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Book Review: 'The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing' by Al Ries and Jack Trout

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No matter how impressive you build your aeroplane, it won’t leave the ground if it ignores the fundamental law of physics that is gravity. Renowned marketing consultants and authors of the seminal Positioning - The Battle for Your Mind, Al Ries and Jack Trout make a compelling case that marketing isn’t physics, nevertheless there are fundamental laws in marketing which when respected increases your propensity for effectiveness. They pose the question, why can’t marketers have a set of laws that help them win and maintain market share? The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is just that book, offering marketers a compendium of 22 immutable laws for succeeding in the marketplace. They explore a variety of laws, such as the Law of Leadership, the Law of the Category, the Law of the Mind and so on. These strategic laws and insights are timeless and continue to inspire millions of marketers around the world in their path to creating and influencing successful products and campaigns. Al Ries and Jack Trout go on to suggest that violating these laws means you’re just playing risk. These 22 Laws are born from decades of marketing research, studied from a variety of marketing success, providing readers with a solid grounding on how to operate, navigate and get ahead in a competitive marketplace. Al Ries and Jack Trout’s Laws aren’t scientific truths, but they provide a great framework to achieve marketing dominance, helping marketers overtake competitors in definitive ways.

Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing establish the idea that if you study successful marketing campaigns throughout time, you discover that they don’t bend to trends and gimmicks, but that they stick to fundamental laws that time and time again work. While you may work off these laws, the laws themselves more or less don’t change and therefore define the marketing landscape. Ries and Trout illustrate their arguments with solid evidence, from real examples of brands and categories, giving readers a great overview of how the laws are indeed true, and that they keep recurring as a common thread across time.

Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing reiterate the value of fundamental needs and desires of people. All successful campaigns begin by uncovering a deep consumer insight, and how that connects with the creation and delivery of the products. By recognising consumer needs and preferences, marketers build strong relationships, loyalty and influence sustainable impact and growth.

Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing explores the importance of differentiation in the marketplace. The Law of Differentiation implies that to stand out, brands must differentiate from competitors in personality and value proposition. This would apply and impact all areas, from innovation to positioning and branding. Being different is a means to stand out, capture attention and gain loyalty for that aspect. One example is M M&M's playfulness as opposed to Hershey’s seriousness. Another essentially law from Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is the Law of Focus. This implies that brands should focus on owning a clear and distinctive word. Like owning that word in people’s mind. Volvo focuses on 'safety'. Harley focusses on 'freedom'. Intel focuses on 'intelligence'. Disney focusses on 'imagination'. And so on.

Al Ries and Trout reiterate the role of positioning and how important it is for marketers to define a clear position in the mindspace of the audience. By positioning a brand in the minds of the audience, marketers are able to shape and shift perceptions and draw in more customers to the brand. A distinct positioning gives the brand insurance from competitors, and comes across as favorable for its distinctiveness. Ries and Trout help readers with the tools to develop strategic positionings to carve out a place in the minds of consumers, and how that influences their place in the category and culture.

Part of a clear positioning strategy is consistency. Ries and Trout help readers recognize the value of consistency across all marketing efforts. They illustrate how successful brands are playing the consistent game, repeating the key message over and over again, and coming across as familiar. These strategies help build brand trust and credibility over time. By focussing on doing things with consistency, the brand values, identity and perception are built cohesive and enduringly, creating a compelling brand experience that people resonate with.

One key concept that Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing puts forward is the ‘first-mover advantage’. The idea is that being the leader, or the first in the market to deliver a new idea or product gives immense strategic advantage. So any brand that establishes the first product effectively becomes the category leader, enjoying significant competitive advantage even over time, when other competitors enter the category. By being first to market, the brand can capture sizable market share before competitors catch up. This is a key lesson that helps marketers understand how and when to launch into, and pursue a category. Some examples are Xerox’s early dominance in photocopiers or Band-Aid’s takeover of the adhesive bandage market. These brands are examples of first movers that own the category. They’ve played to the law of leadership and reaping benefits as a result. Alternative, Ries and Trout introduce the Law of the Category. Which suggests that if you’re not first in the mind, create a new category. Red Bull’s takeover of the energy drink category or FedEx’s value proposition of creating the overnight delivery market are examples of how to dominate categories. Law of the mind beats the law of the market.

Ries and Trout offer compelling strategic insights that inspires marketers to rethink how they pursue marketing. They suggest that marketing is essentially a battle for perception in the minds of the consumers. They book builds on theories from the world of psychology, social science and culture, to expose the power or brand and positioning from a deeper human motivational level. It inspires marketers to think strategically about winning and occupying a unique and memorable space in the customer’s mind. The learning that marketers should focus on shaping how people perceive a brand, not necessarily the absolute truth of the product itself, is a fundamental truth that can help marketers realise their value of their role and what they can control.

Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing is a seminal book on understanding the fundamental laws of marketing, not as science, but as guiding points to get marketing right. It’s a highly endorsed, respected piece of marketing literature that helps readers learn about management, focus, differentiation, positioning, categories and so on. It’s a breezy read and very easy to understand, giving people the foundations no matter if they work in marketing or not. It’s a great checklist for evaluating marketing strategies to make sure they are focussed, different, and work towards establishing or changing people’s perceptions. This book of marketing principles is a must-have for any marketer. Get your copy here:

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