We recently sat down with our colleague Jack Trout for a lively Q&A. Here is the second installment of that give-and-take…
(Q.) Does “Positioning” apply to all fields of endeavor?
(A.) Absolutely. Over the years I’ve worked with the U.S. Government on America’s image. I’ve worked with religion on how to improve their image. As I’ve often said, my work has taken me from computers to caskets and everything in between.
(Q.) Tell me about your work with IBM.
(A.) IBM was positioned as the leader in mainframe computing. But the mainframe was giving way to desk top machines like the PC so they had a need to reposition themselves. Since they had all the pieces of the computer spectrum, I recommended that they move from mainframe to “integrated computing” or computer systems. Their offer was to work with customers to put all the pieces together into systems. A new CEO had just arrived at IBM and he did not want to break up the company so they followed this strategy which, at the time, kept them out of trouble.
(Q.) Airlines are not well “Positioned.” What did you do for Southwest Airlines?
(A.) Southwest Airlines built their position around “Value” by saving people time and money. They did this by not offering food, no assigned seats by eliminating expensive reservation systems and not using hubs. My recommendation was to position themselves as “America’s first point to point airline.” Their proposition was to save time and money by giving people what they don’t need and flying them just to where they want to go. This strategy has made them America’s most successful airline.
(Q.) Does being first make a big difference in “Positioning?”
(A.) Absolutely. I always advise that being first is better than being better. A classic example was a client I had in India that pioneered the first sport motorcycle. Today they have almost half of their sport motorcycle category. Their position is that of “India’s No.1 sport machine.”
More to follow…