The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

By Al Ries & Jack Trout.

This was recommended by Tim Ferriss as a book he refers to often. After reading it in the library I bought a copy for $13 on book depository. I’m guessing it’ll pay itself back 10,000x this year alone at a minimum. If you own your own business… buy this book. It’s 120 pages and you’ll refer to it often.


Here are the 22 Immutable laws and how we’re trying to apply them to iRefi (without giving away too many insights):


The Law of Leadership.

It is better to be first than it is to be better… people remember the first and it’s rare for a success first entrant to be overtaken in the mind of the consumer.


The Law of the Category.

If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category. We’ve set up an online mortgage service… everything is online. Mortgages are stacks of paperwork and lots of meetings. We’re trying to automate everything to make it easier for clients and a no-brainer because it’s quicker than the old category.


The Law of the Mind.

It’s better to be first in the mind than first in the market. Branding is important, you have to be remembered to be relevant.


The Law of Perception.

Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions. The customer’s perception is the reality. It’s very hard to change their mind after perceptions have been formed. We deal with this daily because some people trust their bank to give them the best rates in town… if that were true how would we get so much interest? In NZ there’s also a negative perception towards mortgage brokers/advisers. Changing this perception is tough. In the US up to 90% of people will use a mortgage adviser. IN NZ it’s more like 30-40% and this is why banks hold onto so much profit because the rates are much higher than they could be (one of the reasons).


The Law of Focus.

The most powerful concept in marketing is owning the word in the prospect’s mind. Volvo owns safety. Xerox owns copier. Google owns search.


The Law of Exclusivity.

Two companies cannot own the same word in the consumer’s mind.


The Law of the Ladder.

The strategy you use depends on which rung of the ladder you are on. I’d read The Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday for inspiration if you’re struggling to own a market. Also see Scaling Up.


The Law of Duality.

In the long run, every market becomes a two horse race. Think Coke and Pepsi.


The Law of the Opposite.

If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader. This isn’t cryptic, read and reread the Law. If your main competitor is targeting an area or niche then target something else. In strength there is weakness.


The Law of Division.

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


The Law of Perspective.

Marketing efforts take place over an extended period of time. Short term effects and long term effects are very different. Discounting is great for this quarter but terrible for long term growth and profits because clients expect sales. When do you buy from Briscoes or Rebel Sports? Only when they have a sale right?


The Law of Line Extension.

There’s an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand… but it often dilutes focus and profits.


The Law of Sacrifice.

You have to give up something in order to get something. The are 3 things to sacrifice: product line, target market, and constant change. Less is more.


The Law of Attributes.

For every attribute , there is an opposite, effective attribute. iRefi does things online… some people insist on meeting and 99% of the time we can’t help them because there’s no extra value we can deliver by meeting in person. We make exceptions but this will eventually get phased out. Think about it, when you list something on trademe, when you book a hotel or flight, when you buy a shirt off ASOS… you don’t need to talk or meet anyone. Shop in your PJs at 2am. We do online anywhere for anyone. The tradeoff is meeting a select few.


The Law of Candor.

When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive. We joke that talking about your mortgage is boring and most people would rather not… our guys try to be candid and admit we’ve only been around 6 months. Because the guys are knowledgeable, reliable, and nice… more people are turning to us for help.


The Law of Singularity.

In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results. Trying everything is sometimes important but spreading your focus can be to your detriment. Getting one thing right and putting all resources there is a surer way to succeed than trying lots of small tactics. Experiments yes, but 5-10 projects… no.


The Law of Unpredictability.

Unless you right your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future. Failure to forecast competitive reaction is a major reason for marketing failures. SOmetimes all you have to do is avoid failure and you’ll succeed in some respects.


The Law of Success.

Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure. This sounds like a Yoda quote. We’re counting on the big incumbent mortgage players to not see us coming until it’s too late.


The Law of Failure.

Failure is to be expected and accepted. At iRefi we have little mistakes almost everyday because we are running so many software programs and developing our own systems. 9 people dealing with technology all day by themselves and within teams… just like dropped balls in rugby the mistakes will happen. We have a culture of slowing down to ensure good passes and correcting other people’s mistakes learning from them. Reward and learn from failure because it’s just progress.


The Law of Hype.

The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press. I’m refraining from elaborating here. The big guys love to tell the media how awesome and successful they are… Some of the most successful companies I know, some of the owners and CEOs who run these companies are superstars with huge profits. You will rarely hear about them.


The Law of Acceleration.

Successful programs are not built on fads, they’re built on trends. Think Chatterings (if you’re old enough) which was a one week fad vs the Barbie which has been around for decades.


The Law of Resources.

Without adequate funding an idea won’t get off the ground. Reminds me of a great Tony Robbins quote…

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 10.28.15 PM


Buy this book.