1. The Law of Leadership

‘It’s Better to Be First Than to Be Better’

The first person to cross the Atlantic was Charles Lindbergh but few people would remember the name of the second pilot even though his effort was superior on several counts.

  1. The Law of Category

‘If You Can’t Be First, Create Your Own Category and Be First In That’

The third person to make that solo Atlantic flight is not famous as the third person to accomplish this feat but rather because she was the first woman to do so, making her the first in her own category.  She was of course – Amelia Earhart.

  1. The Law of Mind

‘It’s Better to Be First Into the Mind Than Into the Marketplace’

It doesn’t matter if you are first unless people perceive you to be.

  1. The Law of Perception

‘Marketing Is Not a Battle of Products, It Is a Battle of Perceptions’

The only things that really exist are the perceptions in the minds of customers.  There is no “objective reality”, only peoples’ ideas of it.  Their perceptions are their truths, even if they have them second hand or they are derived from so-called “common knowledge”.

  1. The Law of Focus

‘Owning a Word in the Prospect’s Mind is the  Most Powerful Marketing Tool in the World’

The best words to own are simple ones.  It is always better to go for one word than two or more, no matter how complex the product.  Beware:  You can’t take someone else’s word and it’s hard indeed to escape from your own once established.

  1. The Law of Exclusivity

‘Two Players Cannot Own the Same Word’

Trying to change peoples’ minds by muscling in on someone else’s word is at best futile.  At worst, it will boost their position by making the concept they have run on seem so important that others are out to copy it.  You lose both ways.

  1. The Law of the Ladder

‘The Best Strategy Depends On Which Rung of the Ladder You Hold’

For every product category there is a hierarchy of brands – a ‘ladder’ of customer perceptions.  For second or third rung holders, trying to market as though you are number one contravenes the law of the ladder.  Your claim looks dubious because it doesn’t fit with their perceptions.

  1. The Law of Duality

‘Over the Distance, Every Marketing Race Comes Down to Two Horses’

New products or categories can have lots of rungs to their ladders.  The overwhelming tendency however is for rungs to drop off until there are only two.

  1. The Law of the Opposite

‘When Aiming For Second, Your Strategy is Determined By the Leader’

Your strategy as a number two company must be derived from studying the leader.  Where is their central strength?  How can you turn it against them?  You can never beat them trying to be the same.  The key usually lies in doing just the opposite.


  1. The Law of Division

‘Markets Divide Into Categories Over Time’

Marketing is a limitless ocean of potential because markets themselves tend to split and breed like single cell organisms.

  1. The Law of Perspective

‘The Effects of Marketing Unfold Over a Long Period’

The long term results of a campaign are often the direct opposite of its initial effect.

  1. The Law of Line Extension

‘The Pressure to Extend a Brand’s Equity is Virtually Irresistible’

This law is strongly connected to the previous one since the effects of breaking it can take some years to show themselves.  Trying to give a new product a free ride on the back of a successful one often leads to disaster.

  1. The Law of Sacrifice

‘To Get Something, You Have To Give Something Away’

Success has a price.  The best marketing efforts have required big sacrifices to achieve leadership.  Those sacrifices usually come in one of three areas : target market, product line or constant change.  Success lies in culling products, not letting them breed like rabbits.

  1. The Law of Attributes

‘To Every Attribute, There Is an Effective and Opposite Attribute’

The marketing war is fraught with ideas.  You must have a central idea or product attribute to centre on.  Trying to copy the success of the leading product very rarely works.  It is much better to seek out an attribute of yours which is the opposite of the rival’s chief quality.

  1. The Law of Candour

‘Admit a Negative, Gain a Positive’

Admitting to a negative perception can get you further in the minds of customers than the biggest advertising budget in the world.  Whatever you say in your own favour is doubtful at best.  Anything you say against yourself is accepted as truth.

  1. The Law of Singularity

‘In Any Given Situation, Only One Move Will Get the Best Results’

The only thing that really works in marketing is the one, big, bold stroke.  Marketing strategies composed of a multitude of small, subtle tactics are often a waste of resources.

  1. The Law of Predictability

‘ No One Can Predict the Future’

Nearly all marketing strategies make assumptions about the future.  What you need is a good short term plan that provides the crucial word or marketing angle to set you or your product apart in the minds of customers.  This should be backed long term with a logical approach to build on the strength acquired by that idea.

  1. The Law of Success

 ‘Success Frequently Leads to Arrogance, Which Leads to Failure’

‘Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall’- Proverbs 16:18.

The most dangerous foe of marketing success is ego.  The ‘early success syndrome’ often lies behind the outbreaks of line extensions.  It is assumed that the brand’s name is the reason for its success, when in fact the opposite is true.

  1. The Law of Failure

‘Failure Must Be Expected and Accepted’

The worst failures grow from the inability to admit a mistake.  Mistakes are inevitable.  The skill of cutting losses by acknowledging them early is as invaluable as it is rare in most corporate cultures.

  1. The Law of Hype

‘The True Situation is Often the Opposite of What Appears in the Press’

The ground is littered with examples of products that got tremendous press hype and had nothing to show for it.  When a company is sweeping all before it, you rarely hear them talking about it.  Winners don’t need hype.  When companies pursue it, it often signals trouble.


  1. The Law of Acceleration

‘Successful Programmes are Built On Trends, Not Fads’

Fads are very short term phenomena.  They are very visible and can be highly profitable but only if those who cash in on them recognise them for what they are.  Trends are slower and barely visible but ultimately are extremely powerful and quite unstoppable.  Treating fads like trends is a common and fatal mistake.

  1. The Law of Resources

‘Without Adequate Funding, An Idea Won’t Get Off the Ground’

It is sad but true: Successful marketing requires money.  A great idea plus nothing equals zero.  A mediocre idea and a million dollar marketing budget adds up to much, much, more.  The Law of Resources says that, without enough money to support it, your great idea is destined to remain just that.


From a book titled “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” written by Al Reis and Jack Trout.