The Law of Focus

I am revisiting a book I read called The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. The law that I think is most important, and the one I keep emphasizing to my students, is the law of focus. The more narrowly you can define your audience, the more effective your marketing will be. If you can give your ideal customer a name and a story, you have started to personalize your marketing (thank you Anderson Wiese @2wav for introducing me to this process). Focus also applies to what your business offers.

“The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.”

—Al Ries & Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

The authors suggest owning a word. For example, Volvo owns “safety.” Crest owns “cavities.” Coke owns “cola.” Many of their examples are now dated, and refer to only fortune 500 companies. I think that smaller companies can also benefit from focus. Stake out your niche and own it. Become the best of class in your narrowly defined category. What word are you going to own?

It occurred to me that most of my clients consider themselves best in class. I work for the best water treatment company in the Chicago area. And the best mediator in Illinois. And the best farmland auction company in the Midwest. And the best independent gynecologist in the region. And the best state university in the country. It is this drive to be the best that makes attention to every detail essential. That includes professional design. You know when something looks well-designed, even if you don’t have the words to explain exactly why.

The book presents a lot of ideas that are counter-intuitive, and I like that. The authors suggest that presenting reasons that your brand is better won’t work as well as creating a new category and being the only choice. What is the one thing that only you can provide? That is where your marketing focus should be.

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