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When it comes to business in the 21st century, any use of the word “immutable” is exceedingly dangerous. Everything to do with marketing is changing in a frighteningly short time span these days, from how you reach your customers to how you engage with them – so the notion that certain laws are unchanging is, at best, problematic. Within the first few pages of Al and Laura Ries’ book, however, its pretty clear that the truths unearthed are as relevant to a market stall on a Saturday farmers’ market as to an online recruitment agency, and probably won’t require much in the way of subsequent upgrades not now the second edition has included a section on the internet.
Much of the book, which has an approachable, easily-digestible textbook feel, is grounded in a clear-eyed common sense that many marketing professionals might find a little obvious. But, as they point out in their liberal use of real-world case studies, that hasn’t stopped the most prominent companies on the globe from ignoring them – and paying the price. Generic naming (books.com vs amazon.com), stretching your brand into inappropriate areas (the Starbucks café), and competing in an already crowded category (Diet Coke replacing the more successful Tab) are all skewered with considerable verve and wit.
The most important sentence in the whole book, though, and one which ought to be the mantra for everyone involved in marketing and branding is their declaration that “Marketing is building a brand in the mind of the prospect”. In short, it doesn’t matter how good (or frankly bad) your product is, it’s what the market thinks of it. In blind taste tests, Pepsi thrashes Coca-Cola every time, but which brand do Americans buy more of? Easy: the one with the better brand.
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