Lamborghini mailbag

Philip Morgan

"They started with tractors, dummy!"

I got some great emails from y'all on Lamborghini. Emails from Europeans and non-Europeans both (a Greek client of mine said I over-generalized about Europeans not smiling in my email about smiling, and an American said I over-generalized about Americans smiling because I didn't take into account the cities of Boston or Philadelphia. Guilty as charged. :-| ).

The gist is: Lamborghini started life building tractors and then got into building bro-magnet cars much later.

So what's their market position? What are they known for? Tractors or bro-magnet cars?

Depends on who you ask, right?

I do this fun thing in the intro email sequence folks go through when they join this list (unless they join via /list in which case they get dropped into the melee here with no onboarding whatsoever).

I ask which of these products is positioning most effectively:

spray silicone cans

I get all kinds of nice answers to this question. Most go like this:

"The one in the middle is positioned most effectively because of [some attribute of that product]."

It's a trick question, though.

The trick is: you can't say which one is positioned most effectively because that depends on who you ask! It depends on the contents of their mind and whatever particular mentals residue of experience, thinking, and outside stimulus are there.

Maybe you have a kid with allergies to like everything. The food-safe spray silicone might be most effectively positioned for you.

Or maybe you need to lube up something in a wet environment, so the "water resistant" silicone is best positioned for your needs and desires. (I'm pretty sure all spray silicones are basically "water resistant" but that's a perfect example of picking a single attribute or feature or benefit of a product in order to specialize and thereby try to position it in the market. Who cares if they're all water resistant, you're the one that emphasizes that attribute in the headline!)

Right now, the WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton is in the midst of positioning himself in my mind as an entitled out of touch asshole. He's doing some of that work himself by giving interviews that make him seem to have misunderstood why Facebook paid a lot of money for his company in the first place. "What! You want to sell ads to the users of ~my~ your app?!" And the press is doing more of the work using the dumbass trope of the reluctant hero to frame his story, talking about how he left hundreds of millions of dollars on the table with his "principled" early exit.

But for others, maybe the framing of reluctant hero really works and Acton is positioned in somebody else's mind as a god among men who saved his sterling principles from the jaws of the rapacious Facebook with nary an inch to spare!

So yeah, positioning can be a tricky thing. You can't really inventory the contents of an entire marketplace's mind, and you certainly can't control it.

So what you do instead is specialize and stay on message. You control most all of that stuff. The marketplace position is the result of that work. It's what you earn with good decision making and disciplined, steady followup.

Two things for your hungry clicks-devices to act on:

  1. I read aloud my article A Framework for Deciding How to Specialize (/a-framework-for-deciding-how-to-specialize/) into an Electrovoice RE-16 microphone (I call it The Elvis Mic for reasons that Google can reveal to you) and painstakingly edited that recording and then published it here:

Some of you have said how great an audiobook version of The Positioning Manual would be. If that's you, now you can put your money where your mouth is! Listen to that recording--at least enough of it to form an opinion--and tell me by replying whether you still think an audiobook version of TPM is a good idea.

I kind of think it could be good, but I am not a professional audiobook reader, nor am I a professional voiceover artist. So maybe an audiobook version of TPM would actually be a hot steaming mess of embarrassing amateurism? Maybe people would listen and say "ewww. I thought specializing was a good idea until I heard this guy's voice talk about it..."

There's a time and a place to protect good but embryonic ideas, there's a time and a place to do market research and build what people want, and there's a time and a place to get unvarnished feedback on an idea. I think the unvarnished feedback option is the right one here.

So again, if you've ever said, "hey, I wish I could hear Philip's husky manvoice read TPM to me" then I hope you'll take 10, maybe 15 minutes to listen to some of Think of it as my "audition tape". Tell me if you still think an audiobook version of TPM would be a good idea.

  1. The early bird discount (takes the price from $800 to $600) for the Decision Making workshop expires on the 30th of this month. That's a mere 4 days from now!

If you'd like to bust through indecision about how to specialize, I can highly recommend this 1-month, totally online, totally great workshop: /specialization-school/part-1-decision-making-workshop/

How do you apply? Hit REPLY and we'll get things moving.