22 immutable laws of marketing
In the first of his series of articles on marketing, Nick Garner introduces the theory behind Reis and Trout’s book The 22 Laws of Marketing.
This is the first in a 24-part series about online marketing, the high-level laws that govern marketing success and how they apply to the igaming industry.
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing was written by Al Reis and Jack Trout in 1994 and has become one of those long burner cult marketing works, which continues to be relevant decades after it was written.
I first heard about this book via Tim Ferris, the San Francisco-based investor and author. He said: “The whole time I was reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, I was thinking that this is a book that should be easily accessible on every business person’s desk.
“I plan to keep it nearby as a reference tool and a way to think about my and other businesses. The 22 laws can be taken in seclusion, but have much more power when considered together. I found myself arguing with the authors about one particular law only to have the next law address my point of contention.”
Once I read the book, a light went on in my head because so many big ideas with marketing strategy just came together. Today I’m able to look at any marketing strategy situation and apply at least one or more of these immutable laws of marketing to make sense of what’s going on.
If you think of the laws of marketing almost like laws within physics, you will be in the right place. For example, we know that gravity is a force that pulls you towards something. With these marketing laws, they are immutable and so you can have confidence in them.
The laws and igaming
Having been in the igaming industry for a very long time, I’ve seen brands come and go and in the past I could never really understand the high-level strategic reasons for their success or failure.
Generally either failure or success begins with some very simple decisions around the market segment these businesses are going to tackle and then over time things get more complex as the specifics of any enterprise develop.
For example, somebody comes up with an idea for setting up a new online casino. The first big decision is which market segment they are going to go for. Who are their competition and how tough is that competition?
On a lower level there might be features and benefits the competition has which you might want to emulate and then finally you’ve got the practical operational side of the business to sort out.
At the very beginning of this whole process is a fundamental question: Which market category are we going to take on?
If you don't have any guiding rules about how market categories work, then you might end up making a huge strategic error. You might think it's time for another mainstream casino brand, a bit like 888. Maybe you think they don't have a large enough games library or some other feature is missing?
If you think of any marketing initiative, it’s ultimately a bet. Your betting that something is going to work Tabcorp made a huge bet on Sun Bets and had to extract itself from the deal, losing around £40m in termination costs.
That’s a bet which obviously went wrong. Why? Because in my opinion whoever made those decisions made a bunch of assumptions around the power of the sun newspaper brand to change player allegiance.
In other words, the category we call mainstream sports betting is locked up by the major incumbent brands. Had the decision-makers understood some of the laws of marketing, they would have realised mainstream betting was not the way forward and Sun Bets could have been a successful sub-category brand.
Here are the 22 immutable laws of marketing:
It's better to be first than it is to be better
If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in
It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the market place.
Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions
The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect's mind.
Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect's mind.
The strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder.
In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race
If you're shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader.
Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time
There's an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand.
You have to give up something in order to get something.
For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute.
When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
Unless you write your competitors' plans, you can't predict the future.
Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.
Failure is to be expected and accepted.
The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press.
Successful programs are not built on fads, they're built on trends.
Without adequate funding an idea won't get off the ground.
In the next 22 articles, I’m going to go through each of these laws of marketing explaining them in depth and giving case study examples of how they apply to any marketing strategy you might be working on.
Next time, we will talk about the law of leadership and how it’s best to be first in a market category.
Nick Garner is founder of Bitcoin casino Oshi.io and has a background in online marketing and marketing strategy. He occasionally consults with igaming brands on marketing strategy and best practice planning for marketing operations.