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The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! Paperback – April 27, 1994
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There are laws of nature, so why shouldn't there be laws of marketing?
As Al Ries and Jack Troutâthe world-renowned marketing consultants and bestselling authors of Positioningânote, you can build an impressive airplane, but it will never leave the ground if you ignore the laws of physics, especially gravity. Why then, they ask, shouldn't there also be laws of marketing that must be followed to launch and maintain winning brands? In The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Ries and Trout offer a compendium of twenty-two innovative rules for understanding and succeeding in the international marketplace. From the Law of Leadership, to The Law of the Category, to The Law of the Mind, these valuable insights stand the test of time and present a clear path to successful products. Violate them at your own risk.
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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 Throughout the book, the authors do not cite any research or facts to back up their claims.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.
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.
(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.
Most recent customer reviews
Very concise, one can finish the book in one sitting.Read more