Contributed Column

Marketing Demystified

by Matt Hayes, Hayes Group Inc.

In the Beginning

The beginning? Yes. In marketing terms, the beginning came when we went from a sales-driven culture to a marketing-driven culture. But you knew that. What you may not have known is that the concept of positioning and the notion that “positioning is everything” began in the multinational ad agencies of New York. This I can confirm because I was there.

Back before Trout and Ries published their breakaway book, Positioning, that very concept was being taught to the creative and account management staff at Grey Advertising. At the time, Grey was considered by many to be the Harvard of Madison Avenue. I’m sure that would be open for debate by the other major agency competitors in the Big Apple of that time. But what is not open for debate is that the internal training copy (which I still have on film) was available in the training rooms at Grey as early as 1968.

Written primarily by Dick Karp, creative director of Grey’s New York office in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the copy of the training film went like the following and is still instructive to staff and helpful to clients of mine to this day.

Let’s consider The Positioning of an Egg.

What is positioning anyway? Well, let’s go back to that other beginning. All the way back to the egg. Let’s say that you are suddenly faced with marketing an egg ( your current challenge). The first thing that you have to do is position it. Right? Trust me, you do.

Just about everybody eats eggs. Mostly women buy them. It would be nice if you were the only one attempting to sell eggs, but you are not. There are flocks of other eggs around for people to buy instead of yours.

You simply have to find a way to give your egg a personality. Make it stand for something. You’ve got to position your egg so more people will think it’s better than all the others.

Let’s start with the product. Maybe your egg is whiter than the others. On the other hand, maybe it’s darker. Could it be larger than any of the other eggs around? How about fresher? Hey that sounds like it could be a position - but nothing really unique just yet.

So far, all you have is a plain white egg. So dig a little bit. Reach. Explore. Is your egg fancier? Or, healthier? Is it any country-er in character? Hey, maybe it’s sexier. Could it be cheaper? Cheaper!!? Nope.

So far, it’s still a plain white egg. Fresh as the best of them. Same size, same price, same vitamins and minerals.

Ladies and gentlemen, you need a position. Well, dig some more you must. Maybe the product in use will hold some answers.Does it make a better soft-boiled egg? Not necessarily. How about hard-boiled? Not particularly. A better egg salad? Nope. Better Easter eggs? Doubtful.

Say, maybe it’s better with beer. Or makes a better soufflé or gourmet dish. Sorry. All you have, still, is a plain white egg.

And that’s just not enough in today’s scrambled-up, hard-boiled and competitive egg market.

You have to believe that someplace there is a unique position, so you go outside of your normal MO and do some research into consumer attitudes. You uncover a few facts.

Fact one: Most people like their eggs fried.

Fact two: Most who like their eggs fried like their yolks unbroken.

Fact three: The fresher the egg, the better the chance of its ending up with an unbroken yolk.

So you review your findings. Yours is among the freshest; and nobody is talking about freshness and the fried egg.

There it is! Your positioning. Our egg means an unbroken yolk when fried because it’s so fresh. Not bad. And just a while ago, all you had was a plain white egg.

Well, now we are off to the races. We have a positioning from which we can build a marketing strategy, promotion ideas and a creative strategy that tells us when to sell, what to sell and how to sell it.

All this because we now have a positioning: the fresh, fried egg with the unbroken yolk.

So, you see, “Positioning Is Everything.”

In today’s complex world of information choices, it is even more important than it once was to keep it simple and respect the basics. When the concept of positioning first hit the marketing scene, as obvious as it would seem once articulated, it was a bit revolutionary. Today it is (or should be) part of every marketing communications program. It should be at the foundation of every program you launch in an attempt to build your image, awareness, usage and intent to buy. •

Matt Hayes is president and creative director of Hayes Group Inc. in Williston.

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