How do The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing hold up now that the internet has fundamentally changed the way that marketing operates and people digest media and use products? This blog series will look at the 22 Immutable Laws, one at a time, to determine what has stood the test of time, and where the new rules of marketing have overturned the old laws.
Part 2: The Law Of The Category
If you can’t be the first in your category, set up a new category you can be first in.
This will likely be a short post. That’s not because the second Immutable Law Of Marketing doesn’t deserve as much consideration as the others, but because it’s such a fundamental part of the current marketing ecosystem that it would sound silly to go into too much detail.
The concept of creating new sub-categories of products or services in which you are the sole competitor is so ingrained in today’s tech-centric business market that its language is nearly ubiquitous in thumbnail descriptions of new companies. Facebook was first to dominate the social network category, but Instagram found success as the social network specifically focused on sharing images. Slack is the messenger platform for business teams. Tesla isn’t a car company – it’s an electric car company. Wayfair is the Amazon of home decor. Steam is the Amazon of online gaming. Steep and Cheap is the Amazon of camping gear. Etc, etc. This is the key sentiment that leads to the catchy piece of corporate jargon, “think small.”
If the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing had been written in 2018, the Law of the Category would be first in the table of contents, not second. Its increase in relevance over the last 25 years could be directly attributed to the tools that are available to marketers today – specifically, tools that change how we target our customers.
Before 2005-ish, the traditional methods of advertising changed only slightly. Since the advent of widespread TV viewership, the main options for reaching your preferred customers all involved some version of carpet-bombing as many people as you can with ads and hoping that some of them buy your product. It makes sense, then, that since your audience was nearly “everybody,” you had to build your product or service to appeal to as many of those viewers as possible.
Thank God (or thank Silicon Valley) that’s no longer the case. Now, you can build a company based on an incredibly niche market segment and, with the 3rd-party data targeting options available, market your product only to that tiny segment of weirdos who are actually interested in buying it. Not only that, but you can do it with the same efficiency and scalability – basically the same tools – that you would when marketing to a broad audience.
Again, I’m keeping this short and sweet, but suffice to say the Law of the Category is at least as relevant as it ever was, and probably even more so. With our ability to hyper-target to increasingly specific market segments, the sky’s the limit for how small you can think.
#2: The Law Of The Category