Books that Influenced my Thinking: Ries and Trout’s Positioning


Al Ries and Jack Trout wrote two books that impacted my thinking about data quality. Positioning is essentially about establishing a place in the customer or prospect’s mind. Open the front cover and the right-hand page reads: “To the world’s second best marketing firm.”

Flip the page to read: “Whoever they are.”

Now that’s positioning!

It is an especially important lesson, especially today. Practically everyone I talk to knows that data quality is important. It just ranks seven on their list of “top-five priorities.” Those of us who want to see data quality penetrate every nook and cranny of the company must recognize that job one is “moving quality up the list.”

But don’t be deceived. For quality to move up, other items have to move down. The problem is not simply to demonstrate that data quality is important. It is to demonstrate that data quality is more important than the items it will displace.

The only alternative is to attach data quality to items already on the top-five list. Many projects, units and departments have done so successfully. It is a terrific idea, and more of us should do it. But it is not yet clear to me whether a sequence of such attachments eventually leads to wholesale culture change, across the entire company. Stay tuned.

Positioning notes that the most important space to occupy is “the six inches between the ears” and positioning is the “battle for that space.” Great stuff.

An apology to readers: I just went to my bookshelf to verify the quotes, above. But alas, Positioning has disappeared! I’m confident that the spirit of the review above is correct, though the quotes may prove inexact. Apologies.

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