How are you and your company perceived?
Jack Trout is the co-author with Al Ries of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace (1980), one of the most valuable books on marketing ever published. With Steve Rivkin, Trout has written Repositioning (published by McGraw-Hill in 2009) in which he explains why competition, change, crisis in recent years have challenged companies to rethink their current marketing, refocus their consumer branding, reassess their strengths, reposition their identify, and reclaim (or strengthen) their competitive edge.
Here are Four Rules of Success that Trout provides in Chapter Nine:
1. Find out what position you already have in your public’s mind. Spend a few dollars on research. Or put in your hat and coat and go out and talk to customers and prospects. And don’t forget the most important people of all: the editors of your key publications.
2. Adopt a repositioning strategy that you want to own. Zero in on a specific concept that you want to achieve through public relations and advertising. Make sure this idea is not a general one, like improving your image. And avoid attributes like “dynamic,” “modern,” or “progressive.” These are not about repositioning; they are purely a question of style that public relations can seldom do much about.
[Note: Trout’s comments about a repositioning strategy remind me of a family-owned barbershop whose principal competitor (a chain franchisee) offered a $10 haircut. The family-owned barbershop repositioned itself with the statement “We repair $10 haircuts.”]
3. Convince everyone to concentrate exclusively on this one repositioning approach. This includes your management, your advertising agency [if you have one], and, of course, everyone in your public relations department [or better yet, everyone in your organization who interacts with customers]. Stick to your one basic strategy, and reinforce it with every press and public penetration.
[Note: In response to other airlines who continue to charge and increase the fees for checking bags, Southwest Airlines now wages a new advertising campaign that proclaims “We love bags! Bags fly free!”]
4. From time to time, evaluate your PR efforts [i.e. interaction with customers, prospects, and print media] along with your advertising, merchandising, and overall marketing position. Public relations is simply one of a number of tools that should all be aiming in the same direction. It is self-defeating when PR pulls in one direction and advertising in another.
Remember, readjusting perceptions takes time and patience.
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