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on 19 February 2006
Even Einstein said "if you can't explain it simply, then you don't understand it". This book is the simplest explaination of what really matters in marketing and while you can read the most complex detailed marketing texts in the world, if you read this book in 30minutes you know most of what you need to know. If you are in marketing, this book is invaluable - if you ever need to present to a non-marketing audience, your presentation is already written for you, or better still give copies of it to your team or your colleagues. If you are not in marketing, read this book for invaluable and straight to the point insight.
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on 9 October 2015
Here's a summary of the first 4 laws. Bottom line an excellent overview of marketing

1. The Law Of Leadership.

It's better to be first than it is to be better. Gillette was the first safety razor, Heineken was the first imported beer in the US and Harvard the first college in the US. And who's the best in each category? Most would conflate first with best. Moreover, how easy is it to remember the second? Who was the second person to the run the four minute mile after Roger Banister? Who was the second US president after George Washington?*

2. The Law of the Category.

If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in. After seeing the success of Heineken, Anheuser-Busch (owner of Budweiser brand) could launched their own imported beer. But instead they saw that a market for high-priced imported beer could mean there is a market for high-priced domestic beer. So they launched Michelob which outsold Heineken two to one. When you launch a product don't compare yourself to the competition, but think what category you can be first in. This turns classic brand-oriented marketing thinking on its head. Forget the brand, think categories.

3. The Law Of the Mind.

It's better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. The world's first mainframe computer was Remington Rand's UNVAC, but thanks to a massive marketing effort, IBM got to the mind first. This is an important caveat to Law #1. The law of the mind follows from the law of perception. The mind takes precendence over the marketplace. But remember once a mind is made up, it's very tough to change, so one of the most wasteful forms of marketing it to try to change minds.

4. The Law Of Perception.

Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions. Marketers obsess over getting the facts, but there is no objective reality. There are no facts. There are no best products. Perception is reality, everything else is illusion. Take cars, in the early 1990s, the best selling Japanese cars in the US were Honda, Toyota and Nissan in that order. But in Japan, where the same cars were sold, the order was Toyota, Nissan and Honda. Why? In Japan, Honda was associated with motorcyles, not cars in the minds of people.

There are 18 more laws, which are well worth reading.

*John Landy, John Adams

For more like this, see:
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on 24 November 2004
I found this book very interesting and really easy to read, but the examples need updating. Things have changed a bit in the last 11 years (this book was written in 1993) and reading things like "Microsoft is the leader in personal computer operating systems, but it trails the leaders in each of the following major categories: spreadsheets (Lotus), word processing (WordPerfect) and business graphics (Harvard graphics)" can't fail to put a smile on your face. I think that the laws still hold true though. One more thing: the book has been written by Americans for Americans and certain brands mentioned in it are not well known in Europe, if at all. It's still worth reading, in my opinion.
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Twenty years ago I knew hundreds of things about marketing. Now I know just a few things. Almost all of them are in this book, and the authors crystallise them excellently.

The 22 laws is in many ways superb, but it could be criticised on three counts
First, it seems quite opinionated. Who is Ries to say that things are this way and not another way? Interestingly, basic books on marketing will cut the cake both ways, saying 'you can do this, or you can do that...'. Top marketing books, though, written by the gurus that people in the know want to hear from, are much more in agreement. What Ries is saying may not be original, but it fairly represents the balance of opinion at the top table.
Second, the book is quite dated. It was written in 1994, and, in many ways, we're in a different world now. On the other hand, this is no bad thing: you can look at the brands that Ries said would not prosper unless they changed their marketing, and compare them with what did prosper. Eight times out of ten Ries was right. The other two times fit perfectly with his law of unpredictability.
Third, the book is actually pretty much the same as the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, by the same author. I've got both books, and I don't begrudge Al Ries the money. The emphasis is a little different, and the one reinforces the other.

Ultimately, marketing is about distilling a distinctive promise to the consumer and then promoting it aggressively. This book is mainly about the distinctive promise and its distillation. It talks about the kinds of campaigns that this leads to, but it isn't a how-to book for doing your first city-wide outdoor advertising campaign. There are lots of other books out there that do that -- but, be warned: many of them fall into the frequent traps that Ries warns us about.

For my money, this is a book well worth heeding.
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on 18 March 2000
First published in 1993 this book is now a bit dated, but still a thought provoking and easy read. I don't agree with all they say - particularly caveats on line extensions - so would not recommend marketing beginners to swallow it hook line and sinker. But there's gold in there, and it's delightfully jargon-free.
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on 30 January 2011
Of all the thousands of books on business and marketing I have read over the years - This is still my favourite.

It's the most helpful book anyone starting a new business can read, it seems the secret to success for small and medium businesses IS FOCUS. What a brilliant idea, so many business-people start up and try to grow their business immediately by diversifying into everything and anything and adding new products and services. They, naively, believe that's how you grow a business to build the big company they dream of. - Misguided people. Whatever you think, think the opposite, and this book will teach you how to do exactly that. Grow a company by doing the exact opposite of line extension - FOCUS.
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on 23 December 2008
I read this book because I had read their other book the 22 Imutable Laws of Branding and whilst there are some similarities, there is still some good stuff in here. They explain marketing in a simple way and don't over theorise. You can still pick up some marketing gems even if you have been marketing for years. I agree with one reviewer who said marketing is "not an exact sicence" because it relies on the human mind and emotion so much. Something which is very important and is explored in The Brighter Marketing Bible for Small Businesses. If you really want to find out more about marketing but don't have much time the 22 Immutable Laws of marketing is a good read.
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on 21 April 2008
This book is quite old - ten years - but that only shows how right they got it then. I know nothing about marketing but reading this book made me see where I've gone wrong so many times. A lot of it is counter-intuitive, which is probably why it gets some less that brilliant reviews. Some people don't want to hear or acknowledge the truth - especially those who call themselves professional meketeers. Keep your heads stuck in the sand guys!

Read it twice and then have a long hard think about your marketing strategy. Write out the 22 laws and see if you can honestly tick them off. It works for more than just business too.
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on 27 September 2007
Using actual examples and sharp analysis, Al Ries and Jack Trout offer 22 "laws" that amount to a basic, concise distillation of their marketing experience and wisdom. Their examples are pithy enough to keep the most jaded marketing person engaged. And their lessons are embedded verities that would be hard to dispute. The only drawback is that this classic may be a bit dated, so it is interesting to see how surprisingly well some of their original observations have fared over the years. We recommend this classic to anyone seriously interested in marketing. After all, you can't ignore the law.
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on 18 February 1999
Reading business & marketing books can sometimes be hard work. This is one of the few books that presents all you need to know with simple common sense terminology. The real-life case studies are excellent focusing on the large 'household' names which makes for interesting and light reading.
The book isn't and A-Z on marketing; nor is it a traditional text book. However, for a business manager with little exposure to marketing models and academia...this is the perfect introduction to the marketing philosophy.
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