The Top 4 Immutable Laws of Marketing

1. The Law Of Leadership.

It’s better to be first than it is to be better. Gillette was the first safety razor, Heineken was the first imported beer in the US and Harvard the first college in the US. And who’s the best in each category? Most would conflate first with best. Moreover, how easy is it to remember the second? Who was the second person to the run the four minute mile after Roger Banister? Who was the second US president after George Washington?*

2. The Law of the Category. 

If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first inAfter seeing the success of Heineken, Anheuser-Busch (owner of Budweiser brand) could launched their own imported beer. But instead they saw that a market for high-priced imported beer could mean there is a market for high-priced domestic beer. So they launched Michelob which outsold Heineken two to one. When you launch a product don’t compare yourself to the competition, but think what category you can be first in. This turns classic brand-oriented marketing thinking on its head. Forget the brand, think categories.

3. The Law Of the Mind. 

It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in  the marketplace. The world’s first mainframe computer was Remington Rand’s UNVAC, but thanks to a massive marketing effort, IBM got to the mind first. This is an important caveat to Law #1. The law of the mind follows from the law of perception. The mind takes precendence over the marketplace. But remember once a mind is made up, it’s very tough to change, so one of the most wasteful forms of marketing it to try to change minds.

4. The Law Of Perception. 

Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions. Marketers obsess over getting the facts, but there is no objective reality. There are no facts. There are no best products. Perception is reality, everything else is illusion. Take cars, in the early 1990s, the best selling Japanese cars in the US were Honda, Toyota and Nissan in that order. But in Japan, where the same cars were sold, the order was Toyota, Nissan and Honda. Why? In Japan, Honda was associated with motorcyles, not cars in the minds of people.

There are 18 more laws, and they are featured in the classic “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Above, I’ve summarised some bits and taken some excerpts from the book.

*John Landy, John Adams

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