Latish Sehgal's Blog

Book Notes: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Read On: Oct 2014
Reading Time: 5 hours
Rating: 9/10


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. These valuable insights stand the test of time and present a clear path to successful products. Violate them at your own risk.


  • Law of Leadership: Create a category you can be first in. Regardless of reality, people perceive the first product into the mind as superior. Marketing is a battle of perception, not products.
  • Law of Category: If you cannot be first in an existing Category, set up a new Category that you can be first in. When you are first in a new category, promote the category and not the product.
  • Law of the Mind: It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. This follows the Law of Perception. If marketing is a battle of perception, not product, then the mind takes precedence over the marketplace.
  • Law of Perception: Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions. There is no objective reality. There are no facts or best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the mind of the customer. The perception is the reality, everything else is an illusion. Focus your marketing efforts on perceptions and not product merits.
  • Law of Focus: The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind. The most effective words are simple and benefit oriented. The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.
  • Law of Exclusivity: Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.
  • Law of the Ladder: Your marketing strategy should depend on which rung you occupy on the ladder (in the prospect’s mind). You tend to have twice the market share of the brand below you and half the market share of the brand above you.
  • Law of Duality: In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.
  • Law of the Opposite: If you are shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader. Discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the exact opposite.
  • Law of Divison: Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
  • Law of Perspective: Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time. In the short term, a sale increases business, but it decreases business in the long term.
  • Law of Line Extension: In the long term, Line Extensions (taking the brandname of a successful product and putting it on a new product you plan to introduce) almost never work. If you want to be successful, you have to narrow the focus in order to build a position in the prospect’s mind.
  • Law of Sacrifice: You have to give up one thing in order to get another. 3 things to sacrifice:
    • Product Line: Reduce it. Marketing is a game of mental warfare. It’s a battle of perceptions, not products or services. Specialist > Generalist.
    • Target Market: The target is not the market. More people than you target buy your product.
    • Constant Change: Don’t change your strategy frequently to keep up with market twists.
  • Law of Attributes: For every Attribute, there is an opposite effective attribute. Search for an opposite Attribute that will allow you to play off against the leader. You must try and own the most important Attribute.
  • Law of Candor: When you admit something negative about yourself, the prospect will register that as a positive thing. Candor is very discerning; Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth. When a company starts a message by admitting a problem, people tend to almost instinctively open their minds. Quicky follow your negative with a positive thing, since at that point, the prospect trusts you.
  • Law of Singularity: In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results. The only thing that works in marketing is the single, bold stroke. To find that singular idea or concept, you have to know what’s happening in the marketplace.
  • Law of Unpredictability: Unless you write your competitor’s plans, you can’t predict the future.
  • Law of Success: Success often leads to arrogance, which leads to failure. Staying objective after success is essential. Leave the ego out. The only thing that counts in marketing is the customer’s perception.
  • Law of Failure: Failure is to be expected and accepted. Admit/Recognize your mistakes early and adjust.
  • Law of Hype: The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press.
  • Law of Acceleration: Successful programs are built on trends, not fads.
  • Law of Resources: Marketing is a game fought in the mind of the prospect. You need money to get there, and you need money to stay there as well. Without adequate funding, an idea won’t get off the ground.


This was a quick read. I got introduced to the book after reading Eric Sink’s fantastic series of blog posts on the same subject. I am pretty inexperienced at marketing, so a lot of content in the book was very eye-opening. It was also depressing to see that I violated pretty much every suggestion in the book as I created and launched SqlSmash this year. I am looking forward to try out what I have learned in the next year with SqlSmash 2.0.

P.S I have moved all my Book Notes to Read My Book Notes.