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22 immutable laws of marketing that you must know!

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

'The 22 immutable laws of marketing' was the first marketing book I ever read.

Back then my source of looking out for a good marketing book was to just google "Must read marketing books" this one popped up as the most recommended one, and since then the love for reading books on marketing has just been growing.

The content is to the point, all the 22 laws are covered in a way that there's enough information for you to read and understand, at the same time there is no additional information provided that might confuse you.


When the word 'law' is introduced, our first instinct is to think of it from the point of view of laws that a specific country needs to abide by while promoting a product.

Like in the case of the Advertising, we have the ASCI to abide by.

But the laws mentioned in this book are not specific to a country nor are they specific to any product category.

It's more to do with having a broader perspective while working on your marketing strategy and ensuring these 22 laws are incorporated.

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So without further ado lets dive in, and understand each of these laws

22 immutable laws of marketing

It's better to be first than it is to be better

This law highlights that the main issue in marketing is not convincing people about your product, it's about creating a category in which your product/brand is the first.

As the book mentions "It's much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one who got into their mind first".

22 immutable laws of marketing

If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in

It's not always that you get a chance to be the leader, in fact, more often than not your brand will not get this opportunity.

Let's face it, the situation right now is so competitive that forget being the first but it's quite difficult to be the second or the third.

Why not make your own category then?

Fighting for the top spot in the same category may not be as fruitful, dig in to see what is that unique element your brand has instead.

22 immutable laws of marketing

It's better to be first in the mind than it is to be first in the marketplace

This law states that marketing is a battle of perception, not product, so it makes a lot more sense that the mind takes the precedence over the marketplace.

You can't change a mindset, so if your consumers have decided your product is better in their mind, no competitor placed in the supermarket shelf will affect your brand.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Marketing is not a battle of product, it's a battle of perception

The perception derived from what the consumer would get by using your brand.

Most of the marketing efforts do not show the expected outcome because they are too focused on product communication, but highlighting the perception of what consumers feel about the brand make a lot of difference.

22 immutable laws of marketing

The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind

The word need not be a complicated one, any word that symbolizes your brand in the consumer's mind.

For example, if the word is 'Chocolate' then Cadbury owns this space in entirety.

This is how the brand has positioned itself in the prospect's mind.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect's mind

Since we have already taken an example of 'Chocolate' let's continue with that.

When I say Cadbury owns that space in the consumer's mind, does that mean that no other chocolate brands exist, of course, they do!

But the point I am trying to make here can be better explained by Fabelle Chocolates, they positioned the brand as a premium chocolate variety.

So from a consumer's point of view 'Chocolate = Cadbury' however 'Premium Chocolate = Fabelle'

22 immutable laws of marketing

The strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder

Now, what is this ladder?

So according to this law, each category has a specific ladder in the consumer's mind.

For example, in the case of instant noodles- clearly, Maggi tops the ladder, followed by Yippee, etc.

The strategy needs to be altered based on what position you are at if you are the market leader you need to work towards retaining that position, whereas if you are not on top the strategy needs to be around how do I get there.

22 immutable laws of marketing

In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race

There may be many products introduced under a specific category but in the long run, the battle is only between the top two and their fight to win the market.

If we take the example of coffee, while there may be many brands of coffee available in the market- the real fight is only between a Nescafe and a Bru.

22 immutable laws of marketing

If you're shooting for the second place, your strategy is determined by the leader

It all depends on what the leader is doing in your category.

If there is a clear positioning established by the leader, you cannot and shouldn't replicate it.

Its all about creating your own space even if you are not at the top, what is it that you can offer differently that will help your brand move ahead is what you need to focus on.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories

This is a common phenomenon, take for example the case of cold drinks- We have soda drinks like Thumbs up, Coke, Pepsi, etc., then we have non-aerated drinks like Maaza, Slice, etc., we have flavored water, cold coffees, etc.

So over a period of time, a bigger category is split up, but its important to consider each of these smaller categories also as separate entities.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Marketing effects take place over an extended period.

We cannot expect the sales to go up overnight, but does that mean our marketing efforts have not worked?

That's not the case.

We must understand that with each marketing effort, we are also educating our consumers about our competitor or rather educating them against our competitor and that will pay up in the long run.

22 immutable laws of marketing

There's an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand

When your brand starts performing well, you believe you can achieve anything.

That's when you get the idea of line extensions, and you meet the faith of the famous Pond's Toothpaste!

You have to be very careful in regards to what category you wish to tap into, and at the same time look at the timing and category fit.

22 immutable laws of marketing

You have to give up something to get something.

Maybe you let go of a product that's not working well for you in the market, or you let go of one of the mediums of promotion.

It's more useful to use the marketing budget in areas which provide better results.

22 immutable laws of marketing

For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute

Too often a company tries to emulate the leader.

However, it's much better to look for an alternate attribute that the consumers are looking for and the market leader is not focusing on.

22 immutable laws of marketing

When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive

It's against human nature to accept a problem.

But one of the most effective ways to get into a prospect's mind is to first admit a negative and then correct it with a positive.

A brilliant example can be that of Listerine, they knew customers hated their taste- they came up with a tagline 'The taste you hate twice a day'.

22 immutable laws of marketing

In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results

Marketers believe that success is the result of multiple small efforts directed towards the brand.

However, the fact of the matter is that all it takes is a bold stroke, that one amazing campaign, that one amazing positioning, that one all-encompassing offer to excel.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Unless you write your competitor's plans, you can't predict the future

While most of the companies work on quarter results and have short term planning in place.

It makes more sense to have a long term direction instead.

You cannot predict the future, sure.

But you can gauge the trends in the coming future and then work around your strategy.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure

Most of the time, brands tend to get less objective once they achieve their desired success. It's extremely important to continue what you are doing to retain your position.

Your competitor is just around the corner, waiting for you to vacate the seat at the leader's position.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Failure is to be expected and accepted

It makes a lot more sense to drop things rather than trying to revive/change them.

You cannot expect your consumers to think on the same lines as you do, so if a product fails, that's OK.

It's much better to dump and move ahead instead of trying to lift it from its grave.

22 immutable laws of marketing

The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press

When you need the hype, it means your company is in trouble.

When everything is working out well for your brand, you might not need that extra hype.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Successful programs are not built on fads, they are built on trends

A fad is visible to you and your consumers, it's like a wave that goes up and down, so you cannot rely on that.

On the other hand, a trend is like a tide, its almost invisible but is extremely powerful in the long run.

22 immutable laws of marketing

Without adequate funding, an idea won't get off the ground

It's important to have a strong idea in place before you set out for money.

You need money to get into the mind and stay there.

Ensure the funding is in sync with the requirement of your idea.

So go ahead and make your own brand checklist taking into account all these 22 laws.

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