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.
13. The Law Of Sacrifice
You have to give up something in order to get something.
The law of sacrifice is the opposite to the law of line extension. If you want to be successful today, you should give something up.
There are three things to sacrifice: product line, target market, and constant change.
Take the retail industry. Which retailers are in trouble today? The department stores. And what’s a department store? A place that sells everything. That’s a recipe for disaster.
The target is not the market. That is, the apparent target of your marketing is not the same as the people who will actually buy your product. Even though Pepsi-Cola’s target was the teenager, the market was everybody. The 50-year old guy who wants to think he’s 29 will drink the Pepsi.
Good things come to those who sacrifice.
14. The Law Of Attributes
For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute.
It’s much better to search for an opposite attribute that will allow you to play off against the leader. The key word here is opposite - similar won’t do.
Marketing is a battle of ideas. So if you are to succeed, you must have an idea or attribute of your own to focus your efforts around. Without one, you had better have a low price. A very low price.
15. The Law Of Candor
When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
Admit a negative, twist it into a positive.
Candor is very disarming. Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth. Positive statements, on the other hand, are looked at as dubious at best. Especially in an advertisement.
Since you can’t change a mind once it’s made up, your marketing efforts have to be devoted to ideas and concepts already installed in the brain. You have to use your marketing programs to “rub it in.”
You have to shift quickly from the widely accepted negative to the positive. The purpose of candor isn’t to apologise. The purpose of candor is to set up a benefit that will convince your prospect.
16. The Law Of Singularity
In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
History teaches that the only thing that works in marketing is the single, bold stroke. Furthermore, in any given situation there is only one move that will produce substantial results.
Military strategist and author B.H. Liddell Hart calls this bold stroke “the line of least expectation.”
17. The Law Of Predictability
Unless you’re writing your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future.
Good short-term planning is coming up with that angle or word that differentiates your product or company. Then you set up a coherent long term marketing direction that builds a program to maximise that idea or angle. It’s not a long term plan, it’s a long term direction.