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Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  16,526 ratings  ·  476 reviews
The first book to deal with the problems of communicating to a skeptical, media-blitzed public, Positioning describes a revolutionary approach to creating a "position" in a prospective customer's mind-one that reflects a company's own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of its competitors. Writing in their trademark witty, fast-paced style, advertising gurus Ries and ...more
Paperback, 213 pages
Published January 3rd 2001 by McGraw-Hill Companies (first published 1980)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  16,526 ratings  ·  476 reviews


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Start your review of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind: How to Be Seen and Heard in the Overcrowded Marketplace
Milla Nezlina
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
The whole book can be boiled down to 2 key ideas:
- The brand that gets in the mind of the consumer first wins. Who makes the best soda? Coke! The best small cars? VW with its Beetle! The best round chips? Pringles! Tip: Find a narrow niche and hold it tight!
- Line extension is bad (Xerox producing computers in bad, Chevrolet making small cars is bad, even Pantene producing body foam is bad). Tip to companies: Never stray from the business where you are the leader!

I read the updated edition of
...more
Otis Chandler
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, business
Its old, but its a classic. I was told it's part of the curriculum for Harvard Business school. If you are creating a product or a brand, this is a MUST READ.

Biggest takeaway: you want to create a new category and dominate it. So don't be the 7th biggest social network, be the #1 book recommendation site.

People can only remember the top 3 things in any given category. It's a fun exercise actually, start to think of products and try to name as many brands as you can. Oftentimes you can only get
...more
C
Oct 10, 2015 rated it liked it
This book tells how to establish a position for your products and company in the minds of prospects. The authors say that the essence of positioning is to make your brand name stand for the generic (e.g., Kleenex).

I like the advice to start with the position you already have (what you’re already known for), and work to improve from there.

It’s mostly applicable to large companies with large advertising budgets, but most principles can apply to smaller businesses. It’s mostly applicable to product
...more
Jenny
Apr 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
This is a good book in need of an update. I read it for a grad school class and while it was interesting in parts, it was very much undergraduate level (Marketing 101) information. The biggest issue I had with it is that every example is out of date. He mentions companies that have now closed down and talks about the great things that they are doing - for example, he talks about how Newsweek is a much better magazine name than Time and will surely be more successful because of it. Since we all k ...more
Chris Herdt
Feb 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Chris by: Prof. Mike Rechtiene
This book feels like it was composed via cell phone text messages. Many of the paragraphs are a single sentence.

The main idea is that you cannot make in-roads in an existing market by attacking the top dog. The top dog, the market leader, will beat you every time. Instead, the authors argue that you have to position your product/company/person in the mind of the consumer, in relation to the market leader. And forcing your idealized position on the mind of the consumer won't work, so your positio
...more
Eric Lin
May 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, business
I don't read books about marketing. Ever. It was pretty interesting though, since the trends he describes can definitely be observed in action.

However, Ries raised a lot of red flags with how certain he sounded about his assessments. He says things like, "a better name for product X? *name he just came up with*". Sometimes, he makes these statements without much supporting evidence. Anyway, it wasn't a huge part of the book, but he sounded so sure about everything, and that really off-putting fo
...more
Nasos Psarrakos
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was good. Then the last chapter came in, and made it a must read 🤩🤩
Ahmad Badghaish
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
One of the classics in marketing. I believe it’s a concept that should be known by every marketer.
George Olaru
Jun 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
A useful (and general) overview of the importance of positioning and how much it carries on being first in the prospect's mind. Like in any other solution-seeking process, the advice to start with what you already have (and what you're already known for), is often neglected. ...more
Saeed
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you want to choose a name for your children as the new parents or you want to be more productive and reduce fatal mistakes in your career, this book is for you. It's about the power of branding in social life. I read this book because of Seth Godin's books recommendation on marketing and I must say that Al Ries is a great person that teaching you the essence of Positioning. What a great book! I really enjoyed it. After this book, I want to read all the author's works. Now I read this book plu ...more
Nathan Maharaj
Aug 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diy-mba
The opening chapters are very blowhardy: I nearly threw down the book in disgust. But when the authors finally get going they're golden (if fairly dated). Their insights on how brands convey meaning, especially how they fail to carry all the meaning companies intend them to when they create line extensions, all of that stuff is great and makes me want to re-read this in a few years (or maybe grab the audiobook) to see how the knowledge has settled. Absolutely essential reading for anybody trying ...more
Shannon
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this book to help enhance the growth of my start-up ladies leisurewear brand, Broads. While this book had me engage in a lot of critical thinking about typical product placement and where I would like to see my line in five, ten, and even twenty years from now, I felt as if Positioning was a bit dated and put too much of an emphasis on companies with bold names. I was hoping to learn more about creating a solid position in a marketplace that is difficult to 'break' into. ...more
Drew
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own, c-business
Another 200 page business/marketing book that would have been better published as a pamphlet. There are some great ideas here though, so I can see why its held its classic status.
Ryan
Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some of the case studies were a bit antiquated, but still helpful nonetheless. Included lots of gems that resonated enough to inspire separate note-taking. Got me all the more pumped to start a new job next week, yeehaww 🤠 !
GDM Nagarjuna
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With the disclaimer that there are no golden rules that work out all the time in marketing, the authors do an incredible job in sharing their thoughts and experience on positioning, be it your product, service or a company.
Dhruv Shah
Jul 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
TL;DR
(Background: I am an MBA Marketing student from India)
A few essential concepts in a 200+ pages book that is dated and only relevant for big companies. Almost every single example mentioned in the book is of big American companies from the 60s or 70s. As a person born and raised in India, I have to say I was not familiar with the majority of the examples. If you're the same, you might not fully understand every concept explained in the book.

I picked up this book after reading many good revie
...more
Chung Chin
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: becoming-smarter
I agree with other reviewers who commented that the book is in a need of an update - urgently.

I also didn't particularly enjoy the book because of:
1. The style of writing.
The staccato-styled writing is very distracting for me. Of course, I understand that this is a personal grouch.
2. Repetition on the importance of being first and a very good name.
What happens to those that are not first to market? While there's a section that explains how to position as a follower, I feel that the book is E
...more
Adam DuVander
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biz, mbc-selections
A classic whose concepts are covered more succinctly in the authors’ follow up Immutable Laws of Marketing. There are more detailed examples here, but it suffers from even more dated company and trend references (drugs and airlines that haven’t existed since the 70s, a positioning plan for a Western Union service, and hailing cable TV as the next great frontier).

I want to applaud the concepts, which I think are timeless. But I keep getting tripped up by the ancient references.
Curtismchale
Meh if you're a big brand and need to think long and hard about how your single product in a swath of products fits in a market then sure this is a decent book to read. For small business and solo consultants there are much more useful books out there where you'll get some actionable advice. ...more
Sky
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mind Buggling experience as I battle with this book :)
Tom McInnes
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This is, like so many books of its type, a very good pamphlet with about 170 pages of unnecessary examples.
Felipe Petersen
May 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing
The book is already a little outdated, but most principles still hold. Its main premise is that we live in an overcommunicated society (and, mind you, this was written in 1980), so to make an offering stand out, you should carve out a clear position that clearly differentiates from other players in your potential customers' minds. I've selected a few takeaways to share:

• First-movers have an easier time defining a segment and being associated with it. It bears remembrance.
• We have a product lad
...more
Jorė
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure it's even four stars. I've really struggled through the bigger half of the book, but maybe its just me bored of reading advertising/marketing stories and preferring anything else.
For those who want a short version, there's an old interview "The mind is the ultimate battlefield" with Al Ries - it perfectly served me since the university days and gave a good enough understanding of what the big idea is.
There are certain values of the long read:
- historical overview of marketing lands
...more
Martti
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The brand that gets in the mind of the consumer first wins.

Line extension is bad (Xerox expanding into computers with the same product name "Xerox" is not recommended). “One name can’t stand for two distinctly different products. When one goes up, the other goes down.” The more products hung on a brand name, the less meaning the name has to the average consumer.

How to establish a position for your products and company in the minds of prospects. The authors say that the essence of positioning is
...more
Maris
Dec 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Rules on how to make yourself heard in a market that's already crowded with too many products. I was surprised that there was so much emphasis on how important it is to have the right name for your product, company, and yourself for that matter. That's where you play with minds. The book of course follows the ideas and logic of 80/20 - winning companies in their areas have the best names AND take the biggest profits. But the market is also dynamic and if you position yourself correctly and name ...more
Ana-Maria Bujor
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, non-fiction
I am actually working now on launching a new product. This book was very useful in helping me put my thoughts together. While stating the obvious, this book manages to make you feel like you've discovered America once again. Loved the examples and the reasoning behind all of it.
Sure, some things are a bit outdated, in the end Pringles did end up being successful and the book is repetitive at times. But these are small hindrances. If you want to communicate something to people, including if you
...more
Zora
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is really dated (case studies include Kodak, etc.) and prior to the digital age, but surprisingly still worthwhile. Even though published in 2001, the audio version (more so than the hard copy) had a 1950s-60s vibe. Still, I found it valuable for understanding general rules around product/company positioning in the marketplace.
Anthony Blair
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic

Sound marketing strategies. The context is dated. An astute person can pull out the nuggets and apply them in today's marketing world successfully. This book is one to read more than once.
...more
David
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
The core course of marketing.
Omar Diego
Jun 21, 2022 added it
Shelves: copy
The author focuses on perception. Gave me much to think about because perception is relative to the competition, that is, to previously existing slots in the human mind.
My takeaway is this: You can't create new space in your prospects' minds. You can merely occupy existing slots and exploit them. Which is why being FIRST matters.
A bit repetitive near the end though.
...more
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Al Ries is a marketing professional and author. He is also the co-founder and chairman of the Atlanta-based consulting firm Ries & Ries with his partner and daughter, Laura Ries. Along with Jack Trout, Ries coined the term "positioning", as related to the field of marketing, and authored Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, an industry standard on the subject.
Ries graduated from DePauw Universit
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The American South has produced some Hall of Fame literary superstars: William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Wendell Berry. And...
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“The basic approach of positioning is not to create something new and different, but to manipulate what's already up there in the mind, to retie the connections that already exist.” 6 likes
“Don't play semantic games with the prospect. Advertising is not a debate. It's a seduction.” 6 likes
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