Summary: Bottom-Up Marketing: Review and Analysis of Ries and Trouts Book

Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
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It gets dogmatized, interpreted into constantly narrower and inflexible prescriptions….

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There is not, and cannot be, any rigid and lasting interpretation of what the marketing concept means in the specific ways a company should operate at any given time. One could not agree more. Second, any result in business is generally an outcome of joint efforts of many departments, so that it is often impossible to attribute anything solely to a marketing idea. For instance, better distribution and logistics may compensate for poor marketing decisions, and vice versa. But some denizens of the marketing ivory tower could not dis agree more. The equivocal laurels of alchemists seem to have been an envy of two venerable authors of a series of marketing bestsellers, Al Ries and Jack Trout, for more than 25 years — so they claim!

As a result of their Herculean exertions, the humanity has gotten a most valuable offering in the form of all of 22 "immutable" laws of marketing. True, some reviewers suggested Law 23 — there is nothing immutable in marketing. But who cares! The book is said to be enjoying fantastic sales. The book is fantastic indeed. That is to say it is a remarkable piece of marketing fantasy.

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It reminded me of Bolshevik texts I had had to read during my Soviet student days: they also expounded fascinating theories that had had nothing to do with real life. Or they could refute suggestions that marketing is love for the Client and remind the dissidents that marketing is primarily a rigid war with the competitors. As is customary with the authors, they do not support their statements with data and statistics. They just proclaim. Some of their dogmas are cloned from one book to another; others contradict dogmas they expound in their other writings.

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But in the ocean of situations in marketing you can find examples of virtually whatever, including mutually exclusive ones. An unscrupulous author can hand pick cases that illustrate his statement, while overlooking a sea of those that do not. They simply snatch from a stack of facts those that tally with their opinion at a given moment of time.

The authors have serious problems with logic nearly in any paragraph; most of their statements are far-fetched.

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Their favorite trick is to make a military-style statement without any proofs and substantiations, and then to make tactical inferences that are yet farther from real life. To be sure, there are immutable laws of nature, which allow unambiguous predictions of the behavior of physical and other objects. But that in no way whatsoever suggests that there must be rigorous laws in other fields of human endeavor, such as management, philosophy, medicine, embroidery, cabinet making, ship building, wheat growing, or… marketing!

There is not a single piece of marketing knowledge that would allow one to predict anything.

Positioning Summary

Jan 13, Dean Millson rated it really liked it. Schaefer is another leading authority in marketing, not to mention, a college professor, consultant, and best-selling author of five marketing books. In names, stick with common descriptive words e. This page is being revised. In other words, it attempted to address the question, What work does marketing do?

Least of all there is anything immutable in marketing, except for one thing — the need to look at everything from the perspective of His Majesty the Client. Having persuaded themselves but not the reader, I hope law 4 that there is no truth on earth, the authors make an interesting inference: "If truth is so illusive, why is there so much discussion in marketing about so-called facts, with so many marketing decisions based on factual comparisons? By the end of the book, you get tired a bit from overt and tacit contradictions, of alogisms and syllogisms, and even of sheer stupidities.

The authors have also problems with language. Most of their formulations are strikingly ambiguous. How do they define the first place? By market share, profits, capitalization, or whatever? A company with the largest market share may be not the most profitable. And how do they work out that share? On a regional, national, international, or global scale? For instance, Coca-Cola either against Pepsi-Cola, or in the entire beverage category? The authors are not interested in the possibility and desire of the real Client to be involved in that "positioning.

They do not understand that people have personal resources: time, attention, memory, interestedness, desire to strain oneself, etc. People have to spend those scarce resources on themselves, their families, work, and hobbies. Do they want to spend them on categories and trade names? Sometimes yes, when they are in a buying mood; but mostly not. Normally, they treat marketing communications, especially advertising, as information pollution. What is the percentage of categories an average person knows of? Not very high. The same concerns trademarks.

I have performed experiments with student audiences asking them to draft within a couple of days a list of tradenames that would come to their young minds.

Book summary, notes, and review

The results ranged from to Even if we include passive awareness, the figure will be negligible against the millions of names in the market. In cars, for instance, respondents could tell something about Rolls-Royce, Mercedes, Volvo, and Toyota, but questions about the differences between Suzuki or Isuzu, Mazda or Hyundai, Renault or Peugeot, etc. The perception is the reality.

Everything else is an illusion. In business, it is better to make much money. Brace yourself for hard work — we will have to clear a mess of loose and incongruous statements of our venerable authors. By the way, you cannot be just "better," you can only be better than somebody.

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How do authors keep score: by market share, profits, capitalization? How about NON-leaders? Off with their heads? Not true.

The 22 immutable laws of marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout - Animated Video Review

Millions of SMEs do no battle. They just supply mundane products and services to their neighborhoods. By the way, most firms have not the slightest idea of their market share. You violated the first law of marketing. Just think of that — if your share is small, you are wrong! From the very beginning at that. To comply with this "law," the next day after the establishment of your company you must become the leader of the pack. A striking discovery! It transpires that all the organizations in a category, except for one first , follow a faulty marketing strategy.

Thank God, millions of SMEs are unaware of being violators of some funny ivory-tower laws. To recap, the above suggests that 1 you should not convince prospects; 2 you should not improve products; 3 all minus one first in a category pursue faulty marketing strategies. It's nuts! Millions of firms fare well without creating a category, many category creators go belly up.

What specifically is supposed to be gotten into the mind?

If it is just a name, experience shows that without selling points, i. Not so easy to answer, is it? A further piece of funny reasoning!


I wonder by the way what percentage of people on earth have ever heard about some guy called Charles Lindbergh? And even about Americo Vispucci Or maybe every shopper should be given a list of firsts in hundreds of categories? Who knows of it? And who cares? Suppose then that Clients do know the first in a specific category. So, what of that?

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Does it guarantee that the first will be the best-selling product? For instance, the concepts of the Apple computer, the laser printer, the mouse, and what not, were proposed by Xerox. But who made more money on those inventions? Even in copiers Xerox is no leader anymore. Markides and Paul A.


If, of course, you respect the readership. And if you do not want to make fools of yourselves. It took me much effort to clarify the situation to the uncaring public. The authors could browse Yellow Pages only to find, much to their academic surprise, dozens or even hundreds of flourishing building contractors, forwarders, hospitals, banks, law firms, etc. Another funny piece: Ries with Trout preach — forget about the brand, think in terms of categories.

It is better to be first in the mind than first in the marketplace. Is it really? Manufacturers of rarely bought products may be "first in the marketplace" but on nobody's mind at all. This is readily tested. In whose mind, by the way? Or concerning radiators, plumbing, coffins, and so on? The Rolls-Royce car, for instance, has always been the first in the mind as a luxury car, but a couple of times it was on the verge of collapse.

The authors seem to be fond of subjective idealism maintaining that there is neither objective reality, nor better products. But what produces a perception of a product, if any?