Something up front – I am not a marketer and I have not worked one day in a marketing department in my life. I do understand the meaning and necessity of marketing and I am aware of its overall relevance in operating a successful business.
And therefore I thought that maybe my studies in this field and the results could be shared with all of you. There are heaps of books and courses on marketing out there but in this article I want to highlight the laws of marketing as described by Al Ries and Jack Trout in the book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!” and a few of my own thoughts to them.
1 – Law of Leadership
This does not account for social leadership but focuses on the fact that the first product or service of its kind to hit market often wins and with continuous effort spent in keeping this position and innovating itself, this leadership position can be maintained for a very long time.
2 – Law of Category
If you manage to create a new category with your product, you will be directly the first who offers the only of its kind. Think Apple for instance – there were portable mp3 players before the iPod, but both iPhone and iPad established new categories of consumer electronics. Tech enthusiasts might argue that, as there were devices with similar or equal functionalities before the Apple products hit the market, but those never reached the masses.
3 – Law of the Mind
One of your goals should be to be the first solution that comes to mind when a user or customer thinks about your niche in the industry. You want to be the Kleenex of tissues and the Xerox of photo copy systems.
4 – Law of Perception
Marketing is not the battle of facts, it is more like the battle of perception. A buy decision of a customer is based on his or her perception. If they think your product is the best for whatever reason, they are most likely going to buy it or support it in conversation.
5 – Law of Focus
To gain your target group’s attention you need to establish a brand on a particular style, feeling or advantage. Find that word and own it!
6 – Law of Exclusivity
If you look at the law of focus above, you need to make sure you find your own word and stay away from anything that would resemble the feeling and style that defines your competition. If you’re techy, be the hardcore geek. If you’re concentrating on style then don’t try to advertise a swiss army knife.
7 – Law of the Ladder
Depending on your market it might be economically more viable to own a particular segment fully rather than fighting for a mediocre positioning across several segments.
8 – Law of Duality
Over time every market will become a race between two major players. There might be third parties (which are usually companies very well established in other segments) that try to hijack the race but usually only two keep racing in the long run.
9 – Law of the Opposite
If you didn’t manage to be the first to hit the market you can still compete with the market leader. If you analyse the target audience of your competition you might see patterns in behaviour or maybe in attitude of their customers. Now you need to find the sceptical audience as next step. Those are the potential customers that think like “..yeah, that’s cool, BUT…”. Find that “but” and make your product their weapon of choice. Think iOS versus Android for instance.
10 – Law of Division
The law of division is not to be mistaken as a step of diversification. It describes that sooner or later any product category will split into sub-categories if innovation and development is continuously facilitated.
11 – Law of Perspective
There are many marketing effects that take shape over a long period of time. Short term actions are definitely relevant to get the word out about a particular product release or a similar event, but each new solution and every iteration of a product should altogether aid the overall long term reputation of your brand.
12 – Law of Extension
Brands with a strong focus on increasing their profitability sometimes feel the urge to diversify and extend their portfolio beyond their core solution that made them successful. Sometimes this works out but often the extended products do not fit with the “feeling” and mission statement of the company. You will have a hard time selling chocolates if your brand is well known for producing shoes. What they then can do is to split the company and create a subsidiary that represents a new brand. Recent examples of something similar to that happening (next to other benefits) was the event of Google transforming its controlling body to be known as Alphabet.
13 – Law of Sacrifice
Generalists have a tough competition, especially when they are new to the market. Sometimes, in order to be successful, you need to consider to give up on some dimensions of your portfolio and focus on what you’re really the best at. Diversification is a subject for a later stage of your enterprise. Your start-up is not born to succeed with a range strategy similar to the one of Samsung.
14 – Law of Attributes
Know what attributes you are known for or control what you are known for. For every attribute the competition might be known for, there is an opposing attribute that might be suitable for your own brand.
15 – Law of Candor
In the TV show “South Park” this was previously labeled as “The Bill Clinton Strategy”. If something bad happens, you just admit it openly. You prepare clarity and transparency, explain the root cause and also show the steps you are undertaking to prevent any kind of recurrence of the mishap. This is not only lean communication but your true user base will also reward you with a lot of kudos for being honest.
16 – Law of Singularity
This law describes that single, disrupting activities will make a real difference in marketing. Everybody does banner advertising on webpages but think of something unique that will take you to another level.
17 – Law of Unpredictability
You should plan a strategy for short, mid and long term but you shouldn’t carve the long term plan in stone. There are things that move and shake markets that you cannot predict years and years ahead. Stay on top of the news of your industry and redesign the strategy in an agile manner.
18 – Law of Success
If a brand is successful it might become arrogant and think it can sell just about anything with its logo on. You should account for that risk and stay on top of all strategic decisions with the same mindset that you started the brand with.
19 – Law of Failure
Failure is all around us. In order to gain value even from failure we need to learn from the mistakes we make. We should also learn from the mistakes other companies make. There is no such thing as “this could never happen to us because…”.
20 – Law of Hype
Hype can be the best thing to happen to a marketing campaign. However if your product get’s “over-hyped” before you release it to market it will initially draw more negative user experience than ever because customers will be like “I thought it could do x and y and z as well but looks like it can’t..”. You need to control the information that hits the public at all costs. If someone praises you for a feature or a technical spec that you will not deliver – best to clarify it and promise to include that in future product development.
21 – Law of Acceleration
Adobe has put this law in a very funny yet painfully true video recently (“Are you on Woo Woo?“). The law of acceleration preaches that effective marketing is based on long term trends and a sudden disruption with short lifetime should not change a strategy against the trend.
22 – Law of Resources
This is maybe basic but it is all the more relevant. In order to make an impact, any marketing effort has to be funded sufficiently. Sure you can hire a student part-timer to manage all your social media channels, that you have never even heard of, but will it happen with a strategy pursuing a goal or will just “something” happen? Nothing against students here but please put them next to a senior to learn and help, not to be lost and just try something.
I hope you enjoyed these marketing columns along with my thoughts and remarks to them. Regardless of the importance of these fields I am not certain if the term “law” is applicable here as there is no guarantee for something to happen according to these laws. History taught us that there are people and companies that break these rules and are successful regardless of the breach. Clearly this is not the full content of the book of The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing so if you are interested in learning more you should consider buying the book and read it for yourself.
22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – Slides by Graham McInnes