In 1972 a couple of highly creative New York advertising professionals named Al Reis and Jack Trout created a unique marketing concept they called positioning. Their objective was to position products, companies, services, or institutions in the minds of potential customers in a way that differentiated them from the clutter and confusion of the marketplace. Their idea was to replace advertising superlatives with marketing comparatives. Examples: Avis, "We try harder"; Seven-Up, "The Uncola"; Honeywell, "We're the other computer company." Instead of creating ideas that did not already exist in the prospect's mind, positioning accented ideas that were already there. Now some of you Doubting Thomases will say: "Positioning is nothing new. It merely substitutes a new advertising slogan for an old one!" "Not so!" say Reis and Trout. "The average mind is already a dripping sponge that can soak up more information only at the expense of what is already there. Millions of dollars have been wasted trying to change people's minds." They argue, "Once a mind is already made up, it's almost impossible to change it." They suggest that marketers look inside their prospects' minds for marketing ideas because it's easier and more cost-effective to promote product benefits buyers already believe and accept. In an overcommunicating society, very little communication actually takes place, say Reis and Trout. And, although most examples of the success of positioning are taken from the fields of advertising and marketing, they have proved that the concept works equally well for people who want to influence the minds of other people. Whether you want to promote products, ideas, programs, or even yourself, positioning is a battle for people's minds. And that's a battle all executives need to win, whether the targets are their board of directors, their employees, their competitors, their shareholders, the media, or themselves. The easiest way to get into a person's mind is to get there first. If you can't be first, the authors suggest that you must find a way to position yourself against the products, the companies, the people, and the competitors who got there first. The most important thing to remember is that positioning is not what you do to a product (or a person). Positioning is what you do to the mind of the prospect. To be successful, you must touch base with reality. And the reality that really counts is what's already in the prospect's mind. To try to create something that does not already exist in the mind is becoming more and more difficult. If not impossible.