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Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It Paperback – September 27, 2005

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Focus: The Future of Your Company Depends on It + Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind + The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing:  Violate Them at Your Own Risk!
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060799900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060799908
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While he doesn't go so far as to say that small is beautiful, Ries (Positioning) levels a commonsense critique at the compulsion for growth that drives corporate America. Growth for its own sake, particularly when it involves diversification into products unrelated to a company's original business, Ries says, causes many companies to become unfocused, confuses customers and loses money. The frenzy for acquisitions that spread many a well-known brand name over a diversity of products has proved untenable, with the result that companies that grew fat are regaining their original focus by slimming down. Sears, Roebuck, a once focused retailer that expanded unwisely into real estate, stock brokering, business system centers and credit cards, is having to divest itself of all but its original retail chain. Managers seeking to focus or refocus their companies will find helpful examples here, drawn from a broad range of enterprises. $50,000 ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Ries, whose previous books were authored with Jack Trout, writes his latest with research assistance from his daughter. Together they go after the management of some of the world's most easily recognized firms, including PepsiCo and IBM. The authors use companies' experience as evidence that "focus" on the core businesses or products is the key to success in today's business environment, arguing that companies that remain focused, e.g., Volvo or McDonald's, have a substantially better track record than those that have strayed from their "core" businesses. This thesis, which is illustrated liberally with examples from the business world, is thoroughly developed. The reader may not always agree with the authors' statements, but they are well made and worth considering. For all management collections and for libraries that support all types of business, large or small.
Littleton M. Maxwell, Business Information Ctr., Univ. of Richmond, Va.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Al Ries is a legendary branding strategist, bestselling author and originator of the concept of Positioning.

In 1972, Al co-authored the now infamous three-part series of articles declaring the arrival of the Positioning Era in Advertising Age magazine. The concept of positioning revolutionized how people viewed advertising and marketing. Marketing was traditionally thought of as communications, but successful brands are those that find an open hole in the mind and then become the first to fill the hole with their brand name.

Since 1994, Al has run Ries & Ries, a consulting firm with his partner and media darling daughter Laura Ries. Together they consult with Fortune 500 companies on brand strategy and are the authors of five books which have been bestsellers around the world. They have traveled to over 60 countries from Chile to China and India to Indonesia teaching the fundamental principles of marketing.

When Advertising Age magazine choose the 75 most important ad moments of the last 75 years celebrating the publication's 75th anniversary. The emergence of positioning came in at number #56. Ad Age commented on how the concept remains just as relevant in today's environment, "The positioning era doesn't end. What became a part of the marketing lexicon in the early '70's holds its own in the textbooks of today."

Al currently writes a monthly marketing column for and appears on the Al's favorite activities include snorkeling, horseback riding and driving with the top down. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife, Mary Lou.

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Customer Reviews

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The author presents very interesting examples.
If you are a CEO or Marketing person you should read this book before you launch next business or marketing plan.
This is a book that I not only enjoyed when reading, but it is one I will come back to and read again.
J. Bossart

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By "guy-72" on May 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this book, Al Ries defines corporate focus as an organization's "necessary" and relentless pursuit to specialize within its industry. For example, one of Ries' examples, PepsiCo, should've focused on its core competency (the Pepsi cola brand), and spun off all other divisions such as its food chains division (KFC, Pizza Hut, Del Taco) and its snack foods division (Frito Lay). PepsiCo, he claims, will lose the war with Coca-Cola unless it focuses on just one enemy (Coke) rather than several. Interestingly enough, Ries's prophecy towards future focus within organizations happens to have become the biggest hit on Wall Street in 1997, and in the case of PepsiCo, came true.
Overall, Ries's call for corporate focus makes a lot of sense. He provides some wonderful examples throughout the book where companies have lost steam through a lack of focus, and then regained it through refocusing. In fact, probably the greatest contribution of this book comes from Ries's expansive milieu of business examples to support his focus-centered thesis. However, this book's downfall becomes apparent in its mid-section where Ries exposes his ignorance about other business philosophies that he imagines are different than his own. For example, his discussion of quality-based management (TQM) is hopelessly misinformed and biased, which will become obvious to even the neophyte in TQM philosophy. It is through his discussion of quality-based management where Ries's bias towards only his way of doing things is exposed. Also exposed is the fact that Ries's area of expertise is marketing, and he consequently pays less respect to others areas of business (namely, operations and support areas).
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
The book is full of valuable information. But Al Ries does not know how to use facilitators to reading. Such as the use of short paragraphs, sections in each chanpter, short chapters etc. The books written by the duo (Ries and Trout) where much better.
The team was very good. It brought us The 22 immutable laws, Positioning, marketing Warfare etc..., But alone I think Ries lacks flare and and trout lacks substance.
Get back together and show us more of the Old stuff.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Philip B. Clement on January 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
About five years ago my colleagues and I at a technology start-up called Inforte found this book. As we grew from 15 to 450 professionals the counsel in this book was a life saver! Inevitably new members of the executive team would want to execute line extensions, get into training, outsourcing, software development, etc. but we did as Al advised and stuck to our guns - focusing only on services. His point - focus is like the sun, as it spreads out it becomes weaker and diluted. On the other hand, concentrated like a laser it is at its strongest.
This book was the best and easiest way to explain to new team members our philosophy. Three years later we were able to meet Al and ask him to join our Board - where his continued application of focus, the brand strength, the increased margins, the stability - all had tremendous payoff. I have read all of his books and if you can only read one - this is it! A great book to give starting Entrepreneurs and pays off large dividends for anyone running a business. It is also a quick read and keeps a fun, macro perspective on the topic.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By "thebluelion" on November 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
For the most part, the ideas in this book are correct: the companies that identify their core businesses and focus on them exclusively are the ones that are most successful. PepsiCo is an often-used example of a company without focus because it is in both the soft-drink business and the restaurant business. Ries argues that this lack of focus causes companies to be valued less. Thus, even though PepsiCo's restaurant business is the largest in the world (Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, etc.), it is valued less than McDonald's, which is smaller but focused. And, even though PepsiCo's revenues are higher than Coke's, again, it is valued less than Coke, Coke being a more focused company. The author outlines several specific problems unfocused companies face, like distracted management and competing against potential customers (e.g., PepsiCo would have a hard time selling soda to McDonald's because it competes against it in the fast-food business).
There is also some good commentary about brand extensions and why they often don't work. For example, "Reebok" might be a great shoe brand, but carrying it over into other products, like Reebok fitness clubs, isn't likely to work. He gives lots of examples to think about, but his logic is sometimes faulty. For example, in trying to argue that Coke should have stuck with the separate "Coke" and "Tab" brands instead of launching "Diet Coke," he points out that the market share of the Coke-plus-Diet-Coke combination today is about the same as the original market share of the Coke-plus-Tab combination. In other words, there was no benefit to replacing Tab with Diet Coke. But this conclusion is invalid because it assumes that Tab could have held its market share.
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