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15/02/2013  Versione per la stampa Share it   Condividi su Facebook

Kotler: ‘Italy has forgotten marketing’

His book Marketing Management, now in its 14th edition, is widely regarded as the 'bible' of modern marketing. An essential reading for any marketer or wannabe. Philip Kotler does not need any introduction. A lifetime dedicated to revolutionize a discipline that has changed radically, the same art and science in which, as the professor likes to say, the only constant is change.

The opportunity to speak again before an Italian audience was his participation in the World Business Forum organized by Wobi. An hour and a half full of inspiration and tips to understand how the marketing of the future, in an increasingly globalized world, must necessarily confront the hegemony of Chindia, the ideal continent born out of the low-cost production of Indian and Chinese markets. Kotler says that Italy has forgotten marketing, remembering that he used to come and exchange views in Dante’s birthplace every year. He does not hold back and attacks unequivocally what marketing has become in Italy. Call centres are not marketing. Being bombarded with offers at any time of day, this is what marketing has become. In a world that increasingly needs beauty, Italy must offer them some of its own: "You have to exploit yours!" As he recalls while closing his acclaimed speech, warning Italians "Continue to use your treasures. Give some of your beauty to the world!"

In less than thirty slides, the professor outlines the marketing 3.0, which has made the transition from consumers – the protagonists of the transition from the marketing 1.0 to the 2.0, where prominent attention was given to the product – to the needs of the human spirit. If at the beginning of the discipline the purpose of marketers was to reach consumers’ gut instincts, in a product-centric vision aimed at raising profits on profits, the marketing 2.0 struck to the heart, giving more importance to the consumer. But it is in the marketing 3.0 that the process is complete, the driving forces being the values and the goal human happiness. In a world that has changed, the way of looking at retail must also be rethought. Before delivering his speech, Kotler walked outside the shops in Via Montenapoleone, beautiful and empty. Why does it still make sense to show goods in physical spaces today?

And in all of this, what is the role of social media? Kotler has no doubts: if you do not use them, you are dead. But one must approach the new medium with the right perspective, avoiding the techno-enthusiasm that, as in the case of Pepsi Cola, has been such a bitter boomerang. The traditional channels are to be maintained and they must still account for 90% of the budget. Because the future is hybrid, a place where the choice is innovate or die. And the professor does not hide his love and respect for brands and logos that have been able to make room and add value to a product. A position diametrically opposed to that taken by Naomi Klein in her best-selling book No Logo. A real ride in the history of marketing and big brands. Innovations are always 'disruptive'. They overwhelm and sweep away the legacy of the past. As it happened to Kodak: the giant of analogue photography failed to reinvent itself, despite having hired a manager from Motorola who had indicated that the road passed through the digital. Kodak was not able to survive the radical change in photography and failed to protect the jobs of its chemists, its largest segment.

What is the recipe for preventing the effects of radical changes? Differentiate. At least with two marketing departments: one tactical, larger and concentrated on the sale of what is produced, and, placed side by side, a smaller, strategic marketing department that has to drag us into the future.

Kotler does not hold back the self-criticism against his country: the crisis was the fault of America in the first place, and they should compensate the entire world. Financially supporting the American dream of a house with garden also for people that could not afford it. Everyone wants a house with garden even if only 6% of Americans actually use it. Who would benefit from working hard just to have a garden that they will not be using? Marketers are unprepared for the digital world. Better to rely on digital natives who have the skills needed to decode this brand new world. Because marketing is not sleeping and must never sleep. This is the only way a company can become a brand, an idea immediately growing into a recognizable logo. The same chemistry Amazon, Apple, Ikea, Harley Davidson, and Timberland shine at…

Those brands are characterized by some recurrent features: their managers do not receive stellar salaries and would continue to work for symbolic numbers, such as the famous one-dollar salary Steve Jobs asked when he returned triumphantly to Apple. Employee satisfaction is among the highest, and great is the attention paid to corporate culture. In each of these companies, the investments in marketing activities are among the lowest in the industry since the best testimony is that of their affectionate and loyal customers, satisfied to be part of their 'family'. Prime example is the set of devices with the half-bitten apple that triggers a purchase of a family of products, endless variations of the same brand philosophy. So, which are the ingredients of a successful marketing? Kotler identifies 6 of them: anticipate any turbulence in the market, go where there excitement and growth are, strengthen marketing to guide you into the future, gradually intensify the social media activity, involve more and more customers in these activities and develop social responsibility activities next to the main core business. The conclusion is always the same: if in five years your company will do the same business that makes today, it would probably have already failed.

Antonino Pintacuda

(translated by Cecilia Airaghi @CeciAiraghi)

Redazione MyMarketing.Net

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