Marketing: Positioning and How To Get There

One of the most commonly held assumptions about positioning a brand is that it is only a set of words put together and written up for publication. But that’s simply not so. It’s much, much more than that. In fact, that only describes the end process but it doesn’t describe the work of positioning a brand and what it actually involves.

So I’m writing this post to debunk that myth for those who are new to positioning, and positioning a brand. Positioning a brand deserves hours, days and even months of deep thinking, planning, informed by reliable market research full of qualitative data, for one. It demands rigorous debate, frank disagreement, and ruthless scrutiny.

During this thinking, planning and research process, it’s important to question and test the assumptions people hold. That helps to find gaps and weaknesses that your competitor might exploit.

Yes, quantitative data is important and helpful. But when you are counting on research to inform major decisions that have significant investments of resource and budget, then it doesn’t hurt to get qualitative information to help give a better understanding of why your audiences or viewers are making certain choices.

Qualitative information gives insightful information about the ‘why’ in people’s choices and attitudes.

When you are reaching out to hard-to-reach audiences and specific ethnic populations, qualitative data helps to understand differences in consumer behaviour.

By the way, when I’m referring to brand, I’m also referring to an organisation, a celebrity, a company or a political movement. A brand isn’t confined to just being a product, although technically speaking, one could say that an organisation is a product, so too is a celebrity.

When I am referring to markets, that is your audience, the people you are targeting, the people you want to speak to, connect with, and influence.

When I refer to the marketing mix in these conversations, it’s the 4 Ps: Price, Product, Promotion and Place.

So how do you get started on positioning? There’s a three-step process that’s tried and tested, and worth noting down for your marketing and communications discipline.  Let me start with the first step here.

  1. Segment Your Market
    This is a critical process in marketing. Divide the market up into segments into distinct subsets. There’s different ways you can segment your market, depending on a number of  factors. One thing about segmentation is that location is an important variable.

If you’d like to know more about the segmentation process and different ways to segment your markets, let me know by email.

Everyone’s Secret Weapon

I was exploring on Stumbleupon tonight and this wonderful visual popped up. It certainly speaks truth and I’m not a perfect human being, in case you hadn’t noticed, but I know in my heart that this adage works in work, home and life.

happy is the man

Visuals that Tell The Vaccine Story

I am constantly on the look out for fresh ways to tell a compelling story on subject matters that have no entertainment or celebrity value. Like health, for example.  As we continue to see advances in technology and on social media, there’s an abundance of opportunities to find these examples. So thanks to social media, here’s a couple of examples I’ve checked out this morning and I thought I’d share them with you.

Video 1
The subject matter is important. It’s about vaccines and they save millions of lives.  But despite the importance of the message, a large number of people would rather watch news with entertainment value, then a message that could save lives. So that’s a communications challenge to resolve.

Just as I was about to stop watching this video, the unidentified hand doing the infographic grabbed my attention. I couldn’t take my eyes of it. Admittedly, I was looking for something to keep me interested and the hand sketching the infographic did it for me.  And before you knew it, I was listening to Bill Gates, no problem. To help the infographic sketching work with the voice track, the pace has been sped up to flow with the narrative.  Conclusion: using the infographic with hand streaming with voice works.

Video 2

This is compelling to me because it starts with the personal story of a mother who has lost her baby. That is heartbreaking. Yet her energy and commitment trying to persuade mothers in Gambia to have their children vaccinated is heartwarming and inspiring. Vaccines saves children’s lives.  She is saving lives by helping to spread the message. And that’s an incredible legacy to come out of great loss and suffering.

An inspiring story of a mother and the grassroots efforts using song that worked at inspiring village families to have their children vaccinated. This visual tells the story of vaccines as a personal story, strongly and simply.

How to Increase Your Facebook Engagement

Poynter Institute has published an insightful piece on an issue that organisations in the public and private sector want answers to.  How to get the most engagement from your Facebook Like Page. More businesses in New Zealand are seeing the benefits of using social media platforms as an engagement tool.  So I thought I’d link you  to the post by clicking here . I would share and paraphrase it here for you but I’m a bit short on time today.





This Day in History 1914: New Zealand Captures German Samoa

It happened 99 years ago today. Most Samoans will know this history through their family histories and the stories from elders passed on through the generations about village life under the German Administration and the soldiers.

This piece of research came out of initial family history work I have been doing over the past 12 months in order to write a family book for my children and my nephews and nieces on their ancestry which stretches from Samoa, Fiji and Tongan as well as other nations. This particular post to mark this anniversary was prompted by a question my youngest son asked me one day last year. “Mum, was Samoa once called German Samoa and run by Germans?” Yes it was, son, and this is a rather lengthy but detailed response.

Street scene showing New Zealand troops and a Samoan group, photographed by Malcolm Ross during the annexation ceremony in Apia, Western Samoa, 29 August 1914.

Street scene showing New Zealand troops and Samoans walking on the other side of the road passing them, photographed by Malcolm Ross during the annexation ceremony in Apia, Western Samoa, 29 August 1914.

Samoa was once a German colony called German Samoa until 29 August 1914 when New Zealand, under direction from the British Empire, sent a military force to Samoa to seize the western islands of Samoa.  Seizing Western Samoa from Germany was New Zealand’s first empirial duty for the British Empire as part of its war duties heading into War World I.

The Union Jack flag was hoisted and raised by a Samoan named Naea.

This is how the events of 29 August 1914 was reported in the New Zealand media two days later.  It marked the beginning of New Zealand’s 48-year occupation and administration of Western Samoa, now referred to as the Independent State of Samoa since 1997.


What was life like as a German colony?

One of the stories I was told of that period came from a pese that I had to learn as a teenager for a siva as part of a dance item with other young women for church celebrations. The siva and words referenced the derogatory way in which the German soldiers treated the chiefs in the villages.  It rebuked them in song and, chances are, villagers would have sung these songs within earshot of the soldiers if it was known that they didn’t understand Samoan. That was a history lesson I never forgot.

Five years before New Zealand captured German Samoa, this newspaper report in 1909 referring to the German Governor’s deportation of a number of chiefs and their relatives out of their own country, removing matai powers for any successors to be called in their absence, and adding extra taxes to the people as punishment.


The New Zealand Colonist newspaper clipping dated 29th August 1914 titled Britain and Samoa sheds further light on the general feeling Samoans held towards the German by the events of 1914:

“The Samoan natives are restless, according to Captain Allen, and it is believed that if fighting occurs, they will attack the Germans. This is extremely probable for the war-loving people of Upolu and Savaii and Manono have never had any affection although the Kaiser officials, either openly or surreptitiously assisted them with their arms during their periodical wars.”

Britain and Samoa

The following history is provided by digital histories at

It is, admittedly, a New Zealand perspective from the point of view of the military intervention. Samoa’s tradition of oral histories means that very few, if any written records by Samoans, will be available from that period. But there are other ways to find the perspectives of forebears but it takes time, and I do this research in my spare time. When I find more historical documents from that period, we’ll let you know.

The New Zealand occupation of Samoa, 29 August 1914


Information on the New Zealand involvement in the First World War normally consists of the units serving on Gallipoli, the Western Front, Egypt and Palestine.

Less well known is the occupation of Samoa on 29 August 1914, which was the first military action to be performed by the newly established New Zealand armed forces.


New Zealand troops landing in Samoa

New Zealand troops landing in Samoa at Matautu Beach, Apia, Samoa, August 1914. Photograph taken by Malcolm Ross. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, NZ.


Mobilisation of the New Zealand Army

New Zealand’s response to the outbreak of war on 4 August was quick and wholehearted. Compulsory military training had begun in 1912 and had already yielded some 29,500 Territorials and 26,500 senior cadets. In addition, there were 10,000 reservists, or over 66,000 men in all.

The occupation of Samoa, 29th August 1914

No Imperial role for the New Zealand military forces had been decided before the war, but on the night of 6 August 1914, a message from the Secretary of State for War was received by His Excellency the Governor: “If your Ministers desire and feel themselves able to seize the German wireless station at Samoa, we should feel that this was a great and urgent Imperial service …

This was approved next day, and four days later a mixed force of 1,413 1) men plus six nursing sisters was equipped and ready.

New Zealand Expeditionary Force with captured German flag from Samoa.

On the 15 August 1915 the Samoan Advance Force left Wellington, picking up 10 more infantrymen, some naval details, and guides and interpreters at Fiji, and on the 29 August 1915 it landed unopposed at Apia, the main island of Western Samoa.

In March 1915 the Samoan Relief Force of 358 men took over, and by the end of the war another 298 men were supplied to maintain the garrison.

 30-08-2013 12-51-17 a-m- Occupation

The Samoan Advance Force

Colonel Robert Logan 2).

The landing force was commanded by Colonel (temporary) Robert Logan of the New Zealand Army. In 1914, Colonel Logan (1st Regiment Otago Mounted Rifles) was commander of the Auckland Military District; he became full colonel in October 1915.

The infantry element consisted of c.1,000 men from the 3rd (Auckland) Regiment (Countess of Ranfurly’s Own) and the 5th (Wellington Rifles) Regiment.

The force included 4 light guns, probably from the ‘D’ Mountain Battery (Captain Anderson).

The engineer element consisted of a a field company, a railway engineer company (Captain Keenan) and a signals detachment

Further, detachments the New Zealand Medical Corps and New Zealsnd Army Service Corps were included in the Samoan Advance Force.

Troops landing

New Zealand troops in boats crossing Apia Harbour to land. Colonel Fulton can be seen standing in the stern of the foremost boat, photographed by an unidentified photographer. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library.

The naval contribution

The expeditionary force was transported in two ships from the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand 3) – the S/S MOERAKI (4,392 gross tons; built in 1903) and S/S MONOWAI (3,433 gross tons; built in 1890).

The naval contingent, commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir George Patey, consisted of three obsolescent “P” class cruisers – HMS PHILOMEL , HMS PSYCHE and HMS PYRAMUS; joined by HMAS AUSTRALIA, HMAS MELBOURNE and the French cruiser MONTCALM at New Caledonia.

From a contemporary coloured postcard seen for sale on Ebay.

HMS Philomel was a Peal class Third Class Cruiser (1890). A photo of HMS Philomel is found at World War 1 Naval Combat.

HMS Psyche and HMS Pyramus were of the Pelorous class (1900). See Pelorous Class Third Class Protected Cruisers (World War 1 Naval Combat).

HMS PHILOMEL was transferred to the New Zealand Government in 1914 and commissioned at Wellington on 15 July 1914. With its complement augmented by 60-70 New Zealand reservists, the PHILOMEL escorted first the Samoan force and then the main New Zealand Expeditionary Force to Egypt.

Refer to Source 5 for further information on the PHILOMEL, which served in the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy (from 1941 Royal New Zealand Navy) in various capacities until 16 January 1947.

The German colony of Samoa

The Governor’s orderly
of the Fita-Fita,
the Samoan paramilitary
police force. 
Cigarette card No. 96 in
the Waldorf-Astoria series
German Naval and Colonial
Forces. (Source 6)

Samoa became officially a German colony as of 1 March 1900, based on a treaty between Britain, the United States of America and Germany 4).

Unlike most other German colonies, Samoa had no military units, but only a small police force 5).

In 1914 the force consisted of some 30 Fita-Fita (Samoan for paramilitary police constables) and 20-25 local police constables (Landespolizisten), all headed by a German Chief of Police (Polizeimeister).

Native paramilitary police
constable from New Guinea
Cigarette card No. 94 in
the Waldorf-Astoria series
German Naval and Colonial
Forces. (Source 6)

The Fita-Fitas were recruited from sons of native chiefs and influential families; they served mostly as orderlies for Government establishments and as guards. The local police constables served in various native villages and at two police posts, known as Cana and Saluafáta.

Apparently, the Fita-Fita could not to be trusted under all circumstances, since the bolts of their rifles were withdrawn during an internal unrest in 1909.

Paramilitary police from the German colony New Guinea 6) (Kaiser-Wilhelms-Land) as well as a naval landing party were brought in to quell the unrest.

A German naval rating,
equipped for landing party
duties in the tropics.
Cigarette card No. 43 in
the Waldorf-Astoria series
German Naval and Colonial
Forces. (Source 6)

Apia, Samoa, New Zealand naval officers landing with the demand for German surrender, photographed by an unidentified photographer. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library.

Apia, Samoa, New Zealand naval officers landing with the demand for German surrender, photographed by an unidentified photographer. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library.

On the eve of the invasion

The German wireless station on Samoa, which more or less was the reason for the New Zealand operations, opened just weeks before the invasion, on 2 August 1914. Until then, telegrams had to be shipped from New Zealand, including the telegram with the information on the Murder at Sarajevo, 28 June 1914.

The threat of this wireless station must be seen in the context of the German East Asia Squadron 7) based at Tsingtao. The Squadron included the modern cruisers SMS SCHARNHORST, SMS GNEISENAU and SMS NüRNBERG.

When the war broke out, a small number of Germans formed a citizens’ force (Bürgerwehr), consisting c. 50 men, organised in 3 detachments – one guarded the wireless station and the other two took turns serving as coastal guards.

The governor held a council of war with owners of some large plantations, business men and government officials; the conclusion was that any form of military resistance would be meaningless and just lead to unnecessary bloodshed.

The German surrender

In the early hours of 29 August 1914, the Samoan Advance Force steamed closed in on the harbour of Apia; two small steam boats searched the harbour for mines and a small boat, carrying a white flag transported two naval officers to the Bismarck Jetty.

The landing at Apia, Samoa, 29 August 1914. 
From New Zealand in the Great War (Digger History).

The first British Commonwealth officer to land on enemy territory in World War I was Lieutenant Edward Church, paymaster of HMS Psyche, who was instructed to carry the Admiral’s demand for unconditional surrender to the German representatives. 8)

The German Governor, Erich Schultz-Ewerth, had left town to “attend a conference of orators and chiefs“, thus leaving an acting governor to receive the request for surrender. Negotiations commenced, but in the end the Germans had to accept the New Zealand occupation, and did so under protest.

Hoisting the Union Jack, Courthouse, Apia, Samoa, 30 August 1914.

Union Jack August 1914

New Zealand forces hoisting the Union Jack, Courthouse, Apia, photographed on 29 August 1914 by Alfred James Tattersall
When Britain and her allies declared war on Germany in 1914, New Zealand troops landed at Matautu, Apia, on August 29, and peacefully assumed control of German (Western) Samoa. This was the beginning of New Zealand’s 48-year administration of Western Samoa. Source: Alexander Turnbull Library, NZ.

From New Zealand in the Great War (Digger History).

The radio station in Apia was dismantled by the Germans to keep it out of British hands, and the members of the citizens force dismissed themselves.

The Union Jack was hoisted approximately 08:30 on 30 August 1914; the ships’ guns saluted from the harbour.

The New Zealand occupation

Although, the Governor had been promished to be deported to Fiji, he was taken to Auckland, New Zealand as a prisoner of war on 2 September 1914, together with his secretary, Mars, and the director of the wireless station, Hirsch.

My sources to the New Zealand occupation is very anti-New Zealand, but it stands out that the Germans on Samoa was not in any way impressed by the New Zealand troops in their heavy woollen uniforms, more useful for warfare in Europe than in the Southern Pacific. Further, the solders seemed very young and lacking in military training.

At first, the relationship was tolerable but during the next few month, and culminating around Christmas 1914, things turned out rather bad.

In the middle of September 1914 however, the situation changed when the German cruisers SMS SCHARNHORST and SMS GNEISENAU appeared at the mouth of the bay leading to the harbour in Apia. All Germans hoped that the occupation would soon be over, but in the end it turned out that the cruisers had more important things to do, and a message with this statement was delivered to Colonel Robert Logan from the German naval commander, Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee. The German morale sunk accordingly!

According to Source 8, several hundred New Zealand soldiers, bored by having nothing to do on this remote island, broke into some warehouses at the harbour on 26 December 1914 and “liberated” large quantities of alcohol, from which they have been barred since the occupation began.

New Zealand officers attached to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Samoa. From left: Captain Eastwood, Major Pinfold, Colonel Robert Logan, Major Matthew Holmes and Captain Head. Photograph taken by Alfred John Tattersall between 1914-1918.

New Zealand officers attached to the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, Samoa. From left: Captain Eastwood, Major Pinfold, Colonel Robert Logan, Major Matthew Holmes and Captain Head. Photograph taken by Alfred John Tattersall between 1914-1918.

According to Source 9, the situation went quite out of hand, and Colonel Robert Logan had to invent a threat from the German battlecruiser SMS VON DER TANN was observed in the Pacific Ocean heading for Samoa – a situation similar to the appearance of SMS SCHARNHORST and SMS GNEISENAU – in order to regain control of his force. This threat sobered -up the soldiers and they were ordered into the hills surrounding Apia to dig trenches and other fortifications.

In March 1915 the Samoan Relief Force relieved the Samoan Advance Force. This new force consisted of more mature men, many being veterans from the Boer War, and this eased the tension between the Germans and the occupational force.

In conclusion

The New Zealand involvement in Samoa lasted until 1962. After the First World War, Samoa was a New Zealand mandate of The League of Nations 9), and later a trusteeship from the United Nations. In 1962, the former German colony became an independent nation under the name of Western Samoa, from 1997, Samoa.

Many of the young New Zealand soldiers serving with the Samoa Advance Force went to Gallipoli afterwards. Many never came back .