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About the Author

Al Ries and his daughter and business partner Laura Ries are two of the world's best-known marketing consultants, and their firm, Ries & Ries, works with many Fortune 500 companies. They are the authors of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding and The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, which was a Wall Street Journal and a BusinessWeek bestseller, and, most recently, The Origin of Brands. Al was recently named one of the Top 10 Business Gurus by the Marketing Executives Networking Group. Laura is a frequent television commentator and has appeared on the Fox News and Fox Business Channels, CNN, CNBC, PBS, ABC, CBS, and others. Their Web site (Ries.com) has some simple tests that will help you determine whether you are a left brainer or a right brainer.

Reviews

Ries, whose previous books were authored with Jack Trout, writes his latest with research assistance from his daughter. Together they go after the management of some of the world's most easily recognized firms, including PepsiCo and IBM. The authors use companies' experience as evidence that "focus" on the core businesses or products is the key to success in today's business environment, arguing that companies that remain focused, e.g., Volvo or McDonald's, have a substantially better track record than those that have strayed from their "core" businesses. This thesis, which is illustrated liberally with examples from the business world, is thoroughly developed. The reader may not always agree with the authors' statements, but they are well made and worth considering. For all management collections and for libraries that support all types of business, large or small.-Littleton M. Maxwell, Business Information Ctr., Univ. of Richmond, Va.

While he doesn't go so far as to say that small is beautiful, Ries (Positioning) levels a commonsense critique at the compulsion for growth that drives corporate America. Growth for its own sake, particularly when it involves diversification into products unrelated to a company's original business, Ries says, causes many companies to become unfocused, confuses customers and loses money. The frenzy for acquisitions that spread many a well-known brand name over a diversity of products has proved untenable, with the result that companies that grew fat are regaining their original focus by slimming down. Sears, Roebuck, a once focused retailer that expanded unwisely into real estate, stock brokering, business system centers and credit cards, is having to divest itself of all but its original retail chain. Managers seeking to focus or refocus their companies will find helpful examples here, drawn from a broad range of enterprises. $50,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Apr.)

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