One of the best marketing books I have ever read is “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” by Ries & Trout, published in 1981. Although some of the references used in the book date back to the 1970’s, the main message is still very relevant today. In chapter two, the writers discuss the number of advertising messages and marketing noise American consumers are exposed to each day. A recent study reports 1,518 exposures per day for a family of 4. The report continues by stating different numbers for men and women: 285 for men and 305 for women.

As consumers, we are under assault from every angle with advertising messages. In my case I am very much aware of this, since advertising is how I make a living. So, when I go home from work every night and turn on the TV to watch the news, I also watch the commercials. The same goes for reading billboards, newspaper, magazine ads, the mail, internet banners, signs at stores package labels, you name it and I have probably spent some time evaluating the effectiveness of the message. The problem is, this is getting harder and harder for me to keep up. These days you see advertising everywhere and the question is…is it getting through?

There’s a virtual traffic jam on the mind and there’s only one way to have your message on the speed lane… Be first or Make it simple.

The easiest way to get into the mind of a person is to be first. Just ask yourself a few simple questions. What’s the name of the first person to fly solo across the North Atlantic? Charles Lindbergh. Who was the second? Who was the first person you ever made love with? What’s the name of the second? Get the picture?

So what if you are not first? Is there a way to get through the clutter? Yes, Ries & Trout called the “against” position and Avis did it years ago with the “We’re No2 so we Try Harder” campaign. The Avis campaign has gone down in history as a classic example of establishing the “against” position. By admitting and taking a number 2 position in rent-a-cars, they started to make money. They recognized the position of Hertz and didn’t try to attack them head-on.

Another classic positioning strategy is to create your own category as 7-Up did by claiming the “Uncola” position. However they experienced a problem when they changed their campaign to “America’s going 7-up.” This campaign was les effective because it wasn’t believable.

At OutOfTheBlue, we are strong supporters of keeping messages simple, to the point and find the best positioning strategy to deal with the competition. We always look for something our clients can be first in and once we determine what that is we make sure to get the word out.

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