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Book Notes -- 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

by Al Ries and Jack Trout

Theme: Focus. 

1. It's better to be first than to be better. 

Create a category you can be first in.

2. If you can't be first in a category, set up a category you can be first in. 

Classic marketing thinking: "How do I get people to prefer my brand?" Forget the brand, think categories. 

If you're already first in a category, promote the category. 

3. It's better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. 

Being first in the market is only important to the extent that it allows you to get in the mind first. 

You can't  change a mind once a mind is made up. Don't waste time. 

4. Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions.

What some marketing people see as the natural laws of marketing are based on a flawed premise that the product is the hero of the marketing program and that you'll win or lose based on the merits of the product. That's wrong. 

5. The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind. 

IBM: Computer. Hershey's: Chocolate bar. Coke: Cola. Xerox: Copier. Volvo: Safety. Apple: Design? Amazon: Shipping. BMW: Driving. Norstrom: Service. Pepsi: Youth. Coffee: Starbucks. 

Thought: Maybe more accurate to say Starbucks owns "convenient coffee." 

The most effective words are simple. They can be related to: benefits, services, audience, etc. 

The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. 

You can't narrow the focus with quality of any other idea that doesn't have proponents for the opposite point of view. E.g.: You can't position yourself as the honest politician, but you can be the pro-business or pro-labor politician. You have to choose. 

6. Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect's mind. 

Don't waste time if someone else owns the word. 

7. The strategy you us depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder. 

Avis is the classic: We try harder. 

It was successful because it related itself to the position of Hertz in the mind of the prospect. 

Before starting a program, ask: 

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.

8. In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race. 

9. If you're shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader. 

In strength, there is weakness. You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite. 

In this scenario, don't try to be better, try to be different. 

Beck's (vs Lowenbrau): "You've tasted the German beer that's the most popular in America. Now tast the German beer that's the most popular in Germany."

A good number 2 can't afford to be timid. 

10. 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, as GM did in the early days with Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac, Geo, Saturn.

11. Marketing takes place over an extended period of time. 

12. Line extensions. There's an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand.

Avoid it at almost all costs. 

More is less. The more products, the more markets, the more alliances a company makes, the less money it makes. 

13. You have to give up something in order to get something. 

There are three things to sacrifice: product line, target market, and constant change.

FedEx sacrificed everything but "overnight" (for a while).

Pepsi sacrificed everything but "youth."

The target is not the market. 

White Castle is White Castle is White Castle. 

14. For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute.

Don't emulate, go opposite. 

15. When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.

"Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars." 

"With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good." 

"The 1970 VW will stay ugly longer." 

Listerine: The taste you hate twice a day.

So why go with the obvious? Marketing is often a search for the obvious.

16. In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.

The only thing that works in marketing is the single bold stroke. 

17. You can't predict the future.

Good short-term planning is coming up with that angle r word that differentiates your product or company. Then you set up a coherent long-term marketing direction that builds a program to maximize that idea or angle. It's not a long term plan, it's a long term direction. 

18. Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure. 

When he was at GM, Ross Perot spent his weekends visiting dealers and buying cars. 

19. Failure is to be expected and accepted.

20. The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press.

21. Successful programs are not built on fads, they're build on trends.

22. Without adequate funding, and idea won't get off the ground.