Book: Differentiate or Die, Jack Trout

Review

Similar lessons to author’s previous book, Positioning, but worth a read nonetheless. Lessons here can be a difference between a failed or a successful company. Also great lessons for successful companies that don’t want to fail.

Buy on Amazon.com.

tl;dr

Quality is not a difference, it’s a given. When the market is confused, the leader wins. Every aspect of your communication should reflect your difference. Oversimplify your message. The more variations you attach to the brand, the more the mind loses focus. If you can’t get everyone to prefer you, find a group that will. When you chase after another target segment, chances are you’ll chase away your original customer. Differentiating has got to line up with the perceptions in the mind, not go against them.

Summary

In other words, quality is a given these days, not a difference.

There are no virgin markets. The reality of marketing is that a market consists of consumers strongly or weakly held by a range of competitors.

Marketing “is a discipline, a science that positions your product in relative terms to your competition.”

When the market is confused the leader wins.

The evidence shows that people seldom buy a strange brand just because its price is cut.

1. High-quality products should be more expensive. 2. High-priced products should offer prestige.

If you have a product difference, then you should be able to demonstrate that difference.

Every aspect of your communications should reflect your difference. Your advertising. Your brochures. Your website. Your sales presentations.

How much of your message gets through depends to a large part on what you are selling.

The best way to really enter minds that hate complexity and confusion is to oversimplify your message.

The lesson here is not to try to tell your entire story. Just focus on one powerful differentiating idea and drive it into the mind.

Behavioral scientists say there are five forms of perceived risk: monetary risk, functional risk, physical risk,social risk, psychological risk.

When the market makes up its mind about a product, there’s no changing that mind.

The more variations you attach to the brand, the more the mind loses focus.

The brand extension products performed significantly less well than the products launched with new brand names.

Studies show that in most cases being first to the market provides a significant and substantial market share advantage over later entrants. It also forces later entrants to find their own distinctive positioning strategy.

If you’re introducing the first brand in a new category, you should always try to select a name that can work generically.

Being first is one thing. Staying first is another. It takes enormous effort and energy to ride that wave.

Successful firsts aren’t tricky. They tend to be good ideas.

Being first in one part of the world doesn’t preclude someone from borrowing that idea and launching a “first” in his or her own part of the world.

But beware, you can’t own the same attribute or position that your competitor owns. You must seek out another attribute.

The most effective attributes are simple and benefit oriented.

You can’t predict the size of a new attribute’s share, so never laugh.

When you do get on top, make sure the marketplace knows it.

If you can’t get everyone to prefer you, find a group that will.

Focus on the product and locate that unique piece of technology.

Magic ingredients don’t have to be explained, because they are magic.

Doing things like your bigger competitors is how to get killed in the wars out there.

An indirect way to use the press is to entice them to write about the problem that you happen to be solving with your product or company.

In our view, two bad things happen when companies chase the god of growth. First, they become distracted and miss the opportunity to pour it on and preempt that differentiating idea, or to make it bigger and better. Problem 1: Distraction – You dominate the high-performance business by getting more customers to want high-performance computing. Problem 2: Line Extension – The more things you try to become and the more you lose focus, the more difficult it is to differentiate your product.

Gillete Mach 3, Atra, etc. – ”the complementary approach,” as you have brands that complement rather than compete with one another.

When you study categories over a long period of time, you can see that adding more can weaken growth, not help it.

Most failed brands once had a differentiating idea that they destroyed by adding more and more versions.

When you chase after another target segment, chances are you’ll chase away your original customer.

In many cases, the sacrifice is found primarily in how you communicate or craft your message to the marketplace as to why you’re different. Once you capture those prospects, you’re free to sell them whatever. And how you make your money is yet another issue.

And that’s the problem with all-out globalization. Tastes vary. Preferences vary. People vary. You can differentiate anywhere. But you can’t differentiate everywhere with the same idea.

Differentiating has got to line up with the perceptions in the mind, not go against them.

“The foundation of effective leadership is thinking through the organization’s difference, defining it and establishing it, clearly and visibly.”

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