The following is a brief summary of “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, an excellent book that everyone should spend some time with.

22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

1. The law of leadership. It’s better to be first than to be better. Lindberg was the first to fly across the Atlantic. Who was the second person? Washington was the first president. Who was the second? Gatorade was the first sports drink. What was the second?

2. The law of the category. Create a category you can be first in. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better. Promote the category where you have virtually no competition. Forget the brand. Think category. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly over the Atlantic. The category was redefined with “woman.”

3. The law of the mind. It’s better to be first in the prospect’s mind than it is to be first in the market place. Once a mind is made up, it rarely, if ever, changes. Don’t waste money trying to change people’s minds. Apple is easier to remember than names like MITS Altair 8800 and TRS-80.

4. The law of perception. Marketing is not a battle of products, it is a battle of perceptions. All truth is relative.

5. The law of focus. You burn your way into the mind by narrowing the focus to a single word or concept. The leader owns the word that stands for the category. Crest owns cavities. Mercedes owns engineering. Domino’s owns home delivery. Volvo owns safety.

6. The laws 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.

7. The law of the ladder. The strategy depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder.

8. The law of duality. In the long term, every market becomes a two-horse race.

9. The law of the opposite. If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader. In strength there is weakness. Wherever the leader is strong, there is an opportunity for a would-be number 2 to turn the tables. You must present yourself as the alternative to the leader. Don’t imitate the leader.

10. The law of division. Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories. Many companies make the mistake of trying to

11. The law of perspective. Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time. The long-term effects are often the exact opposite of the short-term effects. A sale gets short-term results but trains customers to wait for a sale before buying. A sale-oriented company puts itself on a treadmill that is difficult to get off. Couponing is a drug. It is addictive and painful to get off.

12. The law of line extension. There is an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of a brand. Don’t do it. When companies become successful, they invariably plant seeds for future problems.

13. The law of sacrifice. Opposite of the above law. If you want to be successful, you have to give up something. You can’t be all things to all people. If you chase two rabbits, both with get away. Less is more.

14. The law of attributes. For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute. Pick an attribute opposite to that of the leader or your competitors.

15. The law of candor. When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive. Avis is number 2 – we try harder. Listerine – the taste you hate twice a day.

16. The law of singularity. In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results. A single, bold stroke – the line of least expectation.

17. The law of unpredictability. Unless you write your competitor’s plans, you can’t predict the future. Be flexible. Be open to change. Keep your eye open. Don’t
believe everything you hear or see, or that shows up in market research.

18. The law of success. Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure. Donald Trump is bankrupt. CEO’s should get involved in marketing and delegate other stuff to underlings. CEOs should stay close to the front line. Gorbachev told Reagan, “It is better to see once than to hear a hundred times.”

19. The law of failure. Failure is to be expected and accepted. Recognize failures early and cut your losses. Japanese seem to be better at admitting mistakes and moving on quickly because of their consensus style of managing.

20. The law of hype. The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press. When things are going well, you don’t need hype. When you need the hype, it usually means you’re in trouble.

21. The law of acceleration. Successful programs are not built on fads, they’re built on trends. Fads can be stretched out and milked longer as though they are a trend if the product is not over-hyped. Cabbage Patch Kids were over-hyped. Barbie was not. Elvis greatly limited his exposure.

22. The law of resources. Without adequate funding, and idea won’t get off the ground. Donald Trump’s father was a millionaire. Money makes the marketing world go round. You have to find the money you need to spin those marketing wheels.