By Ed Shane
There’s no more
compelling concept for radio than “positioning”—the battle for a place
in the mind. Al Ries and Jack Trout introduced us to the idea in their
classic book, Positioning.
re-reading Ries and Trout’s Bottom Up Marketing, because I like a
refresher course in the concepts that I believe in most strongly. In
that book (published in 1989) they took positioning a few step further,
urging marketers to “go down to the front line” to get information.
Mind you, they’re
not talking about getting “confirmation,” as we so often do in radio,
but to get real insight on how people use products and services.
The “front” is not
the supermarket, the drugstore, or the customer’s office. “The front
line is the mind of the prospect,” say Ries and Trout.
They urge our
review of the front to be used to create tactics that drive our
first, then strategy. Most marketing people believe the reverse.
“A tactic is an
idea,” say Ries and Trout. “We propose using the following specific
definition: A tactic is a competitive mental angle. In our definition,
a strategy is not a goal. It’s a coherent marketing direction.”
That brings me
back to radio. What industry is more tactical in its product than
In the words of
Ries and Trout: “A tactic must have a competitive [their
emphasis] angle in order to have a chance of success. This does not
necessarily mean a better product or service, but rather there must be
an element of differentness. It could be smaller, bigger, lighter,
heavier, cheaper more expensive. It could be a different distribution
Different is the
key word. Something that positions the product – your station – in the
mind of the listener.
Here’s the Ries
and Trout refresher course in two sentences: “A tactic is a competitive
advantage. A strategy is designed to maintain that competitive