Law 1: It’s better to be first than it is to be better
It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.
One reason the first brand tends to maintain its leadership is that the name often becomes generic. Xerox, the first plain-paper copier, became the name for all plain-paper copiers. People will stand in front of a Ricoh or a Sharp or a Kodak machine and say, “How do I make a Xerox copy?” They will ask for the Kleenex when the box clearly says Scott. They will offer you a Coke when all they have is Pepsi-Cola.
Regardless of reality, people perceive the first product into the mind as superior. Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.
Law 2: If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category to be first in
When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not “How is this new product better than the competition?” but “First what?” In other words, what category is this new product first in?
Everyone’s interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.
Law 3: It’s better to be first in the mind than first in the marketplace
Being first in the mind is everything in marketing. Being first in the marketplace is important only to the extent that it allows you to get in the mind first.
The single most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind.
Law 4: Marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perception
All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.
Law 5: The most powerful concept is owning a word in the prospect’s mind
The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.
Law 6: Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s head
Law 7: Your strategy is determined by where you are on the ladder
Then Avis did the one thing you have to do to make progress inside the mind of the prospect. They acknowledged their position on the ladder. “Avis is only No. 2 in rent-a-cars. So why go with us? We try harder.”
The ladder is a simple, but powerful, analogy that can help you deal with the critical issues in marketing. Before starting any marketing program, ask yourself the following questions: Where are we on the ladder in the prospect’s mind?
Law 8: In the long run, every market becomes a two horse race
We repeat: The customer believes that marketing is a battle of products. It’s this kind of thinking that keeps the two brands on top: “They must be the best, they’re the leaders.”
Law 9: If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader
Much like a wrestler uses his opponent’s strength against him, a company should leverage the leader’s strength into a weakness.
Law 10: Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
Law 11: Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time
Law 12: There’s an irresistable pressure to extend the equity of a brand (line extension)
Invariably, the leader in any category is the brand that is not line extended. Take baby food, for example. Gerber has 72 percent of the market, way ahead of Beech-Nut and Heinz, the two line-extended brands.
Law 13: You have to give up something to get something (sacrifice)
If you want to be successful today, you should give something up
Law 14: For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute
You must find your own word to own. You must seek out another attribute.
It’s much better to search for an opposite attribute that will allow you to play off against the leader. The key word here is opposite— similar won’t do.
Law 15: When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive
So it may come as a surprise to you that one of the most effective ways to get into a prospect’s mind is to first admit a negative and then twist it into a positive.
What should Listerine do? It certainly couldn’t tell people that Listerine’s taste “wasn’t all that bad.” That would raise a red flag that would reinforce a negative perception. Things could get worse. Instead, Listerine brilliantly invoked the law of candor: “The taste you hate twice a day.”
Law 16: In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results (singularity)
Most often there is only one place where a competitor is vulnerable. And that place should be the focus of the entire invading force.
Law 17: Unless you write your competitor’s plan, you cannot predict the future (unpredictability)
Implicit in most marketing plans is an assumption about the future. Yet marketing plans based on what will happen in the future are usually wrong. With hundreds of computers and an army of meteorologists, no one can predict the weather three days in advance, so how do you expect to predict your market three years in advance?
No one can predict the future with any degree of certainty. Nor should marketing plans try to.
Law 18: Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance leads to failure
Ego is the enemy of successful marketing. Objectivity is what’s needed.
Law 19: Failure is to be expected and accepted
Too many companies try to fix things rather than drop things. “Let’s reorganize to save the situation” is their way of life.
“If you learn something and you’re trying something, then you probably get credit for it. But woe to the person who makes the same mistake twice.”
Law 20: The situation is often the opposite of how it appears in the press
When things are going well, a company doesn’t need the hype. When you need the hype, it usually means you’re in trouble.
Law 21: Succesful programs are not built on fads, but trends
Here’s the paradox. If you were faced with a rapidly rising business, with all the characteristics of a fad, the best thing you could do would be to dampen the fad. By dampening the fad, you stretch the fad out and it becomes more like a trend.
Law 22: Without adequate funding, an idea won’t get off the ground
You’ll get further with a mediocre idea and a million dollars than with a great idea alone.