The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing – #4 The Law of Perception

One of the books that best shaped my thinking on marketing and product management early in my career was The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout. The book, still relevant today, distills the complex world of marketing and product positioning into some very simple truths. I’ll periodically touch on a “law”, in no particular order, starting with #4 – The Law of Perception.

This law spawned one of my favorite mantras for software product marketing, “marketing is not a battle of products, it’s a battle of perceptions.” No truer words have been stated in the software marketing world. So many times, companies are befuddled by competitors who seem to have an inferior product, but take customers and marketshare from them. The answer? The best product doesn’t win. Rather, it’s what the customer thinks of your product vs. the competition and what they think it will do for them. Does BMW make a better, faster, higher quality car than Hyundai? 99% of consumers don’t really know the true facts, but 99% of consumers have a perception of which car is better.

That’s why the role of marketing is so important, especially early in the customer buying cycle. You need to be able to influence the buyer and their perceptions early to establish your position in their mind. Now, it’s certainly preferred that that perception is based on true facts (weighed in your favor, of course!), but your potential buyers will form their own truths based on their own perceptions. It’s the role of marketing to help shape those perceptions.

Photo credit to Zsido Ovidiu Flaviu via original source 500PX.