"Marketing is a business philosophy"

Apr 01 2008, 03:27 IST
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SummaryMarketing plays a central role in overall business strategy. Remember Peter Drucker’s wise observation, “The purpose of a company is to create customers.”

Philip Kotler. Arguably the world’s leading expert on marketing. The founder of modern marketing management. He followed Peter Drucker’s lead in shifting the emphasis from price and distribution to a focus on customers’ needs and showned how marketing is to be applied to non-commercial areas, including social causes. His firm consults with top corporations—GE, Merck, IBM, Mechelin, Motorola. Currently the SC Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Philip Kotler is not a name that needs any introduction. He demystifies his latest book, Social Marketing: Influencing Behaviors for Good, 3e, by answering queries from The Financial Express.

At a global level, what role does marketing play in the overall business strategy? What are the most important skills and aptitude required for today's marketers?

Marketing plays a central role in overall business strategy. Remember Peter Drucker’s wise observation, “The purpose of a company is to create customers.” And he added, “A business has two — and only two — basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results: all the rest are costs.”

Every company has to decide what markets and customer segments to serve and how to understand their needs, wants, perceptions and preferences so that the company is favoured over its competitors. Clearly, this calls for superior skills in selecting the best markets and customers and fully understanding their conscious needs and unconscious thoughts and emotions. Skills in economic analysis and psychological analysis are very essential aptitudes for marketers, as well as communication skills.

So if marketing is an important business function, why do you think top B-schools in India are reporting a drop in the number of students looking at specialisation in marketing?

Marketing is more than an important business function. It is a business philosophy. At Procter & Gamble, marketing is everything from the search for opportunities, for the creation of winning offerings, to their successful pricing, distribution and communication. Indian students may be turning to more specific single skills such as accounting, computer programming, and financial analysis if these are in higher demand and attract higher pay. It is easier to test whether a person has mastered these skills than if a person has mastered marketing skills. All business students will get a pretty good idea of marketing from one or two courses without needing to major in marketing as a specialisation area.

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