Book Review - The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - Al Ries


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Book Review - The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - Al Ries

Postby executive_2010 » Mon Jan 05, 2009 5:49 pm

They say, marketing is one of the least preferred specializations of MBA students. And, why should it not be? Markets, of all kinds, in all contexts, can get extremely volatile. The tips and tricks change every now and then. You never know what works and what doesn’t. That being the case, how can there be "immutable laws" of marketing? And, exactly 22 of them? This curiosity made me pick up the book...

The authors - Al Ries and Laura Ries - are "world-renowned marketing consultants and best-selling authors of Positioning and Marketing Warfare" according to some. Although I had never heard of them before.

From the title I expected it to be a theoretical, preaching kind of book that has complex theories, mathematical models and the likes. But, that’s not the case. In fact, the book is full of real life stories, examples of rise and fall of companies from various sectors, interesting analogies, which make the book a real fun to read.

I won’t go through all of the 22 laws here, because that would kill your fun, but I would certainly like to comment on those I found worthy of.

Law of leadership:
The book gives plenty of examples of successes of companies who did something out-of-box, for the first time. IBM was the first PC manufacturer; Xerox was the first copier machine, and so on. Law of leadership, in effect, says that it is advisable to do something new rather than doing it better. I would only partially agree with this law. No doubt, being the first in the category gives an extra edge to the company. It doesn’t have to worry much about the quality of its product, because there’s nothing to compare with. There’s also, no competition of any kind. They get the 100% market share. But, I believe, eventually the fundamentals catch up. Unless the leader continues to perform well, it doesn’t take long for the market to overthrow him out of power. If that weren’t the case, we would still be driving Ambassadors and Fiats in India.

The law of hype:
The history is filled with marketing failures that were successful in the press. This chapter talks about new things which claim to make existing things obsolete. Such products tend to become darlings in the press, because the idea of breakthrough innovation is very attractive to readers. But, almost invariably these campaigns quickly loose their steam and things just go on as they were before. If anything, the newspapers make great profits.

Great revolutions come unannounced. I don’t think any media agency bothered about writing on cell phones back in 1980s, when they were used by military and government agencies in Japan and USA. The revolutions also take their time. Nothing is wiped off the store shelves within a year. No doubt, digital cameras make the conventional photography obsolete and very inconvenient, but it might surprise you that the first digital camera (Apple’s QuickTake) came in the market in 1994... 10 years back!

Law of sacrifice:
Marketing is the battle of perception. If your product, say shirts, is successful in the market, it is probably because the consumers associate an image of a good shirt (or, some positive attribute of a good shirt) with your company name. It would then be a mistake to leverage the same perception to market another product, say pants. The book gives plenty of examples of companies who have done this and failed. It might seem like saying ’NO’ to growth and larger profits. But, there’s a trick you can play. Clever folks simply use a different brand name for their new product. By doing this, they are in fact, starting a new venture. Since, they do not use their previous product’s name and fame to their advantage. But, they also don’t hamper their existing steady stream of revenue.

I would strongly recommend this book for everyone who is interested in /curious about marketing. You may visit the following links for more. At, you can even read a few pages online before you decide to buy. Indian public can order it from Sifymall / Rediff for Rs. 200. ... 2laws.html

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