The death of positioning

by KingOfContentMarketing 12 replies
Has positioning as a marketing and advertising concept run it's course?

"There are two enormous problems with the whole concept today. One, mass marketing is increasingly problematic, for mass audiences are a dying breed. Oh, there are still events like the Superbowl and the Academy Awards that draw big audiences for advertisers, but now, even popular “second screen” activities get in the way by giving viewers something new to do during commercial breaks. Positioning just doesn’t do as well in a fragmented environment or in a network. Everybody functions as a media company in the network, so any “position” can be spread virally, especially if the product or service being positioned doesn’t work as advertised.

Two, it’s hard to “position” somebody when they’re hip to being positioned (and don’t like it). Ries and Trout’s “The Battle for Your Mind” doesn’t ask for approval to wage war in such a private place, and this is its most challenging aspect, especially in a world where people can do something about it. The idea of waging war in our minds was advanced in Ries and Trout’s second book, aptly named “Marketing Warfare.” The rude assumption that enough money buys a ticket to play war in the battlefield of the mind is revealed for what it is, a self-centered effort at human manipulation.""

Read more here and make your own call.
Advertising Disrupted - Terry Heaton's PoMo Blog
#copywriting #death #positioning
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  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    Positioning for the small business is still very much alive and kicking.
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    I agree with Moriarty. Strong positioning is critical in a crowded local market.

    I think Terry errs in seeing the web and social media as a, "world of equal nodes on a vast network."

    All nodes may be equally accessible, but they don't carry equal authority. Some are extremely influential, but most not at all. Nearly every network has far more listeners/viewers than speakers. Nodes have positions too and Pareto has not been repealed. So even marketing on a network is more one-to-many than one-to-one.

    Positioning isn't going away. Positions have always existed and always will. They are cognitive shortcuts. Every position is relative to other positions for a category and they help consumers navigate.

    Yes, advertisers need to knock it off with trickery and deception. It's just wrong, plus people scream when they get burned. But that is no argument against truthful positioning.

    Is he really saying this is becoming a world where if you build a better mousetrap, the equal nodes will beat a path to your door? I don't think you can count on that and still hope to pay your mortgage.
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  • Profile picture of the author J. Barry Mandel
    More word play.

    Great clever post Joe, but it's putting words in peoples mouths...starting with the title!

    Positioning will never be replaced because the playing field will ALWAYS be uneven given all of the variables.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Ceskavich
    Can you stop the tides from coming in because we know they're happening... and we're tired of them?

    Human nature is just as much as force of nature as tidal nature. And positioning is something we do with amassed objects: We sort them according to hierarchy.

    Humans will always want to conquer old ideas in the name of new thought, new science and new ideas. But the truth is nature is nature. And it's never gonna change.
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  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty
    And positioning is something we do with amassed objects: We sort them according to hierarchy.
    I strongly disagree. Okay, you might think this is what positioning is, I don't. So tell me what all these amassed objects are? On what basis have you rated them as better or worse?

    Because to me positioning is all about the reality of your situation. As a business, as a person. There are things you do well, and things you don't. Realize that, communicate it effectively - and you have a position. It has little to do with hierarchy. It has all to do with individuality. Hierarchy implies you are better (or worse) - individuality implies you are you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Ceskavich
    Hey Moriaty,

    It's OK to disagree. I suggest you read the book again, though. One of the main points was that positioning exists in the mind of your prospect. Not in your mind, as a business owner. (The Ford Edsel comes to mind.)

    And the prospect naturally sorts related objects. It's just what we use our mind for. It's why we store phone numbers in 7 digit blocks of information - because we can only hold 7 blocks in our conscious awareness at once. The rest are pushed to our sub or super conscious.

    The same with product categories: If we know three car rental companies, for example. We need to know which one we would like to select. So we sort them. This way, we're sure we made the best selection.

    Positioning is what you do with your prospect's rules for your category. For example: Let's say your prospect wants fast weight loss. A correct position to take would be a company who gives you fast weight loss. An incorrect position would be a company who features a celebrity trainer. (Unless your market associated celebrity trainers with fit people... and then you paired it with a quick weight loss claim.)

    I'm not trying to argue the point against you - I completely see what you're saying. And it makes sense in a crowded sphere like the internet. To stand out, you must be an individual.

    I simply want to add something else: To stand out, you must be an individual with a clear quality the market is actively looking for.

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  • Profile picture of the author DavidG
    I've always considered positioning (or branding) like a ladder.

    Where if I say "soda" which ever brand comes into your head first, is #1. Then the second soda you'd think about would be #2...etc

    And that's not to say all of sodas in the world are in one ladder...

    I mean, if I say "lemonade" or "fruit punch" - what first comes to mind?

    I think that's how branding works...

    And the way I see it... MANY are trying to compete against each other for the prospects first thought, instead of creating a separate ladder for themselves.

    Create your own ladder in your prospects head. Like "Mike Diamond - The SMELL Good Plumber" or "5 Hour Energy" (VS All other Energy Drinks).

    I think that kind of positioning (or branding) is rare. No one tries to break themselves apart.

    And if you sorta understand what I'm referring to - then don't be a little nazie. Branding, positioning, USP - w.e - just separate yourself and you'll win. It's all semantics.

    P.S. - Credit goes to Clayton on this perspective. It's helped me clear the clutter and how to approach businesses.
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  • Profile picture of the author Moriarty

    no problems. I like a good verbal scrap! So thanks for wading in.

    Firstly, I am puzzled. To me Branding and Positioning are antithetical. That is to say - Branding in the hands of big business at least is all about imposing an image. Positioning is about standing out in the crowd by doing exactly what you did yesterday. One of my problems is that my words were not met with the robust response I got from you. I got whinges about how I was wrong and completely wrong and utterly wrong. Without one word of clarification. In short, your mention of the Ford Edsel is to me the epitome of branding: someone thought it was a good idea. Nobody else did.

    In short, we are arguing about words, not facts. I prefer the latter but need words to express them.

    because we can only hold 7 blocks in our conscious awareness at once
    Can you elucidate on this? What constitues a "block"? Because I held it to be eight - but we could be talking about two entirely different things. To cut through the crap, my basic tenet is that the imagination, memory and just about anything else we do all winds up as imagery* inside our head. Sure, you feel your feet, you are still conscious that they are "down there" because you aren't aware in your feet in the way you are in your head. The only time we are really overcome by our awareness of our feet is when we tread on a nail. That's when it becomes overwhelming. (*if your imaginative faculties are well enough developed they will include the other senses too, not just imagery).

    My interests are not so much that a customer has a choice. Most customers want something they already want, all they want to do is find it. Usually that means some kind of trade-off. In our day and age it is increasingly about price - the least useful metric ever invented**. (**Unless of course the error is in the favor of your bank account).

    What a business needs to do is position themselves so that their services are tailored to the needs of the customer that best fits what they have to offer. This is the essence of Rosser Reeve's USP, as you will well know.

    Let's say your prospect wants fast weight loss. A correct position to take would be a company who gives you fast weight loss. An incorrect position would be a company who features a celebrity trainer.
    There will be customers who only think they want to lose weight so that they can be seen along side the celebrity (or even simply imagine they are near that celebrity). It's not incorrect, it's abusive of a weakness. Quite different from being incorrect - again semantics. You wanna do semantics, you got your gal. My cousin's on the editorial staff of the OED. If that person genuinely wanted to lose weight fast (and not imagine they wanted to because of a celebrity) the best way to winnow out the wrong ones is to tell your visitors something that you don't do. In this case you state "we don't have pinups of celebrities here, we have people who lose weight fast" - those people who are easily taken in by celebrity culture won't be pleased with this. Those who want to lose weight aren't worried as it is the result they want, not the kudos.

    Enough from me. What do you think?
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    Directly opposed or contrasted; mutually incompatible.
    Connected with, containing, or using the rhetorical device of antithesis.

    One of the pillars of branding in my mind IS consistency, that is to say, doing the same thing you did yesterday. I don't understand how an image and consistency are antithetical.

    "Imposing an image" is an interesting choice of words. The picture you paint seems to be one of so-called brands trying to convince customers of what they think they are or what they want to be. My concept of branding means standing out by highlighting your natural strengths and unique features - living and breathing your business and its uniqueness, as it were. One of my favorite brands used to be RedHeadWriting - she's since rebranded but keeps the "Head Redhead" persona.

    Now, not every company has a good brand or can have a good brand. Not every business or company has unique selling features though - some are purely volume-based or what have you. So no, a brand is not fit for everyone. Maybe that's where your perspective on branding comes from, those people who insist that branding is the only way to survive?

    For women ONLY...start getting what you want, when you want it. Join the Club.

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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Pescetti
    Positioning - both in terms of where you put your marketing (to get it in front of the right eyes) and how you brand your company will always be relevant.

    Most companies are quite frankly sloppy at it and come from the entirely wrong perspective (especially with most IMer's.)

    That's where the over-saturation comes from and why prospects flee en-masse.


    Brilliant, emotionally-driven, benefits-based branding and proper traffic driving - for large and small businesses/companies/corporations - will endure no. matter. what!

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  • Profile picture of the author Dyson Clay
    WITHOUT being aware of positioning you basically end up copying other Let's say I want to be a copywriter and I LEARN from John Carlton...

    Well then his advice will make me end up being John Carlton...with position of "being the most ripped off copywriter alive"...Well HE already is the most ripped off copywriter (so he claims) so I can't ALSO claim the same thing. If I DO; then everyone will compare me with John Carlton...and since he was FIRST and more congruent with that than me; I will lose.

    But if I would position myself as "THE cardealership Copywriter of the Great SF Bay Area" and I will actually have a congruent looking marketing funnel...I will keep taking on that position more & more as time goes on...getting more & more cardealership clients in the SF Bay Area...

    You can never say it's "dead" can only say that a shitload of copywriters seem to be pretending it's dead...or simply not taking the time or effort to position themselves and rather just copy the great copywriters by only focussing on their copywriting skills...and positioning themselves basically THE SAME as other ALREADY positioned copywriters...

    ...which only shows they don't really get it.
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    • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
      Suits me just fine if the masses think they cannot make themselves
      or their clients the only choice in the ideal prospects mind.

      They are a sitting duck to be steam rolled.
      I'm lovin' it!


      P.S. The masses are natural followers, therefore
      are susceptible to a marketers authoritative message.
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