Many in the world think positioning is a relatively new idea.
The reason: Unlike concepts such as “excellence,” “quality,” or
“reengineering,” which exploded on the scene, “positioning”
snuck up on the business world.
The first words on the subject go back 25 years, when I
wrote an article in Industrial Marketing magazine entitled
“Positioning is a game people play in today’s me-too market-
The earth didn’t tremble, and the event went unnoticed.
This was followed by more articles and many speeches,
and 15 years ago Al Ries and I wrote the book Positioning: The
Battle for Your Mind.
Because “positioning” ended up leaking into the business
scene, it still seems like a fresh, new concept. Which is why it
was mentioned 16,917 times in U.S. publications last year.
Well, as the one who started it all, I can safely say that the
concept needs updating.
New Information on the Mind
always defined “positioning” not as what you do to the
product, but what you do to the mind.
The ultimate marketing battleground is the mind, and the
better you understand how the mind works, the better you’ll
You’ll notice in certain sections, especially the case histories, that I use the editorial
“we.” That’s because I’m describing work done with my longtime associate Al Ries, or other
partners here and around the world.
understand how positioning works.
This is why we’ve continued to study the mind and how it
takes in, stores, or rejects information. Part 1 of this book will
present much of this new information. We’ll even wheel in a
number of psychologists to offer their views.
Change has become an ever-increasing factor in today’s
high-speed world. It’s also something I never dealt with in my
early work on positioning.
But as the years rolled by, I began to run into two basic
types of companies with problems.
The first type had lost their focus in the mind of the mar-
ketplace. And they had done it to themselves, through things
like line extension or diversification. An example would be
Chevrolet. Once upon a time, this was America’s family car.
Good solid value. Today a Chevrolet is a big, small, cheap,
expensive sports car, sedan, and truck. Chevrolet is no longer
“the heartbeat of America.” Ford is the number-one brand.
Chevy needs to get back to basics.
The other type of change-related problem I noticed was
the market changing underneath a company. To survive, they
had to find a new idea or positioning to carry them forward.
Lotus Development was an example of this, as their spread-
sheet business became a mature business under attack from
the high-tech Godzilla called Microsoft. (I discuss this at
greater length in Chapter 8.)
“Repositioning” is the answer to these types of marketing
problems. That’s why this book will spend a great deal of time
focusing on “repositioning,” and how you go about it. It can be
a very tricky piece of work. Case studies will play an important
part in Part 2.
Much More Has Been Learned
Finally, practice makes perfect. Or if not perfect, at least a lot
In the 25 years since “positioning” first made its debut, I’ve
worked with my partners on hundreds of positioning proj-
ects—from caskets to computers, and just about everything in
This work has taken me all over the world. En route, I’ve
learned some tricks of the trade that weren’t shared in the ear-
lier writings. Part 3 will present some of them, like the power
of sound, the latest on names, the problems of research, and
simply telling it like it is as opposed to being cute about it.
That section alone just may be worth the price of the book.
So read on. The New Positioning contains the final word
on “positioning.” If you don’t get it this time, you’re on your