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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Positioning, the battle for your mind", a must-read by Al Ries & Jack Trout

Too often do high-tech people focus on the technology only, rather on the customer experience.

Al Ries and Jack Trout, and Philip Kotler who writes a foreword, explain in "Positioning, the battle for your mind" how marketing in general, and branding in particular, helps you build a position in your prospect´s mind.

I enjoyed a lot reading the book. The lessons I will remember are the following:
- position well, wisely. Make sure you target a corner of the prospect´s mind that´s still virgin;
- think outward (ie from the customer´s viewpoint), always look for a niche to occupy before the competition, and give the customer what (s)he wants to listen about my company;
- the message you convey should be your actual strategy; keep your message as long as possible to achieve your strategic goals: don´t change your mind or the customer will change his/hers as well.

Some examples are a bit outdated (the book was written more than 20 years ago!), but still, Al Ries and Jack Trout provide great insights through them: why Xerox always failed to invest business different to the copy machines one (because Xerox MEANS copy in the customer´s mind), why IBM failed to even think about competing with Xerox in the copy-machines business, etc.

In a nutshell, I recommend this thin book to all techies that are willing to brush up their marketing skills in less than a week.

PS: many thanks to my former Marketing Professor at HEC Paris, Frédéric Dalsace, for granting his students with a great strategic marketing reading list. "Positioning, the battle for your mind" was on the list.


  • I want to let the fellow readers of this wonderful blog know that Frederic Dalsace (professor in Marketing at HEC; cited in this post) was so mad at Jeremy, for asking so many questions during the class, that by the middle of the semester Jerem was no longer allowed to say anything during Marketing.

    Way to go Jerem! :)

    By Blogger Jedi, at 7/12/2006 11:39:00 AM  

  • Well Jean-David, I think that exactly the same comment goes for you too));

    Unfortunately (for me), it basically happened in all the courses I took: I was asked to shut my mouth in economics, information systems, strategy, market finance, corporate finance, supply chain management, M&A, etc.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 7/12/2006 11:45:00 AM  

  • I agree with you. It's one of the best Marketing books I read (with The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - Al Ries & Jack Trout). But, for you, what's the better Marketing Book?

    By Blogger Xavier Fisselier, at 7/12/2006 07:19:00 PM  

  • Xavier,

    I´m really not a marketing expert, and I´ve read very few books on the subject. However, I´ll make sure I at least try to answer your question.

    As far as I´m concerned, the book that made me most think about marketing was Emile Zola´s "The Ladies´ Paradise" ("Au Bonheur des Dames") which is all about seducing women..from a Department Store´s viewpoint!

    I highly recommend this master novel to you.

    Many thanks for being interested in my favorite marketing readings.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 7/12/2006 08:26:00 PM  

  • I'm very happy Jeremy because, it's for me too a great book of marketing. I used it in a conference last year. I have to write something in my blog about this master novel.

    By Blogger Xavier Fisselier, at 7/13/2006 09:30:00 AM  

  • Hi Jeremy,
    nice to hear from you on this topic, your blog is now alreadyy in my favs'.
    Here's a excellent article I read this year only, when doing some research about innovation@Apple, and positionning. Throughout the analysis of Apple's strategy & history, some very good points and references are made about the subject. A must-read.

    See you soon , and take care.


    By Anonymous Julien Haguenauer, at 7/14/2006 03:59:00 AM  


    much better WITH the link, isn't it ?


    By Anonymous Julien Haguenauer, at 7/14/2006 04:00:00 AM  

  • Julien, I´ve just finished reading the article. I found it amazing: provocative, brillant, well written, and most of all full of insights inside Apple´s innovation machine.

    For the readers who don´t have time to go over it (however, you ought to!), here´s the last paragraph, which kind of draws a conclusion to the article:

    Sidebar: Getting Innovation Right

    If Apple teaches us anything, it's that effective innovation is about more than building beautiful cool things. A few thoughts for innovating well in your own shop:

    1. Not All Innovation Is Equal

    Technical innovation will earn you lots of adoring fans (think Apple). Business-model innovation will earn you lots of money (think Dell).

    2. Innovate for Cash, Not Cachet

    If your cool new thing doesn't generate enough money to cover costs and make a profit, it isn't innovation. It's art.

    3. Don't Hoard Your Goodies

    Getting to market on time and at the right price is vital. If that means licensing your idea to an outside manufacturer or marketer, do it.

    4. Innovation Doesn't Generate Growth. Management Does

    If you covet awards for creativity, go to Hollywood. Managers get rewarded for results, which come from customers.

    5. Attention Deficit Has No Place Here

    Every innovation worth doing deserves your commitment. Don't leap from one new thing to another. If your creation doesn't appear important to you, it won't be important to anyone else.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 7/14/2006 09:58:00 AM  

  • Julien,

    I forgot something too: many thanks for this wonderful article. I wish to see you becoming a full-time IT Addict! (like Jedi & Kari, the two top & best posters of this blog).

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 7/14/2006 10:18:00 AM  

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