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.
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)
9. The Law Of Opposite
If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader.
In strength there is weakness. Wherever the leader is strong, there is an opportunity for a would-be no.2 to turn the tables.
You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite. (In other words, don’t try to be better, try to be different.) It’s often the upstart versus old reliable.
When you look at customers in a given product category, there seem to be two kinds of people. There are those who want to buy from the leader and there are those who don’t want to buy from the leader. A potential No.2 has to appeal to the latter group.
In other words, by positioning yourself against the leader, you take business away from all the other alternatives to No.1.
Too many potential No.2 brands try to emulate the leader. This is usually an error. You must present yourself as the alternative.
But don’t simple knock the competition. The law of the opposite is a two-edged sword. It requires honing in on a weakness that your prospect will quickly acknowledge. (One whiff of Listerine and you know that your mouth will smell like a hospital.) Then quickly twist the sword. (Scope is the good tasting mouthwash that kills germs).
Marketing is often a battle for legitimacy. The first brand that captures the concept is often able to portray its competitors as illegitimate pretenders.
10. The Law Of Division
Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
The way for the leader to maintain its dominance is to address each emerging category with a different brand name.
11. The Law Of Perspective
Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time.
12. The Law Of Line Extension
There’s an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand - this is usually a bad idea and leads to losses.
When you try to be all things to all people, you inevitably wind up in trouble. “‘I’d rather be strong somewhere, than weak everywhere.”
Invariably, the leader in any category is the brand that is not line extended.
More is less. The more products, the more markets, the more alliances a company makes, the less money it makes.
Less is more. If you want to be successful today, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect’s mind.