Success in marketing isn’t solely about having quality products and deep pockets. Al Ries and Jack Trout’s 1993 book uncovers 22 unchanging laws that govern marketing success. After extensive research, they distilled these laws into six themes:
1. Position as the Top Choice: Convince consumers that your product is their best option within the market.
2. Craft a Unique Message: Create a targeted, unique marketing message.
3. Leverage Market Insights: Understand market behavior and use this knowledge in your marketing strategy.
4. Build Consistency: Position your product as the best in its category and ensure your marketing aligns with this image.
5. Strategic Approach: Develop an overall strategic tone and approach in your marketing plan.
6. Sustain Success: Beyond marketing, focus on organizational health for lasting success.
In essence, these laws reveal the principles that separate marketing success from failure.
Key Laws of Marketing Strategy
In the realm of marketing strategy, several key laws dictate success:
LAW #1: Be the First in Your Field
- Being the first entrant in a market often leads to long-term leadership, even if later arrivals offer superior products.
LAW #2: If You Can’t Be First, Create a New Category
- When you can’t be the first in your market, establish a new category where you can lead.
LAW #3: Be the First Brand in Consumers’ Minds
- Being the first in the market is beneficial, but it’s essential to be the first brand that consumers associate with a product.
LAW #4: Perception Trumps Fact
- Consumers’ perception of your product matters more than its actual quality. Shape perception strategically.
LAW #5: Pick One Word to Define Your Brand
- Center your marketing around a single word that encapsulates the primary message you want customers to associate with your brand.
LAW #6: Don’t Use Another Brand’s Word
- Ensure your chosen word is unique to your brand, as sharing it with competitors weakens your message.
LAW #7: Choose a Highly Valued Attribute
- Opt for a word that aligns with the attribute customers value most in your product. If it’s already claimed, aim for the next-best attribute.
These laws offer crucial insights into effective marketing strategy, emphasizing the significance of establishing a unique and memorable brand identity.
Leveraging Your Market Position
This category of marketing laws provides insight into market behavior and how to harness it in your marketing strategy. Recognizing your place in the market is vital, and these laws guide you on how to maximize your marketing effectiveness.
LAW #8: Message Alignment with Market Position
- If you’re not the market leader, honesty is key. Acknowledge your position in your marketing. Consumers can tell when your message doesn’t align with reality.
LAW #9: The Two-Rung Ladder Phenomenon
- Over time, markets tend to whittle down to two top brands. It’s crucial to secure and maintain a top-two position in your market.
LAW #10: Be the Opposite if You Can’t Lead
- If you can’t be the market leader, don’t imitate them; instead, embody the opposite. Differentiate your brand to appeal to those seeking something different.
Focusing on your product’s positioning and maintaining a consistent approach is essential for consumer trust.
LAW #11: Unique Brand Names for Each Category
- As markets evolve, create distinct brand names for emerging categories. Customers associate the existing brand name with a specific attribute.
LAW #12: Think Long Term
- Consider the long-term effects of your actions, as short-term gains may lead to long-term losses.
LAW #13: Avoid Brand Line Extensions
- Resist expanding your brand into unrelated categories, as it can confuse customers and weaken your brand.
LAW #14: Sacrifice for Success
- To maintain a focused brand, sacrifice unnecessary products, target markets, and constant changes.
Strategic Approach to Marketing
Consider the broader picture of your marketing plan beyond specific messages.
LAW #15: Turn Negatives into Positives
- Acknowledge and reframe negatives into positives, enhancing your brand’s credibility.
LAW #16: Focus on Bold Moves
- Make bold, impactful moves to gain an edge over competitors. Identify and exploit their weaknesses.
LAW #17: Plan for Unpredictability
- Recognize that marketing plans are based on assumptions and plan for short-term and long-term strategies. Short-term plans should focus on setting your brand apart, while long-term plans build on that concept.
Achieving and Maintaining Success
These final laws provide general advice for running your business effectively.
LAW #18: The Need for Adequate Funding
- Regardless of your brilliant idea, successful marketing requires funding. Marketing is an ongoing and costly effort. Even major companies like Procter & Gamble and General Motors invest billions to remain in consumers’ minds.
LAW #19: Embrace Failure
- Expect and embrace failure as an inevitable part of business. It fosters risk-taking, learning from mistakes, and continuous improvement.
LAW #20: Be Cautious of Hype
- Media hype isn’t a reliable predictor of success. Successful companies don’t rely on manufactured excitement, while struggling ones may generate hype when taking risks or introducing new products.
LAW #21: Follow Trends, Not Fads
- Differentiate between trends and fads. Fads are short-lived and may harm your business if invested in. Trends, subtle and long-term, can lead to lasting success.
LAW #22: Guard Against the Pitfalls of Success
- Success can inflate egos and lead to decisions that harm the company.
- Success results in company growth, increasing demands on executives’ time. Large companies may delegate marketing decisions, but top executives’ involvement is crucial for success.
- Distant executives may be out of touch with critical issues, as subordinates hesitate to share hard truths. Staying informed is essential for effective decision-making