What American Idol can teach you about positioning

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What American Idol can teach you about being #1
What American Idol can teach you about being #1

Strong positioning will help your brand stay relevant after a flashy launch effort.

Kelly Clarkson. Carrie Underwood. Chris Daughtry. Jennifer Hudson.

By now, these people are household names. The alumni of American Idol have sold millions of albums and won numerous industry accolades, including Billboard Music Awards, Grammys, and even an Academy Award.

They sell out arenas, dominate radio playlists, and star in your favorite TV shows. Their impact on the entertainment industry is immeasurable. But at one time, each alumnus was just a face in a crowd, one person in a mass of thousands, waiting for a chance to shine.

So what gave these reality show contestants the power to outlast their 15 minutes of fame? The answer is simple: strong positioning.

As you get ready to launch your drug or device, a positioning statement is essential for shaping the way you want your core audience to view your brand. A great positioning statement will tell your audience what you stand for.

Will you be the brand of faster efficacy? A novel, unparalleled formula? Convenient delivery? A portrait of safety? At the point of prescription—the moment that matters—what will make the physician remember your product, and more importantly, choose your brand?

Today's American Idol alums have not quite mastered the science of positioning, and are getting lost in the mix of YouTube wunderkinds. After 10 years, Idol is definitely starting to show its age. The dozens of copycats that followed in Idol's path turned primetime reality talent competitions into a commodity marketplace.

Season 12 champ Philip Phillips was the 5th WGWG (white guy with guitar) winner in a row, proving once again that teenage girls and grandmas have turned the show into a popularity contest and that the winner is not necessarily the best candidate for surviving today's cutthroat music industry. Being crowned an Idol champion no longer guarantees a certified-gold career.

The alums who have stayed in the spotlight are the ones who figured out their shtick early in the process, and honed it to perfection. Kelly Clarkson is the soulful pop diva with a vengeance. Carrie Underwood is country music's sweetheart. Chris Daughtry is the sensitive, guyliner-wearing rocker (the original WGWG!). Jennifer Hudson is the powerhouse underdog.

At my point of purchase on iTunes, I think about my current music needs and who will fulfill them. Do I need to scream and fist pump my ex-boyfriend in the face? No one better than Kelly Clarkson. Do I need to play air guitar and growl about my (imaginary) life on the road? Cue Chris Daughtry.

Your brand's positioning−particularly the unique selling proposition−should firmly plant the relevance and need for your product in the physician's head so that your brand is always top of mind at the point of prescription.

Every brand, like every celebrity, gets 15 minutes of fame at launch time. Right now your product is a face in the crowd, anxiously waiting for the moment when FDA approval is granted and it can finally step into the launch spotlight. When that moment comes, will your brand have what it takes to turn 15 minutes into a lifetime of success?

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