“There Are No Best Products” – Ries and Trout

Here are two rather shocking quotes from a 1993 marketing classic – ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing‘, by Al Ries & Jack Trout:

“Many people think marketing is a battle of products. In the long run, they figure, the best product will win.” (page 19, Chp 14, ‘The Law of Perception’.)

And further down the same page, they make this claim:

“It’s an illusion. There is no objective reality. There are no objective facts. There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.”

22 Immutable-laws-of marketing

Although this book was written in the pre-Internet era, I think it has aged remarkably well and there’s much still of relevance to marketers and copywriters.

A Japanese Men’s Retailer Has Me Perceive Incredible Value From Contrast

Here in Tokyo, sales staff at an up market Men’s retailer recently used what can be called the ‘law of contrast’ on me to good effect.

I occasionally have to attend formal functions and was looking to buy a decent suit. Once the saleswoman in a mid-range Men’s retailer had established my need (and my budget!), she proceeded to help me find what I wanted.

And then administered the coup de grace… just as I was giving her back the new trousers for some minor modifications, she casually said:

“Sir, and one more thing, if you choose this suit you can have another one like it for only (the Yen equivalent of) $20.”

Wow! Did I not see that one coming…

So I scampered back into the main part of the store and picked out what I saw as the bargain of the year. A $500 suit for $20!

Of course, I then had to have some accessories to match these items – with the end result being that she sold me on about $200 more than the original budget I went in with!

I’d read somewhere (Cialdini?) that clothes retailers will often have the sales staff first sell at the high end of the customer’s budget, as it then becomes an easier job to sell a raft of less expensive (by contrast) items to complete the new look.

‘Sure worked on me!

Now, although the sales cycle may be longer and more complicated, I suspect the same psychology (perceived value plus contrast) works well for a lot of high technology purchases.

Not sold?

Read again this sentence from Ries and Trout’s book:

All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect.

– Mark McClure

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About the Author
Author: Mark McClure - A freelance b2b case study and white paper writer to the computer networking industry. Based in Tokyo, Japan. About the 'Samurai Writer'.

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