In the pantheon of great marketing minds, Jack Trout holds a lofty position. Which is appropriate, given his role in creating the branding and marketing concept known as positioning.
Trout, who is credited with inventing the term, died Monday, June 5, at age 82, AdAge reported. He and his long-time consulting partner Al Ries wrote Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, which is one of the best books on branding and marketing ever written. The original book, published in 1981, has sold more than 2 million copies, according to AdAge, and thanks to Trout and Ries’ work, the concept of positioning is now known to marketers all over the world, whether they’ve read the book or not.
I first read Positioning in the late 1990s or early 2000s, when I was still heavily focused in the world of public relations but eager to learn more about branding. The book was an eye-opener, and I immediately saw relevance to my PR work. After all, I was trying to attract media attention for faculty research, student projects and activities, and university events. How could I “position” these news releases so that they stood out among the many other communiques journalists were receiving from PR people every day?
Positioning gave me valuable insights that I’ve carried with me to this day. The examples from the book are from a bygone era, but the principles outlined in its pages are timeless. Higher education, with our thousands of institutions and lack of differentiation, could benefit greatly from the lessons of this book.
If you work in marketing, branding, public relations or communications of any form, do yourself a favor and add Positioning to your summer reading list. And thank Jack Trout for passing along his wisdom.