22 Laws of Marketing Pt. 1

I listen to a lot of podcasts. I think I’m subscribed to about 10 weekly podcasts. They range from leadership and personal development to how to have a business from self-publishing. During one of the podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show, a particular book was recommended. Tim believes that anyone with a serious interest in marketing their products needs to be familiar with a particular book. “22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.” I just finished the book and wanted to share a summary of each law. I broke this into 2 parts because a brief summary of 22 different laws can be quite long. Are you ready for a quick overview of a book I’m about to begin testing? Alright! Let’s Go!

Law # 1:Law of Leadership

This law says that you need to be first in a marketing category. If you can’t be first in an established category, create a new category you can be first in. Example: Charles Lindburg was the 1st person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Who was the second? Who was the third?

The third person who flew across the Atlantic was Emelia Earhardt. But we don’t know her as that. We know her as the 1st Woman to fly across the Atlantic.


Law # 2: Law of Category

Set up a new category that you can leave a first impression in the minds of would-be customers. People are interested in new category. They are not interested in new brands in an established category. You want to be first in the mind of people, not necessarily first in chronology. Get first place in your own category and you’ve started to leave your first impressions.

Law # 3: Law of the Mind

Being 1st in the mind is everything in marketing. The marketplace is not where the battle is fought. The mind is. If you’re first in the mind, it doesn’t matter if your first on the market. First in the market only gives you a leg up to establishing yourself as first in the mind.

Law # 4: Law of Perception

Perception is everything. There is no objective reality, only what we perceive as reality. Most people believe their sense of perception is infallible. The only thing they can be sure about is what they perceive. So in marketing, perception and truth blend together in a person’s mind.

Law # 5: Law of Focus

In order to cause customers to perceive a product is 1st and best, we need to narrow our focus to one word. We need to own that word in people’s minds. Focus everything that our product/business is about into one (simple) word. and own it with gusto.

Law # 6: Law of Exclusivity

Two competitors cannot own the same word. Once a word is owned by another company, if we try to steal it for ourselves, it will backfire and end up benefiting our competition.

Law # 7: Law of the Ladder

The way we do marketing well is contingent upon knowing where we stand in the ranking of people’s minds. The analogy is of a ladder. Our position is a rung on the ladder. Are we rung number 1, or 2, or 3, or more?

There is also the question of whether this is a high-interest or low-interest item.

High-interest are products we use everyday. These will have many rungs (usually up to 7 in people’s minds). Note: Additional High-interest products are reflective of personal pride (automobiles, cameras,etc.)

Low-interest are products bought infrequently. These have fewer rungs. (lawn mowers, furniture, etc.)

Here the author’s point out that it can be better to 3rd on a large ladder than to be 1st on a small ladder. You can use your relative rung position to increase sales.

In terms of market share, it normally breaks down as 4-2-1 ratio.

Where you are on the ladder rung determines your market share. You’ll generally have 50% more share than the competitor below you and 1/2 the share of the competitor above you.

Law # 8: Law of Duality

In the long run, there will eventually be just 2 major hitters in a category. Think Coke & Pepsi, IBM and Apple. Those leaders will end up with the lion’s share of the market. You really only have a chance to succeed in the beginning of a category if you are ranked 3rd or 4th. By the time the category is established, customers believe the top 2 must be the best because they are the top 2.

Law # 9: Law of the Opposite

Anyone not on the top rung needs to be looking for weaknesses in the leader. Those weaknesses will be the spots where our sales can be capitalized.

You find the essence of the leader and present the opposite to the customer. This is because customers seem to fall into two categories: Those that buy from the leader. Those that don’t. If you can launch a good opposite campaign against the leader, you will be able to win over the second group. Doing this well will bring you to the #2 position and take sales away from positions 3 and on.

Law # 10 Law of Division

Categories divide over time. Just like countries, categories will eventually divide. The one at the top in the first category is rarely the one at the top after the division. In order to combat this, the leader of the main category will need to enter each category with a different brand name. Think GM: Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiach, Chevrolet.

Also, with the law of division, timing is important. You don’t want to be too early on the dividing, nor too late. In all, you can’t force the division prematurely.

Law # 11: Law of Perspective

Marketing is driven by perspective. If you are marketing for short-term financial gains, you will act one way. If you are marketing for long-term growth, you’ll act another way. The authors say the effects of marketing are much like the effects of alcohol. The short-term effects and the long-term effects are usually opposite. This is the problem with sales. Companies put on sales over and over. There are 2 negative consequences to it. 1. The initial sale spike isn’t sustainable, so more sales have to be given to keep the numbers up. It becomes like a drug where the withdrawal is too painful. 2. It conditions customers to never pay full price. Thus you rarely have customers buying things in ways that turn profits.

All evidence points to short-term financial driven marketing negatively effects business results in the long-term.


So those are the first 11 of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. The book was written in the 1990s, but it sounds like their laws are pretty timeless. In the coming season, I’m hoping to start marketing with these laws in mind.

What are your thoughts? Did you find this article helpful or insightful? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for tuning it. Here at the TMWilliamsauthor page, it is my goal to Expand Your Mind Through the Power of Words.