Play it how it is!

Switching off from work on the Easter long weekend didn’t go entirely to plan. In my moment of relaxation, the one thing that I bang on about the most, was banging on – during a session at the movies! The entire movie was dedicated to positioning. (The name of the movie is below, unless you can take a guess!).

I talk a lot about positioning. It comes first, last and throughout everything you do in marketing and in your business.

Way back when I was studying marketing they spoke about the 4x Ps: Product, Place, Promotion and Price. Brand fell somewhere in Promotion, and then positioning fell somewhere in brand. That was only 20 years ago. We had the concepts, but the order was completely out of whack.

Every decision (price, product, promotion, etc) stems from positioning, otherwise you’re in shambles. Building a room on a room on a room (without no clear plan). 

Why it makes complete sense to work on your positioning:

  • There is loads more competition, so we need to provide a compelling reason why someone should choose you.
  • The increasing noise levels, and therefore the need to be clear and consistent about who you are. (The average person was exposed to 500 to 1,600 advertising messages per day in 2000. By 2020, that number had increased six times to an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 advertising messages per day, Media Dynamics).
  • Ease of decision making – Positioning simplifies the choices regarding what steps to take (or not) and then also your approach to planning and execution. This happens all in the backend. What customers see is the front end, are why two fashion houses like Gucci and Louis Vuitton are very different.
  • Attracting the right people to work for you. If you are not clear on who you are and what makes you different, and you can articulate that very well (across all aspects of your business), then you risk bad hires, no hires, or your best performers leaving. Our brain is wired for sussing out incongruence. Especially in the Australian culture, we have a high BS radar! 
  • Business value – Positioning builds credibility, relevance and emotional connection, which builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty equates to sustainable revenue.

So the movie I watched was AIR with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Please check it out and soak yourself up in the power of positioning. It was Nike’s founding principles that drove their team and then drove one of the best buys of all time: Michael Jordan.

There are many approaches to positioning. Avis is one of the most talked about. It came from their market position in relation to their competitors. They took a ‘play it as it is’ approach!

For 13 years Avis were losing money until they owned their No.2 spot in the market with the positioning line: “Avis is only No.2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.”

Instead of competing with Hertz they owned their No.2 rank, and as a result provided a relatability factor – to help the customer create room in their mind for Avis (along with the leader Hertz) whilst also playing on the natural sympathy of supporting the ‘underdog’.

This line wasn’t just an ad line. It drove decision making in their business. You can imagine the conversation around the board room table – “Well how does No.2 behave in this situation”. I would confidently assume that No.2 is always looking for ways to be No.1 and that’s what drove them (mind the pun!!).

The genius of deciphering your positioning comes from analysing your customer, market and competitors, where you want to be, what makes you, you. Take your time. We often get so caught up in the ‘perceived speed’ of how life is moving, slow it down. If you want a positioning that lasts for 50 years (even 5 years), one that drives everything you do, invest the time.


There is also a lesson here on keeping your positioning expansive so it allows space to move within the direction, as your business, the market and your customer evolves.

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