Immutable Marketing Laws for Writers

Immutable Marketing Laws for Writers

I watched a video with Tim Ferriss the other day, in an attempt to find some quality sourcing advice for a new product I’m entertaining in my head. Tim Ferriss wrote the Four Hour Work Week, along with several other books. He’s an excellent businessman, and I tend to listen to what he has to say because he never seems to fail.

In the video he recommended a single book for anyone who plans on marketing a product or service or work of art. This book is the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. I listened to the book through my Audible account in just two days. You all probably know plenty of marketing lists to help writers out, but this book is a gold mine for marketing. Scratch everything else you learned from marketing class or books, and take a look at this book.

It basically busts the myths that so many companies and individuals continuously follow. The coolest part is that you can easily relate it to your writing.

I did just that in today’s post, so brace yourself for Joe Warnimont’s interpretation on the immutable laws of marketing for writers.

Be the First to do Something or Create a Category

Many companies became rich and famous by following a simple principle: If you can’t be first in a category, create a new category to be first in.

This quote outlines the idea that you’ll have a tough time making moves in a market if you simply copy off the leader in the industry and try to make something better. If you aren’t the first to do something then no one will remember you. However, if you create your own category you are more likely to be remembered and followed. The example used by Al Ries and Jack Trout is how Charles Lindburgh became the first man to fly across the Atlantic solo.

Few remember the second man to complete the feat, even though Bert Hinkler flew more efficiently than Lindburgh. No one would ever remember the third person to complete the task. Fortunately, there was a keen difference this time around: This pilot was a woman. Amelia Earhart had her own category, so people remembered her. The same goes for businesses: Facebook wasn’t the first social network but it created a category as the first social network with no ads.

It’s great to learn from others for your writing, but eventually you have to be the first to do something, or create your own category in order to get noticed.

Remain True to Your Target

You can’t stand for anything if you chase after everything.

This is one of my favorite marketing rules, since it’s one of the most violated. When building a company or a blog or a book it’s human nature to try and relate to every person in the world. Nothing will send your idea into the dumps quicker. Choosing a niche has always been key to business success, and it’s even more important now because of the competition you find with the Internet and self-publishing.

The target isn’t the market. The target of your marketing is not the same as people who actually buy your product. Even though Pepsi’s target was the teenager, the market was everybody. The 50-year-old guy who wants to think he’s 29 will drink the Pepsi.

So if you plan on writing for teenagers then stick to writing for teenagers. Just because you so desperately want to write for older folks doesn’t mean these people aren’t reading your books or blog already. Every demographic reads Harry Potter even though it was designed for high schoolers. This rule is even more so true with writers, because with art people want to become a different person.

Money is Required

You’ll go further with an OK idea and a million dollars than with a great idea alone.

This is the big sad truth that many people hate hearing from the Immutable Marketing Rules book. If you don’t have the scratch to build your brand then you have a small chance of success. This idea is relevant to most industries because there are plenty of large companies who will simply reverse engineer or knockoff your product before you have a chance to get your in front of customers.

With writing it’s easier since the costs are substantially cheaper, but money is still required. If you skimp on editing, you won’t find success. If you skimp on a book cover you won’t find success. If you don’t spend a little cash on training or website design or hosting then you can’t expect people to take you seriously. It’s a little different than people stealing your idea, but you still need some money and expertise to excel.

Fighting Fads and Making Bold Moves

What works in marketing works the same in the military: the unexpected.

This focuses on the idea that success comes from a single bold stroke. Usually only one move is the right move that pushes you over the top, while every other move just leaves you the same as you were before. The Immutable Marketing authors explain that successful programs are not built on fads, but on trends.

Fads are created by brands that overextend themselves. In short, they try to get the most money out of the situation by being everywhere at all times. Think of every boy band that ever existed. Think about how people get exhausted from fads quickly. It’s because people don’t like when demand is fulfilled and everyone in the world has a product or is talking about an artist.

How to Not Become a Fad

Successful entertainers control appearances.  They don’t want to wear out the welcome.

I can’t stand how much this quote reminds me of the diamond industry, where they control supply in the industry to give people the perception that their wedding ring is more valuable than it actually is. In reality, it’s just another common stone. In order to prevent being a fad you have to give people a taste and then retreat so they don’t get sick of you. I honestly don’t think most writers have problems with this rule.

Building Hype Doesn’t Translate to Success

Real revolutions don’t arrive at high noon with marching bands and coverage on the news. Real revolutions arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and sneak up on you.

It’s often discouraging when you see other writers or artists or even business people who are making waves and killing it in the press. According to the immutable marketing laws this is just hype. This explains how the best movements sneak up on you and come after months or years of hard work. Hugh Howey would attest to this idea since he hardly marketed his first book Wool, but the sales gradually picked up.

He’s in the news now, but any product that’s being thrown at you before it hits the market is probably not going to do well. So rest assured that when you’re typing away in the middle of the night you are making bigger moves than someone who is focused primarily on hype.

Let me know in the comments section below if you have checked out the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, and if you have anything else to add to this list.

Set up a self-hosted WordPress blog in 10 minutes or less by watching my step-by-step video tutorial. Get your words out to the world and take full control of your blog. I recommend using BlueHost web hosting. It is the only hosting service I personally recommend, and I use it for this site! Learn more….

About Joe Warnimont

I am a writer, marketing expert and adventure seeker. I help people write, market their writing, live truthfully and embrace their lives through creativity. You can find me riding my bike around the streets of Chicago. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.


  1. JazzFeathers says:

    I really enjoyed this post. Most things are familiar to me, but sometimes I doubt they are true. My favourit is “You can’t stand for anything if you chase after everything.”
    I interprete this as “Stay true to yourself”, which is what any writer should do, in my opinion. But is it possible? And even if it is, does it really pay?
    I think that, in theory, if you stay true to yourself, you might be the first in your category, but are publishers really willing to find that new author that is the first in his category?
    I don’t know. Especially today, seems to me as if publishers greatly prefer to go with what they know will sell and so with writers who are definitely not the first in a new category.
    I hope I’m wrong.

    • I agree that being first in your category is harder and harder with publishers and agents, because they enjoy sticking to what they know and the genres and topics they suspect will make them money. This is where self-publishing comes in to play in my opinion, or even hunting down a small publishing house that is more willing to take a chance on an author with a new idea.

      In terms of catering to the big publishers, I would say that there are plenty of new categories that extend previous genres and ideas so that you can find a niche in the world. Steampunk comes to mind, as a subcategory of science fiction or fantasy. In theory you really can’t blame publishers or agents because they want to make money as well, and the best way to do that is to choose ideas that excite them or make them money. Overall, I think it’s an exciting time because we have so many outlets and options to look into, and if one doesn’t work or if a person or company is not willing to give you a chance then you just regroup and try something else. Thanks for the comment JazzFeathers!