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Philip Kotler's 'winning marketing practices'

Here is a back issue of Marketing Booster, the email newsletter that Richard Groom writes and sends free every fortnight to subscribers. You can subscribe here or read over 60 back issues using the back issues index page.
I have just started reading the excellent 'Kotler on Marketing' by Philip Kotler (Free Press, ISBN 0-684-86047-3). In chapter one, Kotler looks at 'winning marketing practices'. Within this section, he makes a few points that fit well with the marketing communications content of Marketing Booster.

I'd like to mention three of them and suggest exercises that might help you get the most from Kotler's experience and expertise.

1. Kotler points out that quality has a lot of meanings. He says, 'Customers care about different things, so a quality claim without further definition doesn't mean much.'

He also says that 'claiming better service isn't enough' and explains how customers define good service in different ways too.

Time and again, I see marketing materials that talk about quality in general terms. People write 'we meet your needs' or 'we put our customers first'.

Well what customer would expect anything less these days? What we (the customers) need is evidence, facts, specifics. Somewhere in the marketing communications process there has to be information that gets specific and convinces people that you mean what you say about quality.

Exercise: look again at your organisation's marketing materials. Spot those vague quality claims and see if you can make them specific.

2. On page nine, Kotler talks about how 'exceeding customer expectations' is getting harder and harder.

In marketing communications terms, one way to exceed expectations is to throw in a 'sweetener' near the end of the communication. You see it all the time with organisations like insurance companies who offer a free radio if you buy a policy now.

Perhaps the way to approach this is to write materials as well as you can, doing as good a job at convincing people in the value of your product as possible - and THEN close with a sweetener or two.

Exercise: the next time you write campaign materials, see if you can save the best for last. Is there something extra that you can mention to motivate potential customers to take action?

3. Also on page nine, Kotler reports that Professor Michael Porter of Harvard argues that a company needs to have strong points of difference from its competitors to have a truly robust strategy.

There are of course lots of places in the marketing mix where companies can achieve this, perhaps most noticeably when it comes to product development. I suggest that your communications campaign is another place where being better than the competition isn't enough: you have to be different. Exercise: examine your main competitors' marketing communications campaigns. What are they all doing the same? What are they doing that's the same as you? And what can you do that's significantly different to gain ground on your competitors?

In summary: 1. Define what you mean by quality. 2. See if 'sweeteners' can help you show how your product will exceed expectations. 3. Don't just try to do what your competitors do, but a bit better. Adopt breakthrough marketing strategies to break away from the rest.

Copyright 2003 Richard Groom