5-takeaways: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries and Jack Trout

With over 40 years of marketing expertise between them, Al Ries and Jack Trout have produced the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. For any person or business wanting to sell a product or service give this little book a read, it will pay dividends. There is a multitude of historical examples of marketing going right and it going very wrong, the examples provided are over 20 years old but still help prove Ries and Trout’s unchangeable laws that govern marketing. Here are my takeaways from this little book.

  1. Be first, either in a new category or in the consumer’s mind.

If you are trying to provide a service or product being first is the most important part. Of course, if you can’t be the first you, to succeed you must either create a new category or make it that you are the first in the minds of the consumer. Being the first in the mind usually goes to the first in the marketplace, however, if you can’t make a person perceive you as the company with the best product or service it is much harder to change that opinion. Apple wasn’t the first to the computer marketplace, or mobile phone, for that matter. Why is it one of the largest companies in both fields, well simply, it’s the first thing that people associate to either category. It’s easier to remember the first position holder than it is to remember the second or third. Who’s the second fastest man on earth currently? To be honest I’m not sure. If you can own the first spot either in the category or the mind, then the success of you/the company becomes much easier.

  1. Be focused.

By focusing on one thing, for example, you might own a company that specializes in one thing like engineering. And everyone knows that your company is the top in your field, everyone comes to you for all their engineering needs, as Reis and Trout put it, engineering is “your word”. You start to grow with your success, so you decide to branch out into other fields, let’s say like construction, but there is already a great construction company. So, since you know that you must be first in the client’s mind for construction you spend millions on advertising to try to compete with the competition. However, since you are already associated with being great engineers the could-be-clients don’t recognize you as a great construction company, so no matter how much you spend on advertising your company will never make it into the first spot.

“This was the case with Atari, which owned the words video game. But the business turned out to be faddish – (foresight is 20×20)-, so in 1982 it sailed off in a new direction. It wanted Atari to mean computers. CEO James Morgan laid it all out: “Atari’s strength as a name also tends to be its weakness. It is synonymous with video games. Atari must redefine its image and broaden its business definition to electronic consumer products.”

Of course, we all now know how that played out. Not too great for Atari, if only they focused more on their One Thing, Video Games, then the world of gaming might look incredibly different. Atari’s problem stems from the next point.

  1. Remove your ego.

As we see in the example above Atari’s success went to their heads, and instead of committing to their long-term success, they went to chase the short-term gain. They felt that with their already famous name they could branch out into another category that at the time was already owned by IBM a giant in the computer industry.

“Ego is the enemy of successful marketing.”

Ego causes more problems in all aspects of life than it does correct them. The same can be applied to marketing. You may think that from previous success that you will be able to branch out into another field, this could not be further from the truth. Some companies can do it, such as Apple, however, their words aren’t computers, phones or tablets, its innovation. Because everyone associates them with innovation it allows them to break out into new categories, and as long as they are innovating then they will succeed.

  1. Keep it simple.

“Apple’s problem in getting into its prospects’ minds was helped by its simple, easy-to-remember name. On the other hand, Apple’s competitors had complicated names that were difficult to remember. In the early days, five personal computers were in position on the launching pad: Apple II, Commodore Pet, IMSAI 8080, MITS Altair 8800, and Radio Shack TRS-80. Ask yourself, which name is the simplest and easiest to remember?”

If you are going to market something, don’t make your job any harder than it needs to be. Keep it simple, for example, Apple – “Think Different”, McDonald’s – “I’m Lovin’ It”, Woolworths – “The Fresh Food People”. The list goes on. Simple product, simple slogan, simple marketing, the easier it is to remember the higher chance of getting into and staying in the minds of the consumer. Of course, to keep it simple you must…

  1. Make some sort of sacrifice, to get the things you want.

This ties in with point No.2, Not only must you focus but you must give something up. This not only relates to marketing, but to life. If you want to spend more time with your loved ones, or you want to post more on your blog, you must give something up. I know that I have lapsed on posting regularly recently, I have not prioritized my time well and I have turned my focus to other things, starting a new job being one thing. Sacrifices can be conscious decisions, however, a vast majority of people and companies let their circumstances dictate their attention. If you really want something you must make some sort of sacrifice. Time, money, other products, sleep, food or other hobbies. You want to have a successful product but want to chase other short-term trends to get quick profit, you will lose long-term. You want to become better at jiu-jitsu but also want to spend time at the gym, choose one over the other, or create time for both by making sacrifices in other areas.

These are only my thoughts on the book, I am no marketing expert or claim to have used these laws yet. I recommend anyone in a business of any sort to give it a read as you will benefit from it, either to improve on your product or service and your current marketing strategies. This is only a quick one, hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks for reading.

See you on the mats.

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