logo 12min

Start growing!

Boost your life and career with the best book summaries.

Start growing!

Boost your life and career with the best book summaries.

logo 12min

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Summary

13 min read ⌚ 

MicroSummaryHave you ever wondered if there are fundamental marketing principles that can be followed by anyone that allows them to create winning companies? Two of the world’s most renowned marketing consultants and authors came together to try to outline them and turned it into a book that is a masterpiece for all those who want to work in the field. Al Ries and Jack Trout in The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing have captured a compendium of best practices for the ultimate success of the modern marketer. Violate these laws, and you will be out of the market.

Should we begin?

Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

Are you working in Marketing/Management/Branding? Are you an entrepreneur or maybe you have an idea/a small business that you want to transform into a BIG idea/GREAT company?

If the answer is “YES” for at least one question above, then “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” is one of the first books you MUST read and take notes!

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing”, written by Al Ries and Jack Trout, offers you a complete guide. We can even call it the bible of marketing, concisely structured (in 22 short chapters) and very easy to read.

Reading this book will help you focus on the really important issues, like the following: to choose the best decisions, to better invest your budget, and to avoid mistakes, and waste of time and money.


Being first in the mind is everything in marketing. Click To Tweet

“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Summary”

The book presents the basic and constant rules that determine the success and the failure of companies or products/services in the retail market.

Even if the book was published more than 20 years ago, the laws and the advice presented are still up to date as marketing and the consumers haven’t changed much.

The book was written after more than 25 years of studying what works and what doesn’t work in marketing.

Each marketing law or affirmation presented within the book is accompanied by clear and real examples from the history of famous brands (such as IBM, Coca-Cola, Xerox, Starbucks, etc.) versus examples of companies that don’t exist anymore on the market.

According to the authors Al Ries and Jack Trout some companies have progressed and have become increasingly popular, have expanded their business lines, or just increased their sales for a specific range because their management discovered and respected the marketing laws presented in the book.

Unfortunately, there were (or still are) other companies that stagnated their business or even went bankrupt because they didn’t take into consideration the same marketing laws.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Summary

#1: The Law of Leadership

Being the first in a market is better than having a better product than the competition.

People tend to remember who was the first man on the moon or the first aviator, but no one remembers who was the second.

Heineken was the first imported beer in the United States and continues today to be number 1.

The same goes for Miller, the first light beer on the American market. By the way, being first does not help if the product or idea is not good.

#2: The Law of Category

Given the difficulty of leading a category whose competition already exists, it is better to create a new category of products and position your product in it.

The category does not have to be brutally different, but if there is a leader in the current category, create a variation where you can be unique.

In the example of the “imported beers” category, Heineken can be a leader, but you can be a leader in the “light imported beers” category, for example.

You may not be the first man to step on the moon, but you may be the first woman to step on the moon.

#3: The Law of the Mind

More important than being number 1 on the market, is being number 1 in the minds of consumers.

Being the pioneer of a market helps, after all, there is no competition for the minds of consumers. But, since the consumer is predisposed to a brand, it is very difficult to change it.

To be successful without spending a lot of money on buying advertising, your goal is to find as many minds as possible yet without a formed opinion and work hard to form them.

#4: The Law of Perception

Marketing is not about products, their features, and their qualities but about people’s perceptions about that product.

There is no truth, and what we call truth is a perception that people create in their minds. In Japan, the biggest automaker is Honda, but in the US market, it is only in third place, behind Toyota and Nissan.

If the quality of a car is the most important to the consumer, the leader should be the same in both markets.

The curious point is that in Japan, Honda is renowned for its motorcycles. Therefore, the focus of marketing should always be directed at changing perceptions.

#5: The Law of Focus

The most powerful thing that exists in marketing is to own a word in the consumer’s mind.

Holding a specific context ensures that when people are exposed to this word, they connect it with the brand that owns the word. Shaving blades are synonymous with Gillette.

Computers are synonymous with IBM and Google means researching something.

#6: The Law of Exclusivity

Complementing the law of focus, it is impossible to take the word of another company.

Burger King tried to own the word “fast” but it was already McDonald’s, and so they failed and spent millions.

If a competitor already owns a phrase or word, do not try to use it but find something different and unique.

If you try to steal the phrase or word of your rival, your marketing efforts end up strengthening the position of your competitor.

#7: The Law of the Ladder

Imagine the market as a ladder inside the consumer’s head. The first step is the market leader; the second is the second place and so on.

Your marketing strategy depends on the step you take on the market ladder. In some product categories, the ladder may have seven rungs, and you need to know it to build your strategy. An efficient approach realistically matches your current position with reasonable investments.

The American company Avis was the number two in the rental market vehicles and as announced with the slogan “the best in car rentals,” they were losing money because people did not believe in the campaign.

They now have greater profits when they took their second position and adopted the slogan “We try harder”, which characterized them in a manner befitting their position.

#8: The Law of Duality

In the long run, all marketing battles become about with only two competitors. Think McDonalds & Burger King. Nike & Reebok.

There will always be two brands struggling to win a category.

Companies that do not dominate their market should strive to establish themselves as the number 2 if they want to be successful in the long run.

#9: The Law of the Opposite

If you fight for second place, your strategy is set by the leader. Turn your strengths into weaknesses.

Do not try to be better and chase the opposite of him. If Coca-Cola is the company of the masses, Pepsi is “the choice of the new generation”.

In this way, you steal the attention of other competitors, after all, most people tend to fall between “the old trusted brand” and the “new brand that has arrived.”

#10: The Law of the Division

Over time, most categories fall into many segments, and each begins to act as an independent category.

Cars started as a single category, and today there are sports cars, luxury cars, utilities, etc.

Often companies do not understand this and believe that divisions are combining, investing in synergy.

Leading brands maintain their dominance by attacking new categories with new brands. When Honda tried to hit the luxury market, for example, it created a new brand, Acura.

#11: The Law of Perspective

Marketing results can only be appreciated in the long run. It is a mistake to sacrifice long-term planning to improve short-term outcomes.

Raising sales in the short term through the use of rebates can be positive for the company cashier, but educates consumers to buy when deals occur, and this reduces profits in the long run.

#12: The Law of Line Extension

Companies tend to give in to the temptation to expand a brand of success to unrelated areas.

When this happens, the company ends up losing its focus and failing, as it starts to try to be everything to everyone, instead of focusing on what it knows how to do. In marketing, more is less.

The more products a company has, the lower the profits for each one.

And also less is more: the smaller the niche a brand wants to occupy, the higher its position in the minds of consumers within that focal area.

#13: The Law of Sacrifice

You need to focus on conquering something important. Companies that try to do everything end up failing. To progress, a company should not:

  • Offer a complete and diversified product line;
  • Focus on expanding a brand in unrelated areas;
  • Change strategy constantly;

If a company is not prepared to make such sacrifices, it will never win. A good example is trying a new channel, perhaps your business relies on functionality, and employing SMS marketing strategies might be great.

In other cases, your business sells high-end goods, in which case probably SMS marketing is not something you should seriously consider. For more insights, explore the latest SMS stats.

#14: The Law of Attributes

For each attribute used in marketing by one company, there is an opposite attribute that the other can use effectively.

The reason for this tactic is obvious. It is challenging to win by replacing market leaders; So you should focus on serving any segment of the market that the leader ignores.

In this segment, there will always be enough space.

#15: The Law of Candor

Admit something wrong in your marketing and consumers will accept it positively.

That works by being unexpected and opening up the audience to your message.

Smart companies admit marketing failures and then turn them into something positive.

The prospect should feel instantly in agreement with your apology. Otherwise, you will cause confusion.

#16: The Law of Singularity

In every marketing situation, there is always a movement that will bring substantial success.

Tuning an inefficient strategy does not return results. Working a little harder in executing an inefficient tactic does not produce results.

In almost every situation, there is an option that will bring excellent results. The challenge is to find this option and explore it. Competitors will have a weakness.

#17: The Law of Unpredictability

Trying to anticipate the plans of the competition is impossible, and their reaction can never be anticipated. Study general trends, but avoid drawing unfounded conclusions or overstating the facts.

You should also avoid betting that the future will be a repetition of the past. Just plan what to do should something unexpected happen and make your plans flexible to respond to market dynamics.

#18: The Law of Success

Success leads to arrogance, which leads to failure. Success tends to take objectivity away from marketers.

You have to be careful to avoid early success and failure in the future. Good specialists separate their ego from their work and do not impose their point of view on others, but try to put themselves in the shoes of their clients.

Good people think and react the way the consumer would do when faced with an offer from their brand.

An interesting example is when Ken Olsen, a successful executive at DEC, was introduced to personal computing.

His success prevented him from seeing potential in that product, and DEC never participated in the personal computing revolution.

#19: The Law of Failure

Failure in marketing should be expected and accepted. In marketing, it is better to admit mistakes on time instead of letting the situation continue indefinitely.

As a perfect illustration, it’s not clever to hope all your emails will be delivered to your prospects. You can simply prevent bad deliverability by making email list cleaning a habit.

No one in marketing will ever get it right.

An interesting example: once the mouthwash Listerine was attacked by a competitor called Scope.

They claimed in the campaign that the taste of Listerine was terrible and theirs was better.

Listerine answered the pitch, with the campaign “The taste you hate, 2 times a day”. That has caused consumers to consume more Listerine, and the company has won.

#20: The Law of Hype

The actual situation with any marketing plan is often the opposite of what is reported in the press.

When sales are weak, companies give interviews and say they are OK. When they are strong, companies are silent.

Do not believe in articles generated by press services and pay attention to the small hidden details of what is happening in the market.

There is a big difference between attracting public attention and revolutionizing the market.

Some of the greatest hits in history, such as PC and fax, had very slow sales in the beginning and attracted little press coverage, and some of the more exaggerated concepts, such as the videophone and the Segway, failed.

#21: The Law of Acceleration

Successful marketing plans follow trends, not fads. Fads are short-term occurrences and trends are long-term changes. When a company accelerates too much and starts working with fads, it usually ends in failure.

#22: The Law of Resources

Good ideas did not take off without the proper resources.

Even the best professionals in the world will not get very far if they do not have the resources to reach out to the client.

You need to invest money to get there and even more, money to fix yourself in the minds of consumers.

The authors of the book, Al Ries, and Jack Trout are two professional marketing strategists, considered to be among the best and most known at the international level.

They worked together and have written, together but also separately, a few other useful books worth reading regarding marketing, positioning, and branding.

GetNugget plays its part by introducing the readers to this magnificent masterpiece. Our book summary will help you see the big picture of this book.

“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” endorses the theory that every brand should spend more of its time and energy on marketing activities and avoid getting into dangerous battles with competitors.

Al Ries is also the co-founder and chairman of the Atlanta-based consulting firm Ries & Ries, where he works together with his partner and daughter, Laura Ries while Jack Trout is one of the founders of positioning theory and also marketing warfare theory.

“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing Summary” consists of five marketing principles that are of high importance:

  1. “It’s better to be first than it is to be better. Only a few people are interested in what’s better.”

When you’re a potential customer, you remember which company launched firstly a product and you associate the product with the company.

Of course, not all the time the first products are the best ones and you will search the market for alternatives only if you’re from the category of those ‘few people’ who are looking for quality, who want to test a new product to do a comparison and then decide whose product you’ll remain a loyal customer.

  1. “Marketing is a battle of ideas and perceptions, not a battle of products.”

Some marketers and managers think that marketing is about products.

Actually, marketing is about ideas and perceptions that remain in the minds of consumers regarding a product.

Further on, depending on the type of perceptions the products and the companies created in people’s minds, these ones are going to decide who is winning the battle.

  1. ‘The most effective words are simple and benefit-oriented.’

This quote refers to the Law of Focus, a law that applies all the time in all areas.

As a company, you have to FOCUS: on how perceptions are formed, to focus on being first in the customer´s mind, to focus on facts and reality, to focus on your efforts.

The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. Focusing doesn’t mean choosing the most complicated ways of looking for too complex words to describe you, words that will not be remembered and the goal will not be achieved.

You have to find simple words that describe your company, your product, and your business generally and when you find those words you have to protect them, to prove they are real to benefit from them, and when those words are no longer useful, you must change the words.

  1. “Good things come to those who sacrifice – JackTrout”

The Law of Sacrifice applies not only in business, therefore If you want to be successful today, you should give something up.

  1. ‘Ideas without money are worthless. You need money to get into a mind and to stay in the mind once you get there.’

Actually, The Law of Resources is more complex as there are several aspects to be considered: To promote an idea you have to be prepared to give away a lot for funding, but at the same time – You have to use your idea to find the money, not the marketing help.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing PDF

Also, not all ideas/products need a lot of money [A technical or business product has to raise less marketing money because the prospect list is shorter and media is less expensive.] Probably the best recipe/solution would be: [1. First, get the idea, 2. then go get the money to exploit it.]

The book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” also hijacks certain myths such as the following:

“Many people believe that the basic issue in marketing is convincing prospects that you have a better product or service. Not true.”

“There is a perception that the answer to all marketing questions is money. Not true! One day a few dollars can work a major miracle, but the next day millions of dollars can’t save a company from going under.’

“There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect.”

“If long-lasting is what people want, that’s what we should advertise. Right? Wrong.”

“Creating flavors is a popular way to try to grab market share. More flavors, more share. Sounds right, but it doesn’t work.”

It’s important to keep in mind these 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing together with the authors’ examples, comparisons, and advice. For every law, Al Ries and Jack Trout present various short case studies that can be used as models for both situations:

– When the used strategy has revealed the best results;

– When the used strategy didn’t work as expected.

In conclusion, “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” is a must-read book for people working in marketing and other related areas.

For sure there are many other tips that can help in marketing, but the authors had chosen the fundamental laws of marketing, those immutable laws which can be ‘violated at your own risk’ only!

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

Final Notes:

Understanding the principles that guide the consumer mind is critical to success in the modern world.

Marketing is a constant struggle for a piece of the mind and the customer’s attention, so you must understand how you can shape these perceptions and what perceptions and minds you should attack.

Many marketers want to be number one or emulate what the leader does, but in most cases, this is not the best way. Follow immutable laws, and you will have a winning strategy.

logo 12min

Improve Your Reading Habits in 28 days

Explore key insights and ideas from 2500+ titles in audio and text

logo 12min

Improve Your Reading Habits in 28 days

Explore key insights and ideas from 2500+ titles in audio and text

Scroll to Top