Al Ries quote on Positioning

This quote on Positioning from Al Ries echoes the sentiments of other quotes from Steve Jobs and Michael Porter on focus.

“The most difficult part of positioning is selecting that one specific concept to hang your hat on. Yet you must, if you want to cut through the prospect’s wall of indifference.”

There are 10 reasons to buy any product. That’s not a quotation, I just made it up. But imagine it’s true. The problem is, only 2 of those reasons matter to the person you’re trying to sell to right now. That’s if you’re lucky. It might only be one. If you push the other 8 reasons the customer doesn’t care about, you hit the wall of indifference Al Ries is talking about.

So how do you know what matters and what doesn’t to your customers? No, you don’t need to be psychic. This is where your marketing strategy pays off:

  • Your research allows you to identify segments in your market, understanding how they work and what they want.
  • Your targeting tells you which segments are appropriate for you to tackle.
  • So your positioning addresses the issues that affect customers in the segment you’re targeting.

An example from my past. We used to sell engine starting systems. They were packaged into an aluminium housing. One of the advantages of this was that it didn’t rust. That’s the foundation of great positioning if we targeted North Sea oil platforms. We could hang our hat on that. But it would be lousy positioning if we targeted oil fields in the Middle East. For that segment, we’d need different positioning and NEVER mention rust-resistance.