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In my business (and my personal life), I have found that we often complicate issues until they either become too big to tackle or lost in the confusion. In MicroBranding, Mr. Gross clearly explains that this need not be the case when building a personal or local brand. Using real-world examples, he illustrates that building a powerful microbrand is both attainable and necessary. Understanding that you simply do not need a global brand to compete in your niche is one of the powerful pieces of information I gained from reading this book.
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This is a great book and worth tracking down. And if you like it, check out Ries and Trout's other books, like "Marketing Warfare." Great stuff.
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The book starts with the principle that marketing is primarily about psychology, and making your product synonymous with a category IN THE CONSUMER'S MIND. Coke=cola. McDonald's=fast food. "Marketing Warfare" describes how you can do this, and how you can compete for a position in the consumer's mind if you're in an industry already dominated by a leader.
I learned more solid, applicable concepts from this book than I did from the first year Marketing curriculum of Harvard Business School.
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You will not find the gory details in this book that you'll need to execute a marketing plan, though, but the general theme is examined, as well as various positioning examples (everything from Kleenex to Heinz Ketchup - or was that pickles?).
I was particularly disappointed about a lack of methodology to reach a positioning statement, other than some fairly broad "rules", lightly applied throughout the book. There were six questions at the end that were helpful, but did not constitute a rigorous method - well, any method really - to create a "position". If anything, I would have wished for the method that could be used to create positioning for a product, or to test a company's current positioning, rather than have as many examples of positioning failures.
Some of the author's examples seemed contradictory, and especially when the authors claimed that brand extension amounts to a virtual see-saw - one product steals the brand identity from another (Heinz Ketchup vs. Heinz Pickles - who is Heinz!?). From hindsight, it can be seen that some brand extensions have been extremely successful, while others aren't. It should shock no one that people don't want to use baking soda as anti-perspirant, for instance, and therefore completely explaining why we use Arm & Hammer to cook and deodorize the refrigerator, but do not think of it as a personal hygiene brand. I can't think of anything that I would remove from the refrigerator and rub under my arms.
In any case, this remains a quick, good read with short chapters. The examples illustrate the concepts, but you'll need to follow this up with other positioning and marketing examples in order to position your product within your industry.
I reference these books throughout my marketing courses and seminars. They give students a different perspective and make for interesting discussions.
But how could there be only 5 reviews of this excellent book??? Guess it and Warfare are older books ('81 & '86), so most of us read them before Amazon reviews. RECOMMENDATION: Read them again!
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This book was the best and easiest way to explain to new team members our philosophy. Three years later we were able to meet Al and ask him to join our Board - where his continued application of focus, the brand strength, the increased margins, the stability - all had tremendous payoff. I have read all of his books and if you can only read one - this is it! A great book to give starting Entrepreneurs and pays off large dividends for anyone running a business. It is also a quick read and keeps a fun, macro perspective on the topic.
If you are a CEO or Marketing person you should read this book before you launch next business or marketing plan. This book is full of real examples about real companies (like IBM, Boston Market, Sony, and GE) who continue to fall in the trench when they cross over into a new product or service. The book isn't just rhetoric, but stuffed with practical advice on how to keep ahead of the competition by staying focused.
One my favorite lines from the book (paraphased)- "Butterflies are not called flying caterpillars because, in the mind, you just don't think of a caterpillar as a butterfly. His point being, if you are the market for inexpensive automobile, you are more likely to look at Honda, than BMW's newest low-end car.
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As bottom up managers first find a tactic that will work in the mind and then build it into a strategy (they work from the specific to the general), it is easier for them to exploit new opportunities, which is different from the top down managers that they are limited in the existing market. But remember to focus on only one tactic! Do better with less!
Bottom up marketing also emphasizes on change in the organization so as to find new opportunities in the market. Unless there is change in name, product, service, price but not mind or market, any strategy is unlikely to be successful.
Throughout the book, examples are widely used to show us the success of organizations that conduct bottom up marketing and the failure of those who conduct top down marketing, making it easier to understand.
Read it and try to plan at another angle!
The core focus of this book is the distinction made between strategy and tactics in marketing. A grand strategy is often created that is perfect and executed flawlessly - in the minds of those who create it - The details (tactics) will of course fall into place. This, contend the authors, is how many a marketing campaign is carried out, often without the smashing success expected.
Bottom-Up Marketing is just that, developing a marketing strategy from the bottom up. A successful strategy can be crafted only after the needs, wants, and minds of the consumers are understood. Once the opportunity is identified, tactics are developed to satisfy the need, focus and refine the actions of the company. Once a realistic picture emerges, a strategy can be created such that the entire organization can take the correct actions and take advantage of opportunities that actually exist.
Intelligence about the marketplace and opportunities presented within must come directly from the source, those on the front lines in touch with consumers. Strategy and resource allocation comes from the top.
It's a good book with a clear simple message, combined with a dash of Trout and Ries' humor.
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THE GOOD: 1) Rather than reading like a textbook, this clever work is more like a small handbook of essential marketing ideas. Its 132 pages are divided up into 22 very readable chapters of about 4-5 pages each. It is very easy to take in a chapter at any time and still learn an invaluable lesson about some aspect of catching your prospect's eye. 2) After each chapter I found myself really thinking about the concept, and trying to figure out how I could apply it to my situation. The chapters have enough great information that they really can be considered little packets of motivation. And who doesn't want more motivation to go and make his or her product (or service) even better? 3) Scattered throughout the book are some really great and inspiring examples of companies that have used the 22 Laws to their advantage. The chapter on the Law of Candor explains how Avis effectively played off of its campaign that it was the number 2 rental car company. The Law of Focus talks about how FedEx succeeded by focusing on small packages and overnight delivery. The Law of the Mind shows how Apple computers beat out the Altair 8800 in the late 70's.
THE BAD: I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I can see some areas that other people may not find too attractive. For example, 1) There are no specifics about how to apply each law to your situation, or even how to go about applying it. It is left entirely up to you to see how the law fits your situation, and how you are going to apply it. 2) This book is written like a How-to-win-at-Chess book. It is about the mental dueling that goes on in the marketing world. If you are not into marketing or how to mentally outwit your competition - then you may not like this book.
If you like marketing, clever and witty ideas or the kind of thrill that comes from playing chess then this book is for you! Sure to become a business classic, this book is worth every bit of time and energy spent investing in its powerful concepts.
I will only list those laws that I found most important for me:
Law 3.) The Law of the Mind - It is better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. Examples of this are the personal computer market with MITS Alistair 800 being the first in the marketplace; Apple was the second in the marketplace but first in the mind of the people. The same example is shown with different companies such as Remington Rand and IBM.
Law 4.) The Law of Perception - Marketing is not a battle of products, it's a battle of perceptions. You can have a much better product than your competitor but perception wins out most of the time over product. A great example of this is the battle of the imported japanese car market of Honda, Toyota and Nissan as well as the soft drink war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Law 12.) The Law of Line Extension - There is an irresistable pressure to extend the equity of the brand. One of the best chapters of this book explains how a winning product is turned into a loser by creating a spin-off version of the original product. Marketing managers continue to make this fatal mistake today of taking a successful brank like Coke, then creating Cherry Coke, Coke Classic, Caffine Free Coke etc., Engaging in line extension dilutes the original successful brand and the new version will never recoup the market share lost by the leading product. In the end there is an overall market share drop for the entire brand. Other examples of this is IBM's flirtation with the personal computer market, which was already dominated by the Apples, Commodores and Ataris.
The book is very condensed and I am sure a lot of the business scenarios depicted are more complex than they appear. Yes the book is rather old but a lot of these theories still have held true through the internet boom and bust cycle experienced over the last several years.
All people in the field of marketing should have these laws chiseled into their crainium somewhere.