An Interview With Jack Trout

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We recently had a chance to sit down with Jack Trout to talk to him about his seminal work on marketing – called positioning strategy.  Here is the first installment in that lively Q&A.

(Q.) When and why did you first write about “Positioning?”

(A.) “Positioning” was born in a time when the world seemed like a tea party. There was no real global competition. It was 1969 and I wrote the first article on the subject in an obscure corner of the business world. I wrote it because the first competitive rumblings were beginning to be seen in what I described as a “Me too” marketplace.

(Q.) Why has “Positioning” continued to grow in importance?

(A.) While words quickly come and go in today’s world, “Positioning” just seems to gain in usage and importance. The simple reason is that the level of competition in all fields of endeavor continues to grow.  Everyone is after everyone’s business or whatever and if you lose it, you never get it back. Here’s an untold secret, I chose the word “positioning” because of the dictionary definition of strategy: The science of planning and directing large scale military operations. Of maneuvering forces into the most advantageous position prior to engagement with the enemy. If it is all about coping with increased competition, “positioning” is the perfect word for developing strategy in today’s competitive world.

(Q.) Why is “Strategy” of critical importance?

(A.) What I’ve learned over and over again is that success isn’t about having the right people, the right attitude, the right tools, the right role models, or the right organization. They all help, but they don’t put you over the top. It’s all about having the right strategy.

That’s because strategy sets the competitive direction, strategy dictates product planning, strategy tells you how to communicate internally and externally, strategy tells you on what to focus. And that is what “positioning” is all about.

More to follow…