Law #16: The Law of Singularity

(This entry is part of a series I am writing on The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.)

The Law of Singularity says that "in each situation only one move will produce substantial results".

We literalists will once again have to endure the authors' word choice.  The above statement is almost certainly not true.  :-)

And yet, Ries and Trout make two important points in this chapter, which I will paraphrase as follows:

  • One bold stroke is much better than a bunch of small marketing efforts.
  • Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people.

One Bold Stroke

The pattern is fairly common.  I call it "The Infinite Loop of Marketing Despair":

  1. The product is languishing.
  2. People start asking what to do about it.
  3. Somebody says, "We just need to do more marketing."
  4. The marketing team gets in a conference room and brainstorms.
  5. They come up with ten new ideas and begin executing them all.
  6. Go back to step 1

Part of the problem here is the assumptions we make about the total result we will get from a list of marketing ideas.  We make our list in Excel and for each item we calculate the results that item will generate for us.  And then, at the bottom, we enter SUM(B2:B11).  This is our mistake.  The proper estimate for the total result is closer to MAX(B2:B11). 

The problem is that awareness-building efforts tend to overlap by reaching the same people.  We run banner ads.  We run magazine ads.  The same person sees both ads.  Is that guy going to buy our product twice just because he saw both ads?

The success of our marketing campaigns is defined by the best idea on our list, not the length of that list.  Nonetheless, we continue to make our lists because "Somebody" said we need to do more marketing, and we definitely have to make that Somebody feel better.

The way out of this loop is to find something completely different.  Stop looking for a bunch of ways to increase awareness.  Markets are won with strategy, not tactics.  There is no way you are going to win this war by simply doing more of what you are doing now.

Too Important

Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people. 

The true cause of "The Infinite Loop of Marketing Despair" is Mr. Somebody, the guy in step 3 who apparently believes that throwing more money at the marketing team will actually solve problems.

In the chapter, Ries and Trout are basically saying that Mr. Somebody is "management".  They argue that "management can't afford to delegate important marketing decisions".

For my purposes, I write for the technical geek.  Maybe you're the founder of your small ISV.  Maybe you're a lead developer who cares about the success of your product.  Whoever you are, I would encourage you to step up and be Mr. Somebody.  But don't just push for "more marketing".  Help your organization find the one bold stroke that will make a real difference.