Strengths and Sins of Today’s Marketer


Discussion on ‘Eight ways to grow your market share – The Future of Marketing’ within the one day conference by Dr Philip Kotler. Among other panellists were Shantanu Prakash, Founder Educomp Solutions, Michael D King, VP, IBM Global Education, and Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group.

“Most marketing leaders are in their forties, it is the digital era and the internet world and one needs to unlearn, re learn and learn. These are the three most important words for a marketer,” said Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group – Financial Services, in a panel discussion about the ‘Competency Skills Needed for Today’s Marketers’ at the conference held by Dr Philip Kotler on ‘Eight ways to grow your market share – The Future of Marketing’. Among other panellists were Michael D King, VP, IBM Global Education, Dr Philip Kotler, Shantanu Prakash, Founder Educomp Solutions. The discussion was moderated by Shruti Verma Singh, Consulting Editor and Anchor, NDTV.

Dr Philip Kotler said that, relationship building is a major competency skill that is required today, more than just selling a product, one should work out relationships with distributors, dealers and suppliers. “Relationships are built on trust, there should be more focus on designing experiences to enhance relationships. Content development is also necessary, it is a major factor that adds up to a relationship,” Kotler added.

(left to right) Shantanu Prakash, Ajay Kakar, Shruti Verma Singh, Philip Kotler, Michael D King

A common view of the panel was that the sales officials are understanding the value proposition of the product offering and doing the basic marketing function tailored to the client. Hence, slowly getting integrated with the marketing department of brands.

Prakash raised an issue about the interesting part of 21st century marketing. He said that in today’s world, one listens to the customer far greater than it has ever been. “There are social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter etc that add to this,” he added. He further said that brands should not just listen, but “continuously listen” to the consumers. “My message to the sales people is that since customer feedback keeps changing, one should listen in, or else the company will fail in today’s time,” he said.

Kakar reiterating an example from his experience as a marketer said, “We are all into business, business means sales and business means profits. Everything that I believe is a means to an end, and as long as you are contributing to that end, you are valued,” he added. One of the rather interesting points that came out of the ideas being churned about competency of marketers was that marketing is a mix of both art and science, and that there is a need to find a balance between creativity and analytics. If there is too much analytics, creativity and advertising goes down. If creativity is too much, the brand loses track of analytics.

“This is an era where big data is important. We have created more data in the last few years than the whole of human kind. There are a ‘trillion’ devices that are connected through the internet. It means that being data literate and using analytics is something that marketers should be comfortable with,” said King.

A novel term, ‘Return on Investment versus the Return on Insights’ was put forth by Singh of NDTV. Kakar taking this up said that most of the efforts are focused on sales and most of the sales is based on acquisition. “Very important part of marketing and sales is not only acquiring new customers but also retaining existing consumers. Hence, I see analytics as a tool to retain consumers,” he added.

Kotler reiterating the three sins of marketers from the ten sins that he has written about said, “Failing to motivate your employee, not entertaining you consumer and over-exaggerating what you are going to deliver are what marketers should stay away from.”

Singh, as a moderator, wrapping the discussion up, asked what are the skills that markets should have that would make the panellists hire them? To which the panel listed down aspects such as curiosity, adaptability, collaborative skills and technical skills. They also shared that the marketer should have worked in the sales department or team, should have broader business awareness, should be able to work cross culturally, should have a thirst to learn, should be accountable and take responsibility and should have the ability to be one’s own customer.

Kotler ended with the question, asking whether CMOs will become CEOs? Further explaining that the CMO is a spender and does not take into consideration the finances of the brand whereas the CFO is the one who keeps track of all the finances. “If the CFO becomes the CEO, he will maybe curb all expenses of the company,” Kotler added. He further said that one needs to bring a balance, and the CEO should be the one who should be a mix of both.

The conference of the day was preceded by RelioQuick Coffee Book table launched by Philip Kotler. RelioQuick Coffee Table Book is on Sixth Sense of a brand. The sixth sense also referred as the Q sense in the book. The full day certified training programme on ‘Eight ways to grow your market share – The Future of Marketing’ by Dr Philip Kotler was organised by RelioQuick, which claims to be India’s first TUV certified and INS accredited Integrated Marketing Communication Expert in association with JRE School of Management.

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