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on May 6, 2003
After 10 years, this still remains a classic work in the marketing field, and perhaps a must-read for anyone in business. And no, unlike many reviewers I do not believe that Ries and Trout have ever managed to redo the glory of this book in their Laws of Branding, Laws of Internet Branding etc.
Don't expect an excruciating marketing treatise with elaborate case studies and What-If scenarios. Expect instead 22 capsules of business wisdom, or "laws" of common sense marketing with some brilliant examples from the real world to prove them. In this, the book excels and is to date the briefest and best argued work I have come across.
However, given the passion with which some reviewers comment about this book I am inclined to offer a caveat -- please don't base your career around it. Although I love thin, in-your-face books such as this (great reading, great examples to bounce off) they also have a fundamental flaw: the fact that they attempt to shove "laws" on to the ever-morphing scaffold of the business of marketing that does not lend itself easily to codification, much less of an "immutable" nature.
It would be a cinch to come up with examples that go against each law in the book if you really wanted.
For instance,
(1) Law of Leadership (better to be first than to be best) can be argued against with the theory of disruptions and how first-mover advantages do not always materialize. Why is WebCrawler not more popular than Google? Because Google is (way) better.
(2) The Law of Sacrifice (that talks about focus, as do a couple of other similar if not redundant laws, including, well, the Law of Focus) would not hold much fizz in the case of many very successful conglomerates, especially in Asian countries. Imagine a company selling everything from oil to fruit juice to IT services, and still being a top brand in a country. Examples abound in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan.
(3) The Law of the Opposite that advocates the definition of your strategy by considering the leader's (also redundant with the Law of the Ladder, which essentially says the same thing) can be argued by giving umpteen examples of companies that shot from being No.2 to being No.1, some times because No.1 filed for Chapter 11. In such cases, emulating the leader could have in fact been detrimental.
Anyway, despite redundancies across the laws, and the possiblity of counter-argument against most of them, this is a ripper of a read for the business intent that it was written for, and 10 years after its publication still as charming as it first was.
Highly recommended reading, but keep your discerning senses about you. Noteworthy: Law of Perception (also Law of the Mind), and Law of the Category.
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on March 10, 1999
Trout and Ries are two of the most far-thinking individuals extant in the world of marketing. However, to get the most out of their later works (and, as well as this book, I highly recommend "The 22 Immutable Laws of BRANDING" by Ries and his wife), it is best to read them in the sequence in which they were written. If you don't understand "positioning" you may very well not follow the analytical process which continues with these "sequels", as evidenced by some of the negative comments from readers. First, one has to differentiate the process of "marketing" by which is meant the bringing to market, or distribution, of a product or service, and "marketing" by which is meant promotion and advertising. Microsoft and USA Today are not successful because of their advertising or promotions, but because of the manner in which their products are distributed. What these books deal with is how companies promote themselves, not distribution channels which which create an advantage in a given industry. The books deal with the establishment of an identity, a position, which will be good for years to come, not with campaigns which may increase sales in a given quarter. Why these books are so important is because, if one doesn't understand the basic concept of positioning, and the rules which logically follow it, one could easily create campaigns (or develop products to be promoted under a brand name)which actually harm or destroy the company's position in the mind of the consumer. Books by Trout and Ries should not only be required reading for those in promotion/advertising, but for all executives.
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on October 5, 2000
This book was required reading in one of my all-time favorite university classes, entrepreneurship. That was my first contact with the 22 Laws, and I have never been sorry. Not only has the knowledge come in useful as I try to market my own small service business, but I can see how other companies have applied (or ignored) the Laws, and what the outcome has been.
THE GOOD: 1) Rather than reading like a textbook, this clever work is more like a small handbook of essential marketing ideas. Its 132 pages are divided up into 22 very readable chapters of about 4-5 pages each. It is very easy to take in a chapter at any time and still learn an invaluable lesson about some aspect of catching your prospect's eye. 2) After each chapter I found myself really thinking about the concept, and trying to figure out how I could apply it to my situation. The chapters have enough great information that they really can be considered little packets of motivation. And who doesn't want more motivation to go and make his or her product (or service) even better? 3) Scattered throughout the book are some really great and inspiring examples of companies that have used the 22 Laws to their advantage. The chapter on the Law of Candor explains how Avis effectively played off of its campaign that it was the number 2 rental car company. The Law of Focus talks about how FedEx succeeded by focusing on small packages and overnight delivery. The Law of the Mind shows how Apple computers beat out the Altair 8800 in the late 70's.
THE BAD: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I can see some areas that other people may not find too attractive. For example, 1) There are no specifics about how to apply each law to your situation, or even how to go about applying it. It is left entirely up to you to see how the law fits your situation, and how you are going to apply it. 2) This book is written like a How-to-win-at-Chess book. It is about the mental dueling that goes on in the marketing world. If you are not into marketing or how to mentally outwit your competition - then you may not like this book.
If you like marketing, clever and witty ideas or the kind of thrill that comes from playing chess then this book is for you! Sure to become a business classic, this book is worth every bit of time and energy spent investing in its powerful concepts.
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on April 27, 2001
I have had the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing for over a year now, and I am always refering to it.
For thoes who are interested in advertising or are already in the business should really read this book. It is practical advice from experts in the field. I have read other books by both authors and have found very vaulable information in all of them.
I disagree with the negetive previous review. Of course times change and so do values, beliefs, and situations, but the basic advertising, branding ideas stay true. Chrysler would have probably failed if they had not developed brands that created a unique perception in the mind of the consumer. The PT Cruiser, 300M and so on... before all of their cars looked the Chryslers. boring, replications, year after year. That type of line extension would burn a brand out faster than it got started.
The one law which I found most interesting is line extension. I would have given this a 5 star review, however I feel that some brands can line extend without damage to the core brand. However this is very limited and must be delt with caution.
However, you can see the effect of correct line extention today. In the car market Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all wanted to compete in the high priced car market. They would never get in the mind of the consumer with a $40,000 honda. But they would with a new name, new brand image and new advertising strategy....hence, Acura.
Advertising is 90% perception of a brand. Consumers feel what they want to feel, believe what they want to believe, and buy what they think is the better brand. The job of advertising is to change thoes perceptions in the mind of the consumer.
I can go on and on, but it's better if you get the book and read it for yourself. As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed this book.
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on August 8, 1999
I purchased the 22 immutable laws of branding first and rate it five stars. This book seems to be 90% the same as the branding book and does not really offer any additional insight.
I recommend purchasing the branding book first...
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on January 19, 2000
If you need a quick lesson on what to do and what not to do in Marketing this is your book. I studied for a Marketing degree and this encompasses the major key learnings.
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on May 13, 2003
A reader of this book said that 'the first law of successful marketing is to read and understand this book'. I agree with that and say that it is a must-read for everyone working in marketing.

I have been working in this field for almost 5 years and I have realised that marketing people tend to have a wide variety of their own ideas about marketing and how to do it. I know that in this field a lot of the success comes from 'the unsual' and 'the uncommon' strategies, but it also comes from certain rules that have to be respected, because a history of more than 25 years proved that they work.

This book is meant to eliminate myths and misconceptions someone might have about the marketing process. Companies spend millions of dollars on marketing thinking that they are chosing the best way to promote their products. But no matter how extraordinary those programs are, sometimes they fail and bring no benefit to the product or the service they promote. The result destroys the identity of the brands, market share decreases, and so do sales. Companies lose a lot of money.

The two authors have a lot of experience in this field and their theories are based clear examples. If marketing people would adjust their promotional programs according to these rules, companies would be much more successful.

There are 22 rules in total, applicable to every field, rules that will make you understand why things are the way they are. It will also help you analyse past experience and decide what was wrong and right and avoid doing the same mistakes in the future.

It is not an academic book . The language and style are accessible to everybody. The authors give a lot of examples from companies' life that will give you a very clear picture of what is going on the market.

Did you know that it is better for a brand to be first on the market than it is to be better? Did you know that the most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind?

I recommend this book to everyone who wants to learn more about marketing and become a professional in this field. Together with Kotler's "Marketing Management', the '22 Immutable laws ...' should be the marketing people's Bible to be read every day.
I am sure it will improve your activities and help you achieve more success.
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on February 16, 1998
Save money. Take a pass on your MBA Marketing degree and just read all the books by Al Ries & Jack Trout. Especially this one, followed by Bottom Up Marketing, and then Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind.
I have read this book at least 5 times (and portions of it even more) and am even more impressed every time. Furthermore, I started a business based on these Laws of Marketing, and can vouch for the wisdom that these gentlemen have been kind enough to share.
This is an absolute CLASSIC that is absolutely riveting! Don't miss it.
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on December 4, 2000
Overview of the Book
I have to admit that I had high expectations for The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. As a Marketing major undergraduate, as well as a Marketing Manager in my professional life, I've read many marketing strategy books. My overall impression of the book was that it was written with the sole purpose of selling a lot of copies. The authors have managed to cram 22 laws into a 132 page book. This allows for only six pages per law, but actually five pages if you include the title pages with artwork. In addition, the font size is very large, making this a quick read.
If the point of the book was for a "quick read," the authors accomplished their objective. However, the substance of the book is extremely weak. Throughout the book, the authors do not cite any research or facts to back up their claims. The entire content is based on anecdotal examples, falsely portrayed as examples of companies either following the "laws" or breaking the "laws". In most cases, success or failure is not the cause of one event, law, or other factor. Success is derived from a number of factors. The authors incorrectly assert that their "laws" are the cause for the "effect" that resulted. Their logic is, "Because company A does this, it proves that our "law" is the correct strategy. This logic fails to consider other factors that led to the result being discussed. The authors cite "22 Immutable Laws" in their book. Using the "law" terminology implies that these are ideas that are not to be questioned and that these "laws" will apply to all marketing situations.
It would be easy to write a book based on well-documented business failures by creating laws that would highlight all of the mistakes, after the fact. However, I would call this "Monday morning quarterbacking". For every example they use to support a law, there are numerous examples that prove their "laws" wrong. The most compelling reason that my assertions are correct is the fact that they used their laws in the book to predict future failures.
An interesting aspect of the book is that it was written in 1994. The authors make many predictions in the book, including the probable demise of Chrysler, the unlikely future success of Microsoft, and the failures of Donald Trump. The last time I checked, Chrysler was introducing the broadest selection of new car models, including the Viper, the Prowler, and the PT Cruiser. Microsoft has become the world's most dominant software company. Some would even argue that Microsoft has become the world's most dominant company, period. Also, Donald Trump has completely turned himself around and is a major player once again in the world of business.
As it turns out, it would be an understatement to say that their predictions did not materialize. If a new edition of this book came out today, I'm sure that these two authors would probably find current examples to continue to support their faulty logic.
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on October 5, 2002
If your marketing plan has failed, then the chances are that you have not adhered to several of the 22 laws which are described in the clear and concise wording on 132 pages in this book. Each law or chapter is usually about five pages long, which requires only a short attention span to read it quickly. I do not recommend reading the book in one evening but to read a chapter and then reflect how these laws effect your company or products.
I will only list those laws that I found most important for me:
Law 3.) The Law of the Mind - It is better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. Examples of this are the personal computer market with MITS Alistair 800 being the first in the marketplace; Apple was the second in the marketplace but first in the mind of the people. The same example is shown with different companies such as Remington Rand and IBM.
Law 4.) The Law of Perception - Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions. You can have a much better product than your competitor but perception wins out most of the time over product. A great example of this is the battle of the imported japanese car market of Honda, Toyota and Nissan as well as the soft drink war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Law 12.) The Law of Line Extension - There is an irresistable pressure to extend the equity of the brand. One of the best chapters of this book explains how a winning product is turned into a loser by creating a spin-off version of the original product. Marketing managers continue to make this fatal mistake today of taking a successful brank like Coke, then creating Cherry Coke, Coke Classic, Caffine Free Coke etc., Engaging in line extension dilutes the original successful brand and the new version will never recoup the market share lost by the leading product. In the end there is an overall market share drop for the entire brand. Other examples of this is IBM's flirtation with the personal computer market, which was already dominated by the Apples, Commodores and Ataris.
The book is very condensed and I am sure a lot of the business scenarios depicted are more complex than they appear. Yes the book is rather old but a lot of these theories still have held true through the internet boom and bust cycle experienced over the last several years.
All people in the field of marketing should have these laws chiseled into their crainium somewhere.
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