Positioning – By @dinglebobs

By Ben Conway



Positioning was the first out of the list that I have read (discounting memory) and taking it into real life application there is a possibility next week Friday, I am going to be participating in a drag celebrity impersonation competition. How does this have relevance to the book, I hear no one ask? The maniacal connection follows.


“The essence of position is sacrifice. You must be willing to give up something in order to establish that unique position”.


So my two options are Gemma Collins or Pixie McKenna.


Unless you are the prospect that detests all reality TV, the show TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex) has garnered national acclaim in its ability to make you feel better about yourself. The fake and frankly awkward to watch story lines, from the out of London borough, argue about being fat, a slag or the next relationship breakup; the personality of Gemma Collins was birthed onto our screens.


She has established a position for herself that is relatable to the throwaway drama society of makeup, dropping words and twitter banter. I see tweets of her in different scenarios getting 30,000+ favourites because she is funny to make fun of. Gemma Collins KNOWS her position, and she has been playing it fantastically throughout her career. Even if she fell into it by accident.


On the other hand, have you even remembered who Pixie McKenna is yet? I’m going for no – mainly because she has dropped in relevance in recent years. Pixie compared to Gemma is the Belgium chapter versus Amsterdam, or IBM copiers against Xerox – she isn’t cemented in the mind of the prospect. She doesn’t come first.


To remind you all, Pixie McKenna was the Irish doctor on Embarrassing Bodies, her career from what we remember was looking at the grossly ill and the success of that show was on the shock factor in visuals each week. She is the upper hand. I am giving up the easy to do (extenuating E sound) and easy to take the piss out of, E-ssex girl because she is expected.


Looking back on all of that – it doesn’t entirely capture the book, because it’s better to build on a new name when branching from a well-known position – for example I could do “Im A Celebrity” Gemma Collins or “Big Brother” Gemma Collins. It would be a knack of just repositioning her regularly known character to a more specific one. And most importantly, I’m trying to understand that it is ALL for the audience. The gays love a reality TV personality, and they know her.


Two chapters that stuck out in this internal crisis I am going through are “The No-Name Trap” and “The Free Ride Trap”. No matter how established you are – you aren’t. Theresa May ‘inherited’ her original place as prime minister, she took a free ride and the prospect being the UK population showed their distaste, as they had no control in her gaining a position of power. Gemma Collins for me would be the free ride, her comedy is her, not me attempting to be her.


So at this point I’m searching Amazon for a cheap wig and a lab coat, because the visual can be cheap but “words are triggers” (page 202) and how I work with Pixie and the audience seems like a more ‘left field’ attempt at something unexpected but rewarding.



Past my own irl interpretation of the book, I’ve written down summary sentences for each chapter so this is of at least some use than more cross dressing ramblings:


CHAPTER ONE: What position is all about.


Simplicity and greater understanding of IT (your product) and WHO (your audience).



CHAPTER TWO: The assault on the mind.


Scale, the breadth of advertisings voice and the hot air (or noise) that fills it today.



CHAPTER THREE: Getting into the mind.


Push to the front; be first somehow, even if you were second.



CHAPTER FOUR: Those little ladders in your head.


“That’s why if you have a truly new product, it is better to say what it is not, rather than it is”.


Know your competitors, but most importantly know yourself.


“You won’t find an uncola idea in a 7-up can, you will find it inside a cola drinkers head”.



CHAPTER FIVE: You can’t get there from here.


If you are sinking, embrace it? Trying to be something the product/position is not will make it a sticker situation



CHAPTER SIX: Positioning of a leader.


Spreading too thin can be bad – being a leader means knowing your game, and not playing all of them at once.



CHAPTER SEVEN: Positioning of a follower.


We all knew that person who acted like they were friends with everyone… but can we really remember who they are?


“You dirty little liar, explain how you forgot to invite us to your party – I had to pretend to be plastic. You’re not pretending anymore, you are cold shiny hard plastic.”  – Mean Girls 2004.



CHAPTER EIGHT: Repositioning the competition.


Be cocky when you have the upper hand; don’t mimic.


CHAPTER NINE: The power of the name.


Don’t have a shit name; the author says so (lacking creativity on this one)



CHAPTER TEN: The no-name trap.


No matter how established you are – you aren’t.



CHAPTER ELEVEN: The free ride trap.


I saw this chapter very much like todays politics, a few months ago before todays politics voted Theresa May back in… she was initially inheriting the position as Cameron resigned, no one knew her and had no connection to her. She was at a weaker position than fighting for herself.



CHAPTER TWELEVE: The line-extension trap


This chapter is very much “heard of this… well guess what?! No you haven’t and they did an even shit job”.


Line extension is great for forwarding the success of something from the past, but is does not entirely ride on the tailcoats of that.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN: When line extension can work.


Line extension works when it’s completely new, or partially based on something already in the mind of the prospect (i.e. DIET coke).



CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Positioning a company: Xerox.


Xerox is amazing, Xerox makes copiers. Remember that.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Positioning a country: Belgium.


Prospect doesn’t know about it? Position – Relation – Position.



CHAPTER SIXTEEN: Positioning an Island: Jamaica


Very similar to Belgium/Amsterdam expect it is Jamaica/Hawaii



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Positioning a product: Milk Duds


The prospect is the answer.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: Positioning a service: Mailgram


Doing the same shit different. Be true.



CHAPTER NINETEEN: Positioning a Long Island Bank


Make it personal and reap the reward from that connection.



CHAPTER TWENTY: Positioning a New Jersey Bank


Tired examples; recognise your pro’s against their flaws.



CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: Positioning a ski resort: Stowe


Ranking and credibility is worthwhile.



CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Positioning the Catholic Church                                    


When all is lost and forgotten, travel back in time two thousand years.



CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: Positioning yourself and your career


Something about horses; fuck everything.



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: Positioning your business.


Trust yo self; do not change for ANYONE



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: Playing the positioning game.


A lot of things that surround the core message of being everything at all times. Don’t just appeal to one group of people, but do when you are starting out to establish. And make a memorable name. Understand change, the impact of words. Ensure you aren’t riding on the coat tails of something you are not.


Be it.

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