The Most Important Rule in Life and Business From The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

Of all the 22 laws, this is the most important one. I wouldn’t say that all the 22 laws were immutable. The first few were quite contradictory, so being immutable would place marketers in a rather difficult situation.

However, this was a gem of a law and I believe fundamental not only to marketing, but life as well:

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.

First, the focus needs to be narrowed. What is it exactly that you are selling and what does your company represent? This should be short and concise, it should be easily explained in an image or a slogan and should be something that people can instantly connect with. Nike’s Just Do It is a great example.

In life it is necessary to work out what you want. From all the subjects that we study at school we are constantly narrowing our focus as we progress through university and then into our job. A continual path of specialisation. In life however, it is important not to narrow our focus too much as we may forget everything else that life has to offer. It is useful to, rather than pursue one thing, realise what our priorities are. What do we want to dedicate most of our time and energy to? Then, what are the secondary and tertiary priorities that we have?

Through this process we can work out what we value and where our energy is best spent. This can be reverse-engineered by living our life as we normally would, tracking our time and working out where we spend the most of our time. More often than not the areas we dedicate the most time to are the areas that we value the most. We can also tell when our time is misplaced. If we’re spending half the day getting coffee or going to the toilet, maybe we’re in the wrong job.

Once the focus has been identified, the scope of the operations needs to be narrowed. There is no sense in spending money and labour in areas which are not central to the business and these areas are the first where cost-cutting can be taken. Only the sectors that contribute to the essence of the business should be protected. The saved resources can be diverted into the essential areas of the business, where they will be more productive.

Likewise, in life it is important to cut out those things which do not serve your priorities. Ask yourself why you are doing something (to relax and recharge is a valid answer!), if it does not help to serve your goals, or move you towards the person you want to become, then it may be necessary to cut it out of your life. Getting rid of unnecessary activities will save you time and allow it to be freed up and put to better use. It is amazing how much time we have when we stop using it inefficiently. It should be a top priority to make sure we are using it efficiently.

We need to define ourselves just as much as we need to define our business. We do this so that we can spend our time more effectively and to make sure that the things we truly value are given due care. One of the reasons that it can be so hard to cut out bad habits is that we have nothing to fill the time that cutting them out creates, so it is easy to slip back into the bad habit. In the same way if we have nothing to do in the morning it can be much harder to get out of bed, compared to the day when we had a 3 AM flight for a holiday that we were excited to go on. For this reason it is important to first identify your priorities so that when a bad habit is cut out it can be filled by something that you have identified as being productive and that will be a good use of your time.

Recognise what is the most important to you in life and then channel all your energy and attention into those activities. It makes no sense to waste your time on things that you do not value, or that do not contribute to the life that you want to live. There is no getting back lost time, it is the ultimate finite resource.

All quotes from The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, Al Ries & Jack Trout

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