Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Assume the position

Posted on | April 22, 2008 | No Comments

Ford Kanzler posted an insightful comment to the “marketing echo chamber” post.

This problem clearly appears when you hear marketing managers say,”we position ourselves,” or “our position is.” It demonstrates their often inside-out thinking and not what the world necessarily believes about their brand.

We’re all about teaching about “the conversation” in Web 2.0 land. Whether you’re media or a company, you’re not standing on a soap box broadcasting. You’re conversing with your audiences. It’s an important concept, and some companies are smart enough to begin to do very interesting customer-collaboration and product-development programs using Web technology.
This may be a tortured example, but let’s give it a whirl:
MP3 players existed well before the iPod. Engineers told the world that they wanted a different type of portable music–the next-generation WalkMan, only with solid-state storage. Great. But Apple said it’s not about portable music. It’s about fashion. Somewhere, probably, some people inside Apple had enough insight in watching early MP3 devices to understand that the world was positioning them as fashion statements.
They were smart enough to look at the problem differently. But most companies have a technology or a service that’s created for a reason, and applying it for other uses comes hard if the corporate culture is what it is.
But now take seriously the conversation with your customers through social media tools and techniques, and you’ve got what they call in basketball “the sixth man.”
That sixth man can help companies “position” themselves in ways they never could have dreamed. Simple concept, yes. But those are often the most powerful.

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Comments

No Responses to “Assume the position”

  1. Loring Wirbel
    April 22nd, 2008 @ 11:59 am

    But Apple is one of the rare examples of a company that pays more attention to its iconic position among members of its cult-fanbase, than it does about product positioning and competitive ranking. Most companies have only the vaguest notions of what their business plans might really mean to the world at large, and what their customers think of them.

    The title of this post indicates the type of closed-eyes “butts-up” position the vast majority of corporate marketeers are in. Reminds me of being kicked out of high school for wearing a T-shirt of my favorite underground comix hero of the time, Coochy Cootie. Coochy was carrying a strange device labeled “corn-cob remover,” and hollering “Bend Over, America.” Good advice for marketing VPs everywhere.

  2. Lou Covey
    April 22nd, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    First, Loring… wow. And I thought I was avant garde.

    That being said, What I find amazing in most marketeers is the belief that they can define themselves in the market, which is why most company marketing fails. The market ALWAYS defines you, so you have to be listening to what the market is saying and adjust accordingly.

    The market is a conversation. You can ignore it (at your own peril) ore you can participate in it. You can never control it.

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