The most important thing I learned after reading after this book is that there are no immutable laws of marketing. No I don’t mean the whole book is bullshit. In fact it is a good book. It is very concisely written and is filled with practical advice.
The problem with the book is “marketing.” To market the book the authors used the word “immutable” and while writing the book they have taken a stance like - if you are going to violet the laws, you are bound to fail. To prove this the authors give many existing failures of the companies who ignored the laws and failed. At the same time the authors also make predictions like – xxx company or xxx product is going to fail because they don’t adhere with the laws presented in the book. This is where the problem is. Some of such predictions are bound to fail.
The book was first published in 1993. Now, in 2007 a lot of their predictions about IT industry don’t hold true. For example, take the first three laws mentioned in the book,
The Law of Leadership & The Law of the Category – says that to be successful you must be first in the market, and rather than trying to be better in existing categories you should try to find a new category where you can be the first.
The Law of the Mind – says that if you can’t be the first in the marketplace then using marketing become the first in the customer’s mind.
Which was the first search engine? I don’t know. So googled to find it. It came up with a wikipedia entry which says that the first search engine was - the Archie Search Engine. Have you ever heard of it? Then one of the first full text crawler based search engine was WebCrawler which was launched in 1994. It was later bought by America Online who later sold it to Excite. After Excite went bankrupt it was acquired by InfoSpace in 2001. Is WebCrawler no. 1 today?
Ok so which was the first search engine that became popular? This can be AltaVista or Yahoo. Is one of these the no. 1 search engines today? No. The no. 1 search engine to day is Google. Why? Simply because it is better than the rest.
Also, while explaining the law of line extension the authors criticize Microsoft that it want to become leader in every category. And they predict that –
“Microsoft is setting itself up as the next IBM, with all the negative implications the name suggests.”
Where as Microsoft is one of the most successful software companies of all time. And they have the no. 1 position in key software categories such as operating systems, and office suite. The most of their ventures are successful. Yes their hardware division was not always as successful, but to succeed one has to try. And while trying there are going to be some failures. If Microsoft had never tried, how could have they found out the Xbox 360?
OK, now I am aware you are thinking the Microsoft’s monopoly trade practices and the corresponding lawsuits. But that is another subject altogether. And despite of that we can’t ignore that Microsoft has delivered exceptional financial results over a long period of time.
But despite of the above motioned flaws, the book presents some key fundamental marketing concepts in very simple language that everybody can understand. And if you want to start to read about marketing, this book will make a very good introduction to the field of marketing. And the book is really thin, around 135 pages or so.
My verdict: A must read for every marketing student.
Overall Rating: 4/5