The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout is one of my favourite marketing books.
First published in 1994, this short book reminds us that principles are timeless and equally effective across generations.
I'm publishing my notes from the key chapters as a series of blog posts. If you would like a pdf of all notes together, email me and I'll send it to you.
Here is a link to the first post in the series, which covers the first 3 laws (Leadership, Category, Mind).
4. The Law of Perception
Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions.
It’s an illusion. There is no objective reality. There are no facts. There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.
5. The Law of Focus
The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.
Not a complicated word. Not an invented one. You “burn” your way into the mind by narrowing the focus on a single word or concept.
If you’re not the leader, then your word has to have a narrow focus. Even more important, however, your word has to be “available” in your category. No one else can have a lock on it.
The word - simple and benefit orientated.
The halo effect - if you strongly establish one benefit, the prospect is likely to give you a lot of other benefits too. (E.g. A “safer” car implies better design and engineering)
Words come in different varieties. They can be benefit -elated (cavity prevention), service-related (home delivery), audience-related (younger people), or sales-related (preferred brand).
The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.
[Joe additional note: this is similar to Richard Koch's (author of the 80/20 Principle and multi-millionaire investor) argument in his book, Simplify. He argues that the best high growth businesses are star businesses as detailed in the business strategy tool the BCG Matrix. He argues that the best star businesses are either price-simplifiers (IKEA, McDonald's), or proposition-simplifiers (Apple, Bain & Co).
6. The Law of Exclusivity
Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.
Despite the disaster stories, many companies continue to violate the law of exclusivity. You can’t change people’s minds once they are made up. In fact, what you often do is reinforce your competitor’s position by making its concept more important.
7. The Law of Ladder
The strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder.
Avis acknowledged their position on the ladder. “Avis is only No.2 in rent-a-cars. So why go with us? We try harder”
The mind is selective. Prospects use their ladder in deciding which information to accept and which to reject. In general, a mind accepts only new data which is consistent with its product ladder in that category. Everything else is ignored.
Products that are purchased infrequently (furniture, lawn mowers, luggage) usually have few rungs on their ladders.
Products that involve a great deal of personal pride (automobiles, watches, cameras) are also high-interest products with many rungs on their ladders even though they are purchased infrequently.
Where are we on the ladder in the prospect’s mind? On the top rung? On the second rung? Or maybe we’re not on the ladder at all.
Then make sure your program deals realistically with your position on the ladder.
8. The Law of Duality
In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.
Furthermore, the law predicts that the leader will lose market share and No.2 will gain.
Knowing that marketing s a two-horse race in the long run can help you plan strategy in the short run (e.g. by instead carving out a profitable niche)