Philip Kotler: Father of Modern Marketing

Philip Kotler (born in 1931) is an economist and marketing specialist, holder, since 1988, of the S. C. Johnson & Johnson Chair of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University, Illinois), ranked six times by BusinessWeek magazine as the best business school in the United States. He graduated from the University of Chicago and received his Ph.D. in economics from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He did postdoctoral work in mathematics at Harvard University and in behavioral sciences at the University of Chicago. He has received numerous awards and was elected leader in marketing thinking by the AMA (American Marketing Association) in 1975. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Stockholm, Zurich, Vienna, Athens, and DePaul, among others. He is the author of numerous books, including "Principles of Marketing", "Marketing Management", and "Confronting Capitalism". 

These are, without a doubt, some of his best tips that will help you see things and think differently: 

1. The best companies are "people-oriented". 

So clear, so simple... But how difficult it is for many organizations to understand. The best thing about Apple is not its iPhones or iPads, but its engineers, the ones who design and make those gadgets. The same is true of all companies because it's people who make things happen. Companies don't make anything, the people who work in them do. The best organizations, the ones that survive the years, are the ones that have people at the center of their strategy and their business. As you know, "what helps people, helps business."

2. For a company to be loved by the market, it must first be loved by its employees. 

Can it happen any other way? It is difficult. Pride of belonging is very important for a company to be a benchmark in any sector or industry. Every organization has a culture, with its pros and cons, and the people who work in them either adapt or leave or are fired. When people are not in tune with the corporate culture, it is only possible to be in the middle of the pack. Successful companies, companies with employees who are proud to belong to them.

3. Four characteristics of companies over a hundred years old: cautious with money, attentive to the environment, continuous improvement, and innovation. 

In short: first, not to be overly wasteful. When things are going well is when you have to invest and consolidate so that when the lean times come, you don't get caught on the wrong foot; second, you have to be in constant contact with the market to know where things are going; third, you have to avoid complacency and have a certain obsession with improving each stage of the value chain; and fourth, be innovative to renew your competitive advantages.

4. Consumers today have more power than brands. 

They can attack or praise brands with great euphoria or without mercy in the infinite world of the Internet and social networks, which allow the dissemination of content and opinions at breakneck speed. This is one of the biggest changes in recent years: power has shifted from brands to consumers. Consumers can exert more and more influence by being able to voice their complaints and bad experiences publicly to a large audience, so they demand more respect, better treatment, and attention. A company can work its image very hard, but it can collapse if disgruntled customers raise their voices. For this reason, the vertical company-consumer relationship of the past is no longer valid. We must anticipate and listen to consumers, encourage them to participate, take care of them and make them feel important. It is about turning customers into fans. In the era of marketing 3.0, the idea is that the consumer not only buys but also recommends and gets involved.

5. Those with a good reputation continue to do more of the same, out of inertia. In the end, only a crisis or a loss of share makes them examine what is really going on. 

It is difficult to reflect on success but to be a truly innovative company, you always have to be looking at different ways to improve, and that should be done in good times when you can think more clearly and freshly. Most companies are in a hurry when the wind changes and it is too late. Complacency, it is worth remembering again, is probably the greatest enemy of any organization. There is a well-known story of a suicidal man who jumps from a skyscraper and is asked, "How are you doing? To which he replies, "So far so good." Many organizations behave similarly. Since things are going well, they don't question anything.

6. We are moving into an era of precision marketing and microtargeting. 

Shooting at everything that moves doesn't seem the right thing to do in this day and age. It is a waste of time, effort, and money. The market responds to smaller, specialized niche markets with much more specific needs. If you try to be everything for everyone, in the end, you end up doing nothing for no one. In a manner of speaking, in order to succeed today, you have to be a "specialist in specialization".

7. If in five years you are still in the same business you are in now, you will be out of business. 

A blunt phrase, but one that gives an idea of the speed of change. Because what is new is not the change but the speed at which events take place. And this requires three things: first, a lot of observation skills to anticipate; second, a lot of flexibility to react with speed; and third, a lot of pragmatism so as not to fall into "paralysis by analysis." Those who fail to do so already know what awaits them.

8. Every business is a service business: your company is not a chemical products business, but a chemical products service business. 

This is sometimes forgotten: you sell products, but through people; you offer services, but through people. Any company is a web of relationships between people: suppliers, employees, media, administrations... whose last link is the customers, who are the center of the business activity. Without customers, there are no sales, and without sales, there is no business. We must have a strong customer focus because, in the end, it is the customer who pays all the company's expenses: payroll, rents, travel, and meals. Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, used to say: "There is only one boss: the customer. And he can throw everyone out, from the president of the company on down, by simply going to spend his money somewhere else."

9. To generate passion for a brand you have to mix the emotional, the rational, and the spiritual. 

A brand is built by attending to several things. The first thing is to be able to arouse interest and excite; as we have already said: before thinking, we feel. But you can't sell smoke and mirrors, and you have to be able to provide value to the customer. It is not enough to have a good reputation; the reputation has to be real. Anything else is not sustainable. And finally, "authentic" and "true" brands think not only in terms of economic benefits but also in terms of social benefits. They go beyond the bottom line and seek to contribute to the common good and the community.

10. Marketing is not the art of selling what you produce, but of knowing what to produce. 

In business, two factors, in particular, must be mastered: differentiation and sales. And in this order, because in the business world the commutative property is not fulfilled and the order of the factors does alter the final product. Numerous sales-oriented actions can be designed impeccably, but if what is offered to the market is not of interest to it, the probability of commercial success is very low.

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