22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

#1: Law of leadership
#2: Law of category
#3: Law of mind
#4: Law of perception
#5: Law of focus
#6: Law of exclusivity
#7: Law of the ladder
#8: Law of duality
#9: Law of opposite
#10: Law of division
#11: Law of perspective
#12: Law of extension
#13: Law of sacrifice
#14: Law of attributes
#15: Law of candor
#16: Law of singularity
#17: Law of predictability
#18: Law of success
#19: Law of failure
#20: Law of hype
#21: Law of acceleration
#22: Law of resources

Tim Ferriss recommended a great marketing book on his video blog this month called 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Jack Trout and Al Ries. I decided to grab it used off abebook.com for $5 and have a go at it.

big0the 22 immutable laws of marketing

This is my summary of the 22 immutable laws of Marketing:

#1: Law of Leadership

law of leadership

It is better to be first than to have a better product or service. Even when you are second with a better product, you will not be better in the people’s mind.

Example from the book:

You can always find out who the leading company of a market is by substituting leading for first. Let say you didn’t know the name of the first college founded in America. What’s the leading college in America today? Most people would say Harvard, which is also the first college in America.

#2: Law of Category

Law of category

Be first in a new category created by your product or service. Being first in a niche market is considered being a leader in a category. When you are first in a new category, you have no competition.

Example from the book:

Dell is the first to sell computers by phone. Lear’s is the first magazine for mature woman.

#3: Law of Mind

It is more important to be first in the people’s mind than first in the marketplace. You have to get into the people’s mind that your product is the first in the category. Otherwise, you would be forgotten. People usually don’t change their mind once they see your product in one way. Getting into the people’s mind with a loud bang is important for them to remember your product.

#4: Law of Perception

law of perception

In Marketing, perception is king. How a person perceives your product and service will ultimately be the truth in their mind. In other words, truth is nothing more than an expert’s perception.

Example from the book:

Japanese car manufacturers (Honda, Toyota and Nissan) sell the same cars in US as they do in Japan. If marketing were a battle of products, you would think the same sales order would hold true for both countries. The same quality, styling, horsepower and roughly the same prices should hold true for Japan and US.

However, in Japan, Honda is not the leader. Honda is in third place behind Toyota and Nissan. Toyota sells more than 4 times as many cars in Japan as Honda does. In Japan, people view Honda as a motorcycle manufacturer more so than a car manufacturer.

#5: Law of Focus

To focus your product and service, you need to own a word in the people’s mind about your product.

Example of words attach to the products:

Crest = cavities
Mercedes = engineering
Domino’s = Home delivery
Pepsi Cola = youth

The antidrug crusafe on tv and magazines suffer from a lack of focus. There is no one word driven into the minds of drug users that could begin to unsell the drug concept.

#6: Law of Exclusivity

When a competitors owns a word or position in the prospect’s mind, it is futile to attempt to own the same word.

#7: Law of the Ladder

Use the proper marketing strategy based on the position of your company along with your competitors. If you are not the leader, don’t mention you’re the leader. The mind is selective, it will decide which information to accept and which information to reject. There are usually 7 positions in a person’s mind for a category. The first position usually have twice the market share of the brand below you. For example, the market share percentage for a category should roughly look like this based on the positioning of your company: 50% > 25% > 12.5% > 6.25% > 3.125% > 1.56% > 0.78%

Example from the book:

Sometimes your category may be too small. It may be better to be a small fish in a big pond than to be a big fish in a small pond. In other words, it is sometimes better to be #3 on a big ladder than #1 on a small ladder.

#8: Law of Duality

Law of Duality

The battle of marketing often winds up as a duel between the two major players. For example, PC vs. Mac, Coke vs. Pepsi and Canon vs. Nikon. Third place in a mature market is very difficult to be in. This law predicts that an industry that reach maturity will have less competitors than when the industry first started.

Example fromt he book:

Jack Welch’s quote “Only businesses that are #1 or #2 in their markets could win in the increasingly competitive global arena. Those that could not were fixed, closed, or sold.”

#9: Law of Opposite

Law of Opposite

When you look at the customer for a category, there are only two types:  those that will buy from the leader and those who don’t want to buy from the leader. You must present yourself as an alternative when you are #2 in a market. When you do that, position your product as a solution to the leader’s weakness. For example, Pepsi is viewed as the cola for younger generation. You cannot copy the leader if you are to be viewed as an alternative. Use the leader’s weakness against them.

As a product gets old, it often carries negative baggage.  However, when you present their weakness in a negative way, there must be a ring of truth to it.

Marketing is a battle of legitimacy. When the first brand captures the concept, it will make its competitors look like illegitimate pretenders. That is why when you are #2, you can not be timid. You must always attack the leader. Or else, the companies below you will catch up to you.

#10: Law of Division

A category will always divide into two or more segments. Each segment is a separate and distinct entity with its own reason for existence and its own leader.

it is better to be early than late when you are creating a category. You cannot get into the prospect’s mind first unless you are prepared to spend some time waiting for things to develop.

#11: Law of Perspective

In marketing, the short term gain seems to always outweigh the long term gain.

Many marketing movies exhibit the same phenomenon as Alcohol. Alcohol creates a stimulating effect early on. At the end of the night, alcohol takes a turn a become a depressant. In other words, the long term effects are often the exact opposite of the short-term effects.

Example from the book:

Couponing increases sales in the short run. Many companies find that they need a quarterly dose of couponing to keep sales .

#12: Law of Extension

Law of extension

Line extensions can saturate the main product. It is better to specialize in on product than expanding into many different markets. When you are trying to be all things to all people, you will wind up in trouble.

Why does top management believe that line of extension works? short term gain and brand loyalty.

Less is more.

Example from the book:

In 1991, IBM expended into everything and made revenues up to $65 billion dollar. However, the overwhelming expenses from all of their product segments cost IBM to lose $2.8 billion dollar that year ($68.5 billion dollar in expenses).

Examples of past line extensions that did not work:

Ivory Shampooo
Life Savers Gum
Bic pantyhose
Chanel for men
Tanqueray Vodka (known for their Tanqueray Gin)
Coors water
Heinz baby food

#13: Law of Sacrifice

You have to give up something in order to get something. Sacrificing product line, target market and constant change to gain a better product.

Product line: Sacrifice line extension to specialize in your product.

Target Market: Focus on one target market to attract everyone. For example, Marlboro marketed to cowboys only, but everyone smokes their brand. Narrow your target in your marketing campaign and it will expand itself onto everyone.

Change: Do not change your product’s brand. Sacrifice constant changes to be stable. Follow company philosophy.

#14: Law of Attributes

Marketing is a battle of ideas. You must have an idea or attribute of your own to focus your efforts.

#15: Law of Candor

To get into the prospect’s mind, you can first try to admit a negative and then twist it into a positive. When a company starts a message by admitting a problem, people tend to, almost instinctively, open their minds. Most often, you have to prove a positive statement, wheras, a negative statement will never need reinforcement.

Careful considerations must be taken when using the law of candor. First, your negative statement must be widely perceived as a negative. Do not confuse the prospect. The shift to the positive must be done very swiftly. The purpose of candor is not to apologize, it is to set up a benefit that will convince your prospect.

Honesty is the best policy.

Examples of using negative to bring in your positive attributes:

“Avis is only #2 in rent-a-cars.” They must try harder
“Joy, the most expensive perfume in the world.” If people are willing to pay $375 an ounce, it must be a sensational perfume.
“Listerine. The taste you hate twice a day”. Anything that tastes like disinfecant must be a germ killer.

#16: Law of Singularity

In marketing, the try harder = better result approach is flawed. Marketing campaign must focus its attack on the line of least expectation.

#17: Law of Predictability

Law of Predictability

The pitfall of working with trends is extrapolation. Many companies jump to conclusions about how far a trend will go. Also, many companies assume the future will be a replay of the present. You cannot assume that nothing will change.

To cope with the unpredictable, a company need to be able to have the flexibility to change quickly; to react to trends.

There is a difference between “predicting” the future and “taking a chance” on the future.

#18: Law of Success

This law dictates how a company should act when it is successful. But most successful companies tend to become arrogant and commit anything they want because their brand names are so big that they cannot fall.

If you are the CEO, it is not always possible to get an honest opinion from your staffs. Thus, the CEO needs to go into the front line in disguised or unannounced.

#19: Law of Failure

Recognize your mistakes early and cut your losses. But don’t make the same mistakes twice.

Taking risks are often neglected when staffs are climbing the corporate ladder. The company must identify staffs that take chances to bring success to the company.

#20: Law of Hype

When things are going well, the company doesn’t need hype. Press release often means you are in trouble.  Hype is hype. Real revolution happens unannounced.

#21: Law of Acceleration

Law of Acceleration

Fad is like a wave and trend is like the tide. Fad gets a lot of hype and wave gets very little. Fad is short term phenomenon that doesn’t last long enough. It is better to dampen fad to make them like trends.

#22: Law of Resources

You need money to make your great idea a reality. Marketing comes when you have enough initial funding to jumpstart your idea. You need money to get into a mind and you need money to stay in the mind once you get there.

Example from the book:
In the 90’s GM was in a turmoil because of two strong moves. The Japanese companies, Toyota, Honda and Datsun, came with low end small cars and the Germans, Mercedes, BMW, came with high end cars. At this point, GM made the fatal mistake of making all their cars look alike. No one can really tell the differences between Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick.


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