Al Rise & Jack Trout – The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Rating: 8/10

Finished: 2017

High Level Thoughts

Short and extremely useful, more books should be written like this. Many counter-intuitive points on how marketing should be done. One of the first books I read that posited that humans aren’t rational. Examples are outdated, but still usable. Some of the laws could use a bit more explanation.


The Law of Leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better
The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.

The Law of Category: If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
There are many different ways to be first. Dell got into the crowded PC field by being the first to sell by phone.
When you launch a new product, the first question to ask is not “how is this product better than the competition?” but “what category is this new product first in?”
Charles Schwab didn’t open a better brokerage firm. He opened the first discount broker.
When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer, not a DEC minicomputer.

The Law of the Mind: It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.
Being first in the mind is everything in marketing. Being first in the market is important only to the extent that it allows you to get in the mind first.
You have to blast your way into the mind. People don’t like to change their minds. Once they perceive you in one way, that’s it. They kind of file you away in their minds as a certain type of person. You cannot become a different person in their minds.

The Law of Perception: Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions.
Most marketing mistakes stem from the assumption that you’re fighting a product battle rooted in reality. All laws in this book are derived from the exact opposite point of view.
Only by studying how perceptions are formed in the mind and focusing your marketing programs on those perceptions can you overcome your basically incorrect marketing instincts.

The Law of Focus: The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.
If you’re not a leader, then your word has to have a narrow focus. Even more important, your word has to be available in your category. No one else can have a lock on it.
The most effective words are simple and benefit oriented.
If you strongly establish one benefit, the prospect is likely to give you a lot of other benefits too.
The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.

The Law of Exclusivity: Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.
When a competitor owns a word or position in the prospect’s mind, it is futile to attempt to own the same word.

The Law of the Ladder: The strategy you use depends on which run you occupy on the ladder.
Before starting any marketing program, ask yourself the following questions: Where are we on the ladder in the prospect’s mind? On the top rung? On the second rung? Or maybe we’re no on the ladder at all.
Then make sure your program realistically deals with your position.

The Law of Duality: In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.

The Law of the Opposite: If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader.
You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite.
By positioning yourself against the leader, you take business away from all the other alternatives to no. 1.
There has to be a ring of truth about the negative for it to be effective.
Marketing is often a battle for legitimacy. The first brand that captures the concept is often able to portray its competitors as illegitimate pretenders.
A good no. 2 can’t afford to be timid.

The Law of Division: 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.
Companies make a mistake when they try to take a well known brand name in one category and use the same name in another category.

The Law of Perspective: Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time.

The Law of Line Extension: There’s an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand.
When you try to be all the things to all people, you inevitably wind up in trouble.

The Law of Sacrifice: You have to give up something in order to get something.
There are three things to sacrifice: product line, target marketing, and constant change.
The target is not the market. The apparent target of your marketing is not the same as the people who will actually buy your product.
If you try to follow the turns and twists of the market, you are bound to wind up off the road. The best way to maintain a consistent position is not to change it in the first place.

The Law of Attributes: For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute.

The Law of Candor: When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth.
Since you can’t change a mind once it’s made up, your marketing efforts have to be devoted to using ideas and concepts already installed in the brain.
First, your negative must be widely perceived as a negative. Next, you have to shift quickly to the positive.

The Law of Singularity: In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
To find that singular idea or concept, marketing managers have to know what’s happening in the market. They have to be down at the front in the mud of the battle.

The Law of Unpredictability: Unless you write your competitor’s plans, you can’t predict the future.
Good short-term planning is coming up with that angle or 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.
While you can’t predict the future, you can get a handle on trends, which is a way to take advantage of change.
One way to cope with an unpredictable world is to build an enormous amount of flexibility into your organization.

The Law of Success: Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance leads to failure.
The bigger the company, the more likely it is that the CEO has lost touch with the front lines.

The Law of Failure: Failure has to be expected and accepted.
Admitting a mistake and not doing anything about it is bad for your career.. A better strategy is to recognize failure early and cut your losses.

The Law of Hype: The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press.
When things are going well, a company doesn’t need the hype. When you need the hype it usually means you’re in trouble.
Real revolutions arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and sneak up on you.

The Law of Acceleration: Successful programs are not built on fads, they’re built on trends.
A fad is a wave in the ocean, and a trend is the tide. A fad gets a lot of hype, and a trend gets very little.
A fad is very visible, but it goes up and down in a hurry. A trend is almost invisible, but it’s very powerful over the long term.
By dampening a fad, you stretch it out and it becomes more like a trend.
One way to maintain a long-term demand is to never totally satisfy the demand.

The Law of Resources: Without adequate funding an idea won’t get off the ground.
You need money to get into a mind. You need money to stay in the mind once you get there.
You’ll get further with a mediocre idea and million dollars than with a great idea alone.