The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
Author: Al Ries
Publisher: Harper Business
Published: 4/27/1994
There are laws of nature, so why shouldn't there be laws of marketing? As Al Ries and Jack Trout—the world-renowned marketing consultants and bestselling authors of Positioning—note, you can build an impressive airplane, but it will never leave the ground if you ignore the laws of physics, especially gravity. Why then, they ask, shouldn't there also be laws of marketing that must be followed to launch and maintain winning brands?

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing By. Al Ries & Jack Trout

Key Insights

The game of marketing is all about the perception of a business, brand, or product.

Companies, however, fail to always see this. They will spend millions and millions of dollars trying to vamp an old product when instead all they really had to do was change people’s perspectives about the product!

“Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.”― Al Ries

In, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing,” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, you will learn how to use marketing as a tool to change people’s perspectives in order to make your competitor look weak and to make your brand strong.

Key Points

  • Get Your Product to the Market ASAP

Your company’s success depends on how fast you can get your product to the market. To do this, you must make a very good first impression.

To make an impression on the market, you must get creative. You must make your product seem different from other products that are out there. This will make it seem like an innovative product, even if it’s not! Perception is everything!

When your product is the ‘first’ of its kind, it will automatically be a market leader.

And, when a company is a market leader, it will automatically come to a customer’s mind when they think of that market.

When you are the leader of the market, you have a definite advantage because a customer’s mind is hard to change once it has made a decision. But, why is this?

“You want to change something in a computer? Just type over or delete the existing material. You want to change something in a mind? Forget it.”― Al Ries

It’s because brands have such high recognition when they are the first. For example, Purell is a known hand-sanitizer, just like Kleenex is a known tissue brand. Oftentimes, people will ask for the name brand, rather than the product.

Having a catchy name brand is important too! Think Apple or Google. They are short and sweet.

  • Create Your Own Product Category

So, if it’s impossible for you to be a leader in an already established market, then create your own!

When you create a new category, you will be first in the category automatically, so you are giving yourself the upper-hand.

And, by starting your own category, you will eliminate potential competition, at least until people start to infiltrate your new category.

If you do not want to create your own category but join an existing one, use the Law of the Opposite to your advantage. This law states that you should look at the leader in the market, observe their strengths, and make them come off as weaknesses.

While doing that you must also paint the positives of your company in comparison to the market leader.

  • Try “Owning” A Word

A good company logo will do wonders for your business.

For example, Google owns the word “google”. It is not just the name of their brand, it is now an adjective people use when they go to search something on the internet.

Use the Law of Focus to get a customer to buy your product by using a catchy word.

“With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” Most companies, especially family companies, would never make fun of their own name. Yet the Smucker family did, which is one reason why Smucker’s is the No.1 brand of jams and jellies. If your name is bad, you have two choices: change the name or make fun of it.”― Al Ries

If your company successfully begins to “own” a word, that is the company that will come to mind when products in your market are being discussed. Short catchy logos and words stick to a person’s mind.

The Law of Exclusivity states that you should not use words that are already being used by another company. This will cause confusion and also hinder your brand from sticking out from the crowd or being recognizable.

  • Less is More

Customers love choices, but it’s important to understand that less is more.

The Law of Sacrifice states that in marketing you must give something up in order to be successful.

For example, giving up a handful of products in order to make one more successful is a sacrifice that will get you to the top of your market.

Companies that focus on limited products usually are at the top of their market; Think Nike and Apple.

Companies should also limit their target demographic. They should be focused on a specific audience in order to reap the best results.

The Law of Division states that every market will be split up into different categories over time. So, in order to stay relevant, each brand must have a specific brand name.

  • The Three Brand-Killers

There are three factors that can kill a brand:

  1. Blind Arrogance
  2. False Predictions of the Future
  3. The Belief of Infallibility

To expand on this, brands who are successful may begin to act arrogant as they are the top-dogs.

The Law of Success states that arrogant leaders of a company can lead the company to make bad decisions. This is because being a top-dog, they have gained blindspots and cannot see their flaws and mistakes.

The Law of Unpredictability touches on the factor of false predictions of the future. It states that strategies that are based on predictions of the future are often ineffective.

Big marketing expenses and decisions should not be based on predictions that may or may not come true.

The Law of Failure explains that mistakes are inevitable. You cannot avoid risks. Rather, you should take them knowing that failure is possible.

  • Admit Your Wrongs

A huge reason customers keep coming back to certain products and companies is because they trust them.

The Law of Candor states that if you make a mistake, own up to it! Your customers will appreciate it.

Another law to pay attention to is the Law of Hype. The Law of Hype states that just because there is a lot of buzz around a specific company or product, doesn’t mean it’s all it’s “hyped” up to be!

Hype can be a noisy form of distraction and it can often be misleading. Just because there is a lot of hype surrounding a product does not automatically mean it will become a market leader. Only time will tell.

The Main Take-Away

Understanding the laws of marketing is essential for a company’s success. Marketing is all about perception rather than products. So, base your marketing campaigns on the perception of your audience, rather than your product.


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