Don’t panic but ponder this: Our minds are filled with ladders. Unfortunately, there are only three rungs on each category ladder that really matter.
I’m not sure if there is scientific proof of the three-rung theory that is central to the marketing classic, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” but anecdotally, I’ve found it to be true. So much so that since 1990, Al Ries and Jack Trout’s book on the subject became “must reads” for my employees and clients.
My paraphrase of their premise is this: People have “ladders” in their minds for pretty much everything. The tough part: there are only about three rungs on a ladder in which people can remember or that matter to them. If your company or product brand isn’t one of those three, you are pretty much hosed from a market share standpoint.
Think about it for a moment.
What are the three top cereal brands that immediately come to mind? How about the top three pest control companies? What about the top three motor oil brands? The top three life insurance companies?
If I asked you to name the top seven in those categories, you’d likely have a tough time getting past the top three or four.
If your brand isn’t in the top three, what do you do? According to Ries and Trout, you set up a new ladder – create a new category that resonates with your target audience AND one that you can ideally own the top rung.
A fitting example is NyQuil. The cold medicine category already had three brands on the top three rungs of the ladder before NyQuil came on the scene. What did they do? They created a new ladder: “NIGHTTIME Cold Medicine.” Simple. Brilliant.
If you haven’t read, “Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind” as part of your brand positioning strategy, I highly recommend you do. Looking for outside help in addressing your company’s brand positioning as part of your growth strategy? We can help.