REFOCUS ON POSITIONING

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Now that "positioning" is 25 years old, Jack Trout and Al Ries, world-famed progenitors of this game plan for marketing strategists, are repositioning it.

For the foreseeable future, presumably, these well-known consultants will be focused on "refocusing," wherein marketers will systematically examine their graying positioning statements for signs of wear and tear. Then they will make all necessary changes and adapt to new circumstances in order to survive.

Whether one regards Trout and Ries as two glib, opportunistic and bright self-promoters ("inventing positioning is a bit like inventing sex," says Laurel Cutler of Foote, Cone & Belding) or geniuses who understand better than most how the marketing process works, the fact is that over the years their ideas have been worthy of serious consideration.

They often make good sense and see the brand battles clearly. They can be provocative and blunt, and obviously many big-time clients swear by their counsel. So now they're pitching a different wrinkle with refocusing. And they'll be coming up with rules and regulations for all who need to refocus their products and their services.

Frankly, we find it hard to understand why, after all positioning has done for them and their clients, they would drop it-as a name, a brand, a unique selling proposition. Isn't refocusing what goes on when marketers set out to develop a positioning paper?

But this is probably not the time to be a party pooper. Better simply to say: Happy silver anniversary, Trout & Ries & Positioning.

And Happy Official Birthday to refocusing. But, sensing it may not last much longer than another recent buzzword, re-engineering, we predict that marketers haven't heard the last of positioning.

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