For a long time and particularly for non-consumer marketers, “positioning” was an obscure word which did not clearly and instantly convey its meaning, i.e. to identify the benefits of what your product or company offers viz a viz its competition. Today, the word is simply part of the marketing lexicon and is generally understood, either as defined above or similarly. However, how many businesses really capitalize on it? How can one mine all its value?

One answer is to “tangibilize” it and to market the tangible. For example, when I was running an independent advertising agency in Boston, we struggled with differentiating ourselves from our competition which included the local branches of big NY agencies: BBDO, McCann Erickson and others. Almost all of the agencies were proclaiming their outstanding creative product, or their full service capabilities or some other largely generic benefit of any agency. We finally decided to market our attitude, which we captured in the phrase: WHY NOT. This set of words emanated from my frequently responding to seemingly offbeat suggestions by saying, “Why Not? Let’s explore it and see if we can make it work.”

Once we had this way of positioning ourselves, we tangibilized it by painting the words on bricks in the form of a statement instead of a question: WHY NOT. using a period, not a question mark. Then we put a brick on each staffer’s desk, held an agency meeting to explain its meaning and our plans to market it and to get general buy in. It resonated and took hold in a very positive way. Then we took it to each of our clients and discussed the positive attitude it reflected and the challenge we gave ourselves on their behalf to come up with new solutions to their issues. They loved the idea and responded enthusiastically; it helped cement relationships in a meaningful way. Finally, I had my picture taken for the papers giving a brick to Boston’s Mayor. This helped spread the word to the area’s business leaders, especially when followed up by agency mailings. All in all it was a home run which worked at several levels for each of our audiences.

The key to the success of this positioning in the marketplace was our communications of it to each of our audiences. The use of a brick was unique: a strong building block to carry our message. And, using an attitude to distinguish us was also different. But a consistent communications program to all concerned was what made it ours.

I hope this example will encourage you to seek a unique positioning and make it work harder for you!


About Wilder Baker

Retired advertising agency CEO now active as management consultant with focus on marketing and marketing communications. Work with small companies and business owners to develop their business over the long term. My relationship with clients often evolves into that of trusted personal, as well as business, adviser. I also take short term projects as I can be helpful. I serve on the Board of the American Advertising Federation where I am a past Chairman and am a Trustee of the Hyde Leadership Charter School in New York City.
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  1. You are a very wise man Wilder!

  2. Chris says:

    A great, succinct, posting on a very relevant topic.

  3. 2dotohguy says:

    Great post. Positioning is truly at the core of long term growth.

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