Sometime ago I read a very informative book called Positioning:The Battle for your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout

http://www.amazon.com/Positioning-Battle-Your-Al-Ries/dp/0446347949

It recently came to mind again when an artist who approached me for help and said he had been told he was the next Coltrane and then actually wrote that himself in his own bio!

Two things struck me.

1) The pretentiousness of the remark of the idea there could ever be another Coltrane?

2) What lousy uncreative positioning!

The book  based around various ad Campaigns from the 70’s & early 80’s one of which was by Avis, the rental car company and this amongst others is given as classic example of successful positioning and hence marketing of ones company,product or service.

At the time Hertz were the big guys,the NUMBER ONE,the most successful Rental Car Company with the largest share of  the marketplace and they still maybe incidentally I don’t know.

Their ads had O.J. Simpson ,then GOOD positioning,running through airports to get his car ,the older amongst us may remember them.

Avis were NUMBER TWO in the pecking order with a much lower market share when they came up with a one liner brilliant ad campaign.

AVIS….. WE ARE NUMBER TWO BUT WE TRY HARDER!!

Consumers responded to the ad as they were able to relate Avis to Hertz which was Number One in their minds and customers rented Avis’s cars.

The result was they boomed and took some huge portion of Hertz’s business and it is a brilliant example of the correct use of the technology of “positioning”.

Another was 7 UP who by relating themselves to Coke and Pepsi Cola as “THE UNCOLA” and 7 UP was able t0 establish itself in the consumers mind as a desirable alternative to the established Colas.

The authors actually state its nearly impossible to displace the leader in the market place. Number ones are Number ones for instance look at Xerox and Hoover as the activity itself is named after them even though they are companies who are only leaders or first into the market with their product.

Incidentally we use this technology of positioning all the time whether we realize it or not.

Examples:

He’s like another OJ Simpson!

I’m Smooth Jazz not Straight ahead.

We are a better soap powder than TIDE!

I’m the next John Coltrane!

All of the above examples are to me very weak attempts at positioning and there are many examples in the book of successful positioning techniques.

Plus for me when I see something like this in a bio, especially said by the artist himself ,like “the next Michael Brecker” “better than Chick Corea” “sounds like Miles Davis“….I am immediatly turned off and become suspicious.

Firstly if you are that good there is no need for you to say it as others will and others who are in themselves opinion leaders that people listen to with respect.

Notice that AVIS did not claim to be NUMBER ONE, far from it ,they stated the truth that they were NUMBER TWO BECAUSE THEY WERE!    But they tried HARDER!! ( So they said?)

They did not go against HERTZ (THE NUMBER ONE) as they weren’t that pretentious or more correctly that foolish enough to do that. They were SMARTER than that  BECAUSE  THEY TRY HARDER….QUITE BRILLIANT and it caused an enormous increase in their share of the rental car market and hence profitability.

If some Opinion Leader in your activity like say, George WeinHerbie Hancock or a major respected critic (if they exist) says you are the next Miles Davis then “maybe” it has creditability but ,please,  saying that in your own BIO ?..no way and please don’t do that because to anyone who knows his stuff they are going to laugh….loudly.

Sure it tells whoever reads it some things such as “you own a tin mute” and “you play jazz” but not much else and you just went against the NUMBER ONE which can be fatal to your career believe me.

Its obvious if one just looks at what Coltrane and Miles did and how much they did and for how long they did it … but please give yourselves a chance and don’t go against the NUMBER ONE ‘s go another route get smart like AVIS or the AD MAN who came up with the slogan.

Don’t let your record company do it either as I see it all time.

THE NEXT NORAH JONES.

BETTER SONGWRITERS THAN THE BEATLES

Give me a break!

And one can’t say “NEARLY as good as Coltrane” either that doesn’t work.

How about “Reminds one of early Coltrane or a ‘Sound reminiscent of Miles” both more humble and more truthful!!

GOOD WORKS THAT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES is both humble,truthful and actually works.

And read the book as there’s a lot more to this subject of positioning than I know and the above are just the obvious gaffs.

Yours

The Next Irving Azoff!

P.S.  Its interesting to me as I realized whilst writing this that artists when successful become Number Ones or Leaders in their market place that cannot be displaced. How could there be another Mozart,Beatles,Beyonce,Black Eyed Peas,Phil Collins,Willie Nelson etc they are number ones in a unique and very creative way. It almost defines the successful artist or performer and who they are.

It also makes award shows silly to me and categories like best “New Artist of the year” or “Best Album of the year”become something of a joke and I think it should be the “Top 5 Artists” or “Best 10 CD’s”  much fairer and saner I feel.

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Comments
  1. hi wats your myspace page

  2. […] “We are Number 2 but we try harder” May 2010 2 comments 3 […]

  3. I think one of the best positioning campaigns aside from Avis and 7UP is Carlsberg with their “Probably the best beer in the world” series.
    An artist can definitely use position in this sense, “Not nearly as good as Miles Davis but working on it” would be a fun way to position oneself in a music style.

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