just when we get used to Instagram marketing, Snapchat starts burning up the charts. We finally get video production down, and now it’s live video, 360 video, and augmented reality.
With innovation coming at such a breakneck pace, how could a 30-year-old marketing book hope to be relevant to marketers today?
To answer that question, tell me if this quote resonates:
Today, communication itself is the problem. We have become the world’s first overcommunicated society. Each year, we send more and receive less.
That quote could be from the keynote at any marketing conference this year. But it’s from Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote it in 1981.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post called 12 Marketing Books Everyone Pretends to Have Read. Positioning took the number one slot. Here’s what I said in that article:
It’s debatable whether anybody has ever written a more important book about the fundamentals of marketing since. If you ever want to remind yourself what we marketers do and why we do it, it’s worth immersing yourself in this original, influential and ever-relevant piece of thinking.
I stand by that statement. This is the rare marketing book that only gets more relevant as society advances. It’s about how brands build an image in the customer’s mind—psychology, not technology—and that kind of advice never goes out of style.
Take a Look: Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Ries and Trout have over 80 years of marketing experience between them. Ries is the founder of consulting firm Ries & Ries. He has written or co-written eleven best-selling marketing books. Ries & Ries have served global clients like Apple, Xerox, and Frito-Lay.
Trout is founder and president of Trout and Partners, an international marketing strategy firm serving clients like AT&T and Papa John’s Pizza. He has written or co-written thirteen marketing and business books.
Why Ries and Trout Wrote Positioning
Positioning proposes a new approach to marketing: creating a “position” in a customer’s mind that reflects your company’s strengths and weaknesses, comparative to your competitors. This concept speaks directly to modern marketing, wherein brand is just as important as, if not more important, than your product. As Ries and Trout put it:
A product is something made in a factory. A brand is something made in the mind. To be successful today, you have to build brands, not products.
Positioning proposes that a big part of branding is positioning your brand in the marketplace, finding the niche in which it can excel and building the brand from there.
Ries and Trout believe that positioning is one of the few ways left to really reach and influence consumers. And, like I said, time has proved them right.
Why Marketers Should Read It
Positioning is vital both for training marketing fundamentals and planning 21st-century strategy. If you want to build your marketing on a firm foundation, start with the principals in this book.
You can expect to learn:
- How to strategically leverage your competitor’s weaknesses
- How to best use your present position
- How to make a brand a household name
- How to create a position that your competitors can’t piggyback on
Back in 1981, Ries & Trout knew that the future of marketing was about ideas, not just products. Now, brands have more channels than ever before to take their ideas to the public. Positioning can help you make the best use of the increased opportunity.
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