Gartner Blog Network

Reflections on Positioning

by Hank Barnes  |  June 13, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

Last Sunday, Jack Trout passed away.   There are plenty of stories about his legacy that you can find via Google (here is one from the New York Times).   But one of the best was from Branding Insider.

When I heard the news, it served as yet another reminder of what an influence Trout and his partner Al Ries have been on my career.   They were my first marketing muses, bringing a level of clarity and simplicity that guided, and still guides, my thinking.   As my career evolved,  I added Geoffrey Moore to my muse list, leveraging his extensions of Trout and Ries positioning concepts to the world of technology.


When I joined Gartner a little over 4 years ago, one of my first efforts was to work with our team to try to standardize how Gartner guided clients on positioning.   Like other words, positioning has come to mean a lot of different things to different people, but the standard set by Moore provides a level of specificity and focus that is critical to build a messaging foundation.  And it all comes back to the original premise from Trout–how do you own a position in the mind of your customer.

Using that approach, I’ve probably helped well over a thousand companies work to simplify and clarify their story and improve their ability to differentiate.   Add in all of my teammates who use the same approach and the impact grows.    It’s made a difference for me and a difference for our clients.  If you search for the word positioning in my blog, you’ll find a ton of posts that explore it from different angles–or its relationship to other ideas.

Positioning alone is not the answer, but it is a core foundation to standing out, being noticed, and being remembered.  It is fundamental to strategy.

Jack Trout worked on a lot of other things beyond Positioning in his other books, but everything came back to that central concept.  When an idea is that good and that important, there is nothing wrong with that. Positioning and simplicity were his mantras.  Let’s not forget them with his passing.

I’ll be conducting two positioning clinics at the Gartner Tech Growth and Innovation Conference next week.  Those sessions are already sold out (as are the companion Storytelling Clinics I’m also running–positioning lays the groundwork, but stories deliver).    As I run them, I’ll be thinking about Jack Trout.  And trying to help the attendees find ways to stand out in the crowd.

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: gartnertgi  positioning  strategy  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
6+ years at Gartner
30+ years IT Industry

Hank Barnes explores the dynamics, challenges, and frustrations enterprises face when buying technology products and services. Using that customer-centric lens, he advises those responsible for marketing technology products and services, general managers responsible for product portfolios, and startup CEOs on next practices to drive success for their customers and their business. Read Full Bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.