The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Do you realize that many public schools celebrate SAINT Patrick’s Day!  With “Christmas vacation” turning to “Winter recess” and Easter break becoming “Spring break,” I wonder how long it will take before March 17 becomes “Green Day,” and the season of recycling can begin until its endpoint on April 22 – “Earth Day.”

A number of years ago, the principals of the Diocese in which I worked completed a seminar where “Marketing is Education” was the theme. Near the end of the day, it was noted that one of the “marks” of our Catholic schools is the ease of access that a parent has to teachers and administration. A few minutes later, several of the principals pointed out that the role of the teacher and school administrator is much more difficult today than in was in the past.  While they were trained in pedagogy and learning strategies, they felt as if they were acting more as counselors to parents, which consumes the time that could be directed to teaching.

But isn’t that what happens when you provide the parent with an ease of access to teachers and administration?

That outcome reminded me of one of the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, a watershed text by Al Ries and Jack Trout, first published in 1994.  Law #15 is The Law of Candor: When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive. Who said that teachers are only “called” to teach those that can fit into small desks? Could it be that in finding these types of connections, we will find what our schools of the future will look like?

Finding negatives is a way for businesses to expand their customer base, create marketing strategies, or position themselves in their customer’s mind. That also leads to Law #7 – The Law of The Ladder: What strategy you use depends on the position you occupy on the ladder. One of the most memorable campaigns for this is Avis. As the #2 car rental company, they let everyone know that “We try harder.”

These 22 laws provide some interesting food for thought for educators.  As in everything marketing-oriented, not everything may be applicable to your school’s situation.  However, if you’ve been a frequent visitor to this site, you know that creativity is all about making connections between things that seem “unconnectable.”  In most months of the year, there are  22 business days, so you can focus on one of these each day, and examine how it can pertain to your school…and isn’t this season of Lent all about self-examination?

Before listing them, realize that Law #22 is not a cause for despair – it’s a reason to have a viable and vibrant development program…no matter what anyone thinks.

Title: The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing
Authors: Al Ries and Jack Trout

Overview and Key Themes
A thought-provoking look at marketing strategy in general. Marketing means a lot of things to different people. This book is not going to give you textbook definitions; this is more about principles to bring to bear on your marketing thinking.

The 22 Immutable Laws:

  1. The Law of Leadership
    It’s better to be first than it is to be better. The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. For instance, most people know who flew across the Atlantic first, but not second.
  2. The Law of Category
    If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in. For instance most people don’t know who flew across the Atlantic third, but they know who the first woman to do that was.
  3. The Law of the Mind
    It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. For example, Altair 8800 was the first personal computer, but Apple became first in the mind (remember Apples for the Students?  Fast-forward to today – what do people think “first” when they think “Personal Computer?”  Is that changing again?).
  4. The Law of Perception
    Marketing is not a battle of products; it is a battle of perceptions.
  5. The Law of Focus
    The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind. For instance, “Go Xerox this” or “Can you FedEx that for me?”
  6. The Law of Exclusivity
    Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.
  7. The Law of the Ladder
    What strategy to use depends on which rung you occupy on the ladder. For example, Avis is 2nd;  therefore, “We try harder.”
  8. The Law of Duality
    In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race. For instance, Coke v. Pepsi, McDonald’s v. Burger King. Sure, sometimes there are three…but give it a little more time before #3 becomes a “specialty” brand.
  9. The Law of the Opposite
    If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader.  For instance, Coke was an “old” soft drink, so Pepsi went successfully for “The choice of a new generation.”
  10. The Law of Division
    Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
  11. The Law of Perspective
    Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time.  Therefore, it is NOT a short-term strategy – it is a “medium-term” strategy.
  12. The Law of Line Extension
    There is an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand.  That is, to deviate from what one does best in order to increase market share and therefore, profitability.
  13. The Law of Sacrifice
    You have to give up something in order to get something.  For instance, Federal Express sacrificed other air freight options for small packages to be delivered overnight, and therefore owned the word “overnight.”  Other competitors had to develop new words, like “next-day.”
  14. The Law of Attributes
    For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute. For example, Crest toothpaste fights cavities, but Aquafresh freshens breath AND whitens teeth.
  15. The Law of Candor
    When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
  16. The Law of Singularity
    In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results. In a military sense, this is called the line of least expectation.
  17. The Law of Unpredictability
    Unless you write your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future.
  18. The Law of Success
    Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.  Beware when you get there.  How will you know you’re successful?  It depends on your strategic plan.  If you don’t have one, failure will come sooner.
  19. The Law of Failure
    Failure is to be expected and accepted.  Use it as a learning process.
  20. The Law of Hype
    The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press. When companies are successful, they feel they can cut back on their marketing.  Then when things start a downward trend, they feel they have to market more – but it’s usually the first area where expenses are cut.
  21. The Law of Acceleration
    Successful programs are not built on fads; they’re built on trends. What does your year to year enrollment trend look like?  What does your year to year development dollars raised total look like?  What does your retention ratio trend look like?  What does your successful tuition capture percentage trend look like?
  22. The Law of Resources
    Without adequate funding, an idea won’t get off the ground.

If you’d like to check out the book, visit this link.  While there, you can also check out Jack Trout’s book on “Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind,” and Al and Laura Ries’ “22 Immutable Laws of Branding.”  The concepts of Branding and Positioning work with your “Case” statement to create a marketing message specific to your school.  Then, to assist in creating a marketing plan for your school, you can check out my text, “Marketing: A 12-Step Plan to Increase Inquiries to Your School by visiting this link.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2015 (Original Publication Date: 20050314)