This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
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Have you ever wondered if there are fundamental marketing principles that can be followed by anyone that allows them to create winning companies? Two of the world's most renowned marketing consultants and authors came together to try to outline them and turned it into a book that is a masterpiece for all those who want to work in the field. Al Ries and Jack Trout in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing have captured a compendium of best practices for the ultimate success of the modern marketer. Violate these laws, and you will be out of the market. Should we begin?
Being the first in a market is better than having a better product than the competition. People tend to remember who was the first man on the moon or the first aviator, but no one remembers who was the second. Heineken was the first imported beer in the United States and continues today to be number 1. The same goes for Miller, the first light beer on the American market. By the way, being first does not help if the product or idea is not good.
Given the difficulty of leading a category whose competition already exists, it is better to create a new category of products and position your product in it. The category does not have to be brutally different, but if there is a leader in the current category, create a variation where you can be unique. In the example of the "imported beers" category, Heineken can be a leader, but you can be a leader in the "light imported beers" category, for example. You may not be the first man to step on the moon, but you may be the first woman to step on the moon.
More important than being number 1 on the market, is being number 1 in the minds of consumers. Being the pioneer of a market helps, after all, there is no competition for the minds of consumers. But, since the consumer is predisposed with a brand, it is very difficult to change it. To be successful without spending a lot of money on buying advertising, your goal is to find as many minds as possible yet without a formed opinion and work hard to form them.
Marketing is not about products, their features, and their qualities but about people's perceptions about that product. There is no truth, and what we call truth is a perception that people create in their minds. In Japan, the biggest automaker is Honda, but in the US market, it is only in third place, behind Toyota and Nissan. If the quality of a car is the most important to the consumer, the leader should be the same in both markets. The curious point is that in Japan, Honda is renowned for its motorcycles. Therefore, the focus of marketing should always be directed at changing perceptions.
The most powerful thing that exists in marketing is to own a word in the consumer's mind. Holding a specific context ensures that when people are exposed to this word, they connect it with the brand that owns the word. Shaving blades are synonymous with Gillette. Computers are synonymous with IBM and Google means researching something.
Complementing the law of focus, it is impossible to take the word of another company. Burger King tried to own the word "fast" but it was already McDonald's, and so they failed and spent millions. If a competitor already owns a phrase or word, do not try to use it but find something different and unique. If you try to steal the phrase or word of your rival, your marketing efforts end up strengthening the position of your competitor.
Imagine the market as a ladder inside the consumer's head. The first step is the market leader; the second is the second placed and so on. Your marketing strategy depends on the step you take on the market ladder. In some product categories, the ladder may have seven rungs, and you need to know it to build your strategy. An efficient approach realistically matches your current position with reasonable investments. The American company Avis was the number two in the rental market vehicles and as announced with the slogan "the best in car rentals," they were losing money because people did not believe in the campaign. They now have greater profits when they took their second position and adopted the slogan "We try harder", which characterized them in a manner befitting their position.
In the long run, all marketing battles become about with only two competitors. Think McDonalds & Burger King. Nike & Reebok. There will always be two brands struggling to win a category. Companies that do not dominate their market should strive to establish themselves as the number 2 if they want to be successful in the long run.
If you fight for second place, your strategy is set by the leader. Turn your strengths into weaknesses. Do not try to be better and chase the opposite of him. If Coca-Cola is the company of the masses, Pepsi decides to take off being "The choice of the new generation". In this way, you steal the attention of other competitors, after all, most people tend to fall between "the old trusted brand" and the "new brand that has arrived."
Over time, most categories fall into many segments, and each begins to act as an independent category. Cars started as a single category, and today there are sports cars, luxury cars, utilities, etc. Often companies do not understand this and believe that divisions are combining, investing in synergy. Leading brands maintain their dominance by attacking new categories with new brands. When Honda tried to hit the luxury market, for example, it created a new brand, Acura.
Marketing results can only be appreciated in the long run. It is a mistake to sacrifice long-term planning to improve short-term outcomes. Raising sales in the short term through the use of rebates can be positive for the company cashier, but educates consumers to buy when deals occur, and this reduces profits in the long run.
Companies tend to give in to the temptation to expand a brand of success to unrelated areas. When this happens, the company ends up losing its focus and failing, as it starts to try to be everything to everyone, instead of focusing on what it knows how to do. In marketing, more is less. The more products a company has, the lower the profits for each one. And also less is more: the smaller the niche a brand wants to occupy, the higher its position in the minds of consumers within that focal area.
You need to focus on conquering something important. Companies that try to do everything end up failing. To progress, a company should not:
Offer a complete and diversified product line;
Focus on expanding a brand in unrelated areas;
Change strategy constantly;
If a company is not prepared to make such sacrifices, it will never win.
For each attribute used in marketing by one company, there is an opposite attribute that the other can use effectively. The reason for this tactic is obvious. It is challenging to win by replacing market leaders; So you should focus on serving any segment of the market that the leader ignores. In this segment, there will always be enough space.
Admit something wrong in your marketing and consumers will accept it positively. That works by being unexpected and opens up the audience to your message. Smart companies admit marketing failures and then turn them into something positive. The prospect should feel instantly in agreement with your apology. Otherwise, you will cause confusion.
In every marketing situation, there is always a movement that will bring substantial success. Tuning an inefficient strategy does not return results. Working a little harder in executing an inefficient tactic does not produce results. In almost every situation, there is an option that will bring excellent results. The challenge is to find this option and explore it. Competitors will have a weakness.
Trying to anticipate the plans of the competition is impossible, and their reaction can never be anticipated. Study general trends, but avoid drawing unfounded conclusions or overstating the facts. You should also avoid betting that the future will be a repetition of the past. Just plan what to do should something unexpected happen and make your plans flexible to respond to market dynamics.
Success leads to arrogance, which leads to failure. Success tends to take objectivity away from marketers. You have to be careful to avoid early success and failure in the future. Good specialists separate their ego from their work and do not impose their point of view on others, but try to put themselves in the shoes of their clients. Good people think and react the way the consumer would do when faced with an offer from their brand. An interesting example is when Ken Olsen, a successful executive at DEC, was introduced to personal computing. His success prevented him from seeing potential in that product, and DEC never participated in the personal computing revolution.
Failure in marketing should be expected and accepted. In marketing, it is better to admit mistakes on time instead of letting the situation continue indefinitely. No one in marketing will ever get it right. An interesting example: once the mouthwash Listerine was attacked by the competitor called Scope. They claimed in the campaign that the taste of Listerine was terrible and theirs was better. Listerine answered the pitch, with the campaign "The taste you hate, 2 times a day". That has caused consumers to consume more Listerine, and the company has won.
The actual situation with any marketing plan is often the opposite of what is reported in the press. When sales are weak, companies give interviews and say they are OK. When they are strong, companies are silent. Do not believe in articles generated by press services and pay attention to the small hidden details of what is happening in the market. There is a big difference between attracting public attention and revolutionizing the market. Some of the greatest hits in history, such as PC and fax, had very slow sales in the beginning and attracted little press coverage, and some of the more exaggerated concepts, such as the videophone and the Segway, failed.
Successful marketing plans follow trends, do not follow fads. Fads are short-term occurrences and trends are long-term changes. When a company accelerates too much and starts working with fads, it fails.
Good ideas did not take off without the proper resources. Even the best professional in the world will not get very far if they do not have the resources to reach out to the client. You need to invest money to get there and even more, money to fix yourself in the minds of consumers.
Understanding the principles that guide the consumer mind is critical to success in the modern world. Marketing is a constant struggle for a piece of the mind and the customer's attention, so you must understand how you can shape these perceptions and what perceptions and minds you should attack. Many marketers want to be number one or emulate what the leader does, but in most cases, this is not the best way. Follow immutable laws, and you will have a winning strategy.
12min tip: Speaking of marketing, how about checking out our Epic Content Marketing microbook?
Al Ries is a professional and author of marketing. He is also the co-founder and president of Atlanta-based Ries & Ries consulting firm with his partner and daughter Laura Ries. The author graduated from DePauw University in 1950 and accepted a position with General Electric's publicity department before founding his own advertising agency in New York City in 1963. The agency switched to a marketing strategy company Trout & Ries. Ries was selected as one of the most influential people in the field of public re... (Read more)
Trout began his commercial career in the advertising department of General Electric. From there, he became a divisional advertising manager for Uniroyal. He then joined Al Ries in the advertising agency and marketing strategy firm, where they worked together for over twenty-six years. He was the founder and president of the international marketing strategy company "Trout and Partners." The company is represented in offices in many countries around the world, including emerging markets. Trout has worked with several companies including AT & T, A... (Read more)
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