Main lesson of the book: Perception is key to marketing.
Before I get into what I learned from this book, these are the 22 laws or concepts you will need to abide by: Leadership, Category, Mind, Perception, Focus, Exclusivity, the Ladder, Duality, the Opposite, Division, Perspective, Line Extension, Sacrifice, Attributes, Candor, Singularity, Unpredictability, Success, Failure, Hype, Acceleration and finally the Law of Resources. Each one of these has been broken down by the book as to why each one of these needs to be adhered to unless you wish to court failure.
One of the main lessons I learned from this book is that being the first to enter the market means you will have the highest probability of becoming the leader of the market. The goal of any said leader in the market should be to link their brand name to the product they are selling. To the point where the brand name becomes synonymous with it to such a degree it becomes generic. For example Band-Aid, this is the name of a brand for adhesive bandages but it has become so popular whenever you request one would ask for a Band-Aid regardless of the actual brand name that is on the package. This should be the goal for anyone that creates a new market.
Now of course not everyone is lucky enough to break in a new market or be the first to the market. But a lot of companies still want to enter the market and take over the number one spot. The main method by which many people or companies would try to do this is by comparing their product to their competitors and making sure that their product is superior. Most business believe that if their product is superior the customers will obviously pick their product. According to this book that line of thinking is wrong. The key point to marketing isn’t having the best product and telling people that, its about understanding the customers perception of the market and your position within their reality. Reality for everyone is based on their perception of the world around them and how it relates to them. So if a company is the first into the customers mind, that company will have a firm foundation to become the number one brand for the product that is linked to the company. The next company to enter the market will then of course be rated second on the ladder of positions when it comes to brands and so on.
Now of course this has its drawbacks because once a brand enters the customers mind for a certain product they are forever linked to said product. The book gives the example of Atari in reference to this. Atari started as a gaming console company but wanted to enter the personal computer market which was dominated by IBM and Apple and failed miserably because they couldn’t step away from their original position in the customers mind. History is littered with companies who feel that brand name is strong enough to switch from product A to product B forgetting that their brand name is only strong because of the product they are selling. And that brings us to the law of Focus. In this chapter it becomes clear that a lot of companies have this idea that the more they sell, the more will be bought. That is why Coca Cola branched out and started selling clothing, new versions of their drink only to find out that these were extremely costly mistakes. Focusing on what you’re good at is the way to go for a brand. Don’t get deluded by the allure of success.
And because companies have to focus on what they are good it, it allows competitors to step into the market and offer the same product but in a different category i.e. Desktop – Laptop, Electric Shaver – Disposable Razors, Brokerage Firm – Discount Broker. Now if for some reason I wasn’t able to find a different category to create and be the first in I still have the possibility to enter the market with a similar product. But in that case I will be up against the Big Dog which will make me the underdog. And people love rooting for the underdog. So my marketing should be based on my company displaying candor and showing the customers that we know we aren’t the biggest but we are doing our best. Another valid strategy mentioned in the book is creating an opposite position of that of your competitor. Take Pepsi and Coca Cola, McDonalds and Burger King. Pepsi was able to become the second biggest by focusing their brand on the younger generation and thus indirectly telling customers that Coca Cola is for old people. Burger King had an amazing slogan in “Have it your way” which indirectly told customers that McDonald was mass produced and thus not as fresh as BK. Find a way to discredit my competitor while showing my strong point is a valid marketing strategy for a number two in the market.
This was an interesting read that wasn’t necessarily paradigm shifting but still a very interesting point of view on what marketing is and should be. What I really enjoyed was the fact that certain laws are in direct opposition to what I learned in school. Perception of quality, One product instead of diversifying, focus on the brand instead of the numbers, don’t discount your brand for short gains but instead look at the long term consequences.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing was a short read that felt slightly outdated but the points it made still ring true. This was a beautiful introduction into the concept of marketing after I have forgotten most of what I learned in school. The reason I felt I needed to also improve my understanding of marketing is because business and marketing go hand in hand. Setting up a business system is an amazing way to create cashflow that can provide me with financial freedom. With that in mind I will need to have certain aspects of business in the back of my mind as I go forward.