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Fast communicating is most easily done by comparisons.  When one asks, “What is the book like?” he really is not trying to get you to describe the book. He means that he wants some comparison.  He will be happiest wit the answer if he is told that it is like another book with which he is familiar.

It would take you a lot longer and involve a lot more arguments if you just tried to describe the book to him instead of comparing.

"What does it taste like?" is satisfactorily answered, "Like candy".  That, if it has some shadow of truth and accuracy, is a perfectly satisfactory answer to the other person.

Thus, we get a basic observation here:...

The unfamiliar is rapidly introduced or communicated by comparing it to a familiar.

Positioning takes advantage of a fact that one can compare the thing he is trying to get the other person to understand with desirable or undesirable objects.  Desirable objects are now more commonly used in marketing whereas undesirable objects are commonly used in propaganda.  By comparing this unfamiliar thing – your product or service to another desirable thing familiar thing you get a rapid communication and comparison.

The directions of positioning are:

  • Above
  • With
  • Below
  • At
  • To
  • Against
  • Away

A common use of positioning in advertising is to take a product which, by reason of advertising, is familiar to the public and is regarded by them as the leader in the field and then positioning a new untried, unfamiliar product above it, with it, or just below it.  Thus the new product gains a sudden spurt in sales by being compared to the leader.  Tread lightly though otherwise you’ll infringe on the other companies copyright or trademarks.  Make sure your positioning isn't derogatory towards the other companies product (positioning away or against).

To assist you in with your product and company positioning here are 6 short tips:

  1. What position, if any, do we already own in the prospects mind?
    Get the answer from the marketplace, not the marketing manager.  If this requires a few dollars for research, so be it.  Spend the money.  It’s better to know exactly what you’re up against now than to discover it later when nothing can be done about it
  2. What position do we want to own?
    Here is where you bring out your crystal ball and try to figure out the best position to own from a long term point of view.
  3. What companies must be outgunned if we are to establish that position?
    If your proposed position calls for a head-to-head approach against a marketing leader, forget it.  It’s better to go around an obstacle rather than over it.  Back up.  Try to select a position that no one else has a firm grip on.
  4. Do we have enough marketing money to occupy and hold the position?
    A big obstacle to successful positioning is attempting to achieve the impossible.  It takes money to build a share of mind.  It takes money to establish a position.  It takes money to hold a position once you've established it.  The noise level today is just too fierce.  There are just too many “me-too” products and too many “me-too” companies vying for the mind of the prospect.  Getting noticed is getting tougher.
  5. Do we have the guts to stick with one consistent positioning concept?
    With the noise level out there, a company has to be bold enough and consistent enough to cut through.  The first step in a positioning program normally entails running fewer programs, but stronger ones.  This sound simple, but actually runs counter to what usually happens as corporations get larger.  Its this fragmentation that can make many large advertising budgets just about invisible in today’s media storm.
  6. Does our creative approach match our positioning strategy?
    Create people often resist positioning thinking because they believe it restricts their creativity.  And it does.  But creativity isn't the objective.  Even communication isn't the objective.  

The name of the game is positioning, and the better players will be the ones that survive


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