Saturday, February 6, 2010

Go Back and Change Someone's Mind

I've had the chance to interview Jack Trout three times in my career. The first time I was working to get him to come to Seattle and speak to my chapter of the American Marketing Association. The second time was when we talked about his (then) new book In Search of the Obvious. This time, I spoke with Jack about his latest book -- one that revisits his seminal work of nearly 30 years ago.

While positioning was all about the battle for the mind, Repositioning is about adjusting those perceptions once they've been made. He liberally uses the examples of Mac versus the PC -- how Mac changed the argument from one of technology to the type of person you wanted to be. This is just one of the three keys he mentions: competition, change, and crisis.

Trout spends a lot of time talking about the difference between value and price -- and how they're not the same thing. While that may seem obvious, it isn't common practice. What stirs someone to want to make an investment into a product -- to find that there is something special in that product or service? Trout says it's about repositioning your argument based on what they're telling you.

While this may seem tried and true Trout, you're right. Trout has been selling the same choir book for more than 30 years now, but it is so fundamental and so truly important that the refresh is welcome. While we can learn from history, and other people's mistakes, I think we can also learn from Trout on how to set ourselves apart from the masses, and deeply entrench our value promises in the minds of our audiences.

Specific to non profits, Trout suggests that everything he's written completely relates. He goes one step further to note that not only do non profits need to get really good at what they do, but they also have to be seen as specialists. I can't agree more on these two points. Non profits must be experts at doing what they do, but they also have to be seen as niche experts and leaders -- those practitioners worthy of special consideration and funding.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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