The Law of Leadership – It’s the Most Fundamental Law in Marketing


We are familiar with the laws of nature and the laws of physics. But are there any laws in marketing?

Yes, there are. Take the Law of Leadership, for example.

“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”.

That’s what Neil Armstrong said when he stepped on the moon.

Armstrong was the very first person to walk on the moon. And everybody knows Armstrong. Rightly so.

But who was the second person? The second person was Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.

Armstrong was the highest in rank during the mission to the moon, so that’s why he went first.

But the second person to walk on the moon is not a lesser achievement. And yet, most people know of Armstrong but not as many know of Aldrin. That’s the Law of Leadership.

In their book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing”, authors Al Ries and Jack Trout talk about the importance of being first in the market.

It’s better to be first than it is to be better. That’s what the Law of Leadership is all about.

Most people believe that the basic issue in marketing is convincing prospects that you have a better product or service. But that is a very difficult route to take.

It’s far simpler, Ries and Trout argue, to get into the mind of your audience first than to convince them you have a better product.

The reason for that is that the first person in the market is the first person in people’s mind. The second is automatically lesser known.

Are you not convinced yet of the Law of Leadership? Consider this: after World War II, Heineken was the first imported beer to make a name for itself in America. Four decades later, what’s the No. 1 imported beer? That’s right: Heineken.

We won’t objectively test which beer tastes best. It’s because Heineken was first in the market that they were first in the mind. And that they’re still first, to this very day.

By following the Law of Leadership, you can become a true market leader. Look at Gilette, for example, who was the first safety razor. Or Xerox, who was the first copier. And Tide, who was the first laundry detergent. They’re all market leaders still today.

Following the Law of Leadership doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to come up with an entirely new industry to be the first in. You might also be the first in a new category. Or the first to do things differently than how things were done before.

The first person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo was Charles Lindbergh. Well-known.

The second person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo was Bert Hinkler. Not so well-known.

But the third person to fly the Atlantic Ocean solo was Amelia Earhart. Very, very well-known. Why? Because she was the first woman to do so.

Don’t think marketing is a battle of products and services. It’s not. Marketing is a battle of perceptions.

Follow the Law of Leadership and you’ll quickly become the first in the mind of your audience.


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