The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

This one is a bit dated, but most the “laws” remain viable. Below are some key takeaways, and applications in eye care. Feedback welcome.

It’s better to be first than it is to be better. The authors argue that it’s easier to get into the mind first than to wait for a market to develop and try to convince people you have a better mouse trap. If you are “first” in a category (new diagnostic technology, specialty service, etc.), promote that category in your marketing.

On that point, marketing is a battle of perception, not products. Regardless of reality, people perceive the “first” as superior. Even when competitors follow suit, the consumer thinks of you. In essence, you have no competition.

It’s difficult to stand out as a brand, it’s easier to stand out in a category. What categories (ie. dry eye, VT) can you excel in?

It’s better to be first in the mind than first in the marketplace. Maybe someone else owns a category but has not promoted it. You can still be first in the consumer’s MIND. Remember, perception is reality.

Marketing is about first impressions. The most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind once it’s made up. Once people perceive you or your practice a certain way, that’s it.

A flawed approach to marketing is to make the product the hero. It’s rarely the product that wins people over, it’s their perception of the product. A subtle but critical distinction.

To further complicate things, consumers frequently make buying decisions based on other people’s perception. When you’re hungry for Italian food, you don’t research the restaurant and the cook. You look at reviews and ask friends for recommendations.

The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the consumer’s mind. Ie. “Overnight” for Federal Express. What word can you own in your community? The most effective words are simple and benefit oriented.

Narrow the focus. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything. Narrowing the focus allows you to build a position in the consumer’s mind.

Don’t ignore trends. For example, over the years there has been a shift toward good health. Fast food restaurants have responded with healthy menu options. Blockbuster is a classic example of a company that ignored trends.

Don’t confuse a fad with a trend. Fads get a lot of hype but come and go. Trends are quiet, but long-lasting and powerful. Fighting trends is a losing proposition.

Avoid or limit the amount of “me too” marketing. Does any practice claim to provide “unquality” eye care? No. Every practice claims to offer quality eye care. It doesn’t tell people anything unique about you.

One area I’ll respectfully disagree with the authors is money. They argue that a LOT of money is needed for marketing to be impactful. This book was pre-social media. That being the case, I don’t think money is still a significant barrier to effective marketing. In the words of Nike, Just Do It!

Book available here: