By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Much has changed in the couple of decades since Al Ries and Jack Trout—both highly respected marketing strategists—published The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. At the time, most hospitals didn’t have “branding” in their vocabulary, less than 10,000 websites existed on the still-emerging Internet, medical practices didn’t have a “marketing person,” and social media had yet to be invented.
For commercial and retail businesses, however, marketing and advertising were well-established industries with sophisticated thinking about reaching and influencing consumers.
Ries and Trout’s take on the “laws of marketing” have endured, and their influential books about marketing and branding remain recommended reading. (And just in case you can’t find your dog-eared textbook, the original 22 Laws are outlined below.)
For healthcare marketing, let’s add one more…
There should, in our experience, be at least one more “Immutable Law” that always applies in health care marketing.
The Law of Happiness. People do not buy a medical procedure, service or product. What they shop for—and their reason for buying—is to achieve greater wellbeing for themselves. Call it happiness. Beneath everything else, it’s the one and only reason people buy healthcare.
Our Number 23 also applies somewhat universally to non-medical marketing. A new car. A trip to Las Vegas. A vacuum cleaner. People don’t decide to purchase product; what they truly want to acquire is the emotional experience that follows.
Until or unless your marketing and advertising message touches this emotional experience epicenter, there is little hope of being effective. Challenge yourself: What are you selling?
The (other) 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing….
You’ll want to read the original book and others by Ries and Trout, but here’s the quick reference list.
- Leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better.
- Category: If you can’t be first in a category, setup a new category you can be first in.
- Mind: It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the market place.
- Perception: Marketing is not a battle of products; it’s a battle of perceptions.
- Focus: The most powerful concept in marketing is owning a word in the prospect’s mind.
- Exclusivity: Two companies cannot own the same word in the prospect’s mind.
- Ladder: The strategy to use is dependent on which rung you occupy on the ladder.
- Duality: In the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.
- Opposite: If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the leader.
- Division: Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.
- Perspective: Marketing effects take place over an extended period of time.
- Line Extension: There’s an irresistible pressure to extend the equity of the brand.
- Sacrifice: You have to give up something in order to get something.
- Attributes: For every attribute, there is an opposite, effective attribute.
- Candor: When you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.
- Singularity: In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
- Unpredictability: Unless you write your competitors’ plans, you can’t predict the future.
- Success: Success often leads to arrogance, and arrogance to failure.
- Failure: Failure is to be expected and accepted.
- Hype: The situation is often the opposite of the way it appears in the press.
- Acceleration: Successful programs are not built on fads, they’re built on trends.
- Resources: Without adequate funding an idea won’t get off the ground.
What would you add to this list? In addition to our Law of Happiness, there are a couple more concepts that we’ll propose in a future post. But let us know what you’re thinking and we’ll build out the list for the benefit of other hospital and healthcare marketing professionals.
RELATED READING: The First Thing Every Successful Doctor Should Know about Marketing.