Gauri Chaudhari
Guest Article

Meeting the Messiah of Marketing

Gauri Chaudhari reflects on the session she moderated that featured Prof. Philip Kotler.

PharmaState Academy was trying for an interaction with Prof.Philip Kotler. Recently, Dr Kotler has authored a book with Prof. Waldemar and Prof. Uwe on Human to Human Marketing, titled H2H Marketing.

PharmaState Academy wanted to interact with authors and understand how H2H Marketing be applied to Pharma in India. Prof. Waldemar and Prof Uwe agreed to the interaction. I was given the task of moderating the session. But the question was, "Will Prof. Philip Kotler address the webinar?"

The co-authors of H2H marketing promised that they would pass on the invitation to Dr Kotler but obviously, would not guarantee his presence. We all knew that Dr Kotler did not make too many appearances. Often, he sent video messages or text messages for conferences that he did not attend. We decided to announce the webinar suggesting pre-recorded message from the Messiah of Marketing.

Two days before the webinar, PharmaState Academy received an email from Prof.Kotler with two questions. "Who will moderate the webinar?" and "When is the session?". The answers were sent immediately, and pat came the response, "I will join."

Gauri Chaudhari
Gauri Chaudhari

We all were excited. Yet my worries were multifold; will Prof.Kotler allow questions? or will he deliver a talk and leave? If he allows questions, which questions should I ask? And will I be star-struck and go speechless?

My worries vanished when Prof. Kotler came on the screen. His presence was extremely calming and reassuring. Not only he took my questions but also actively discussed several aspects of marketing in today's world.

He walked the audience through the journey from Marketing 1.0 to marketing 5.0.

While 1.0 driven by the rationality and functionality of the product, 2.0 was about the emotions involved in the process of marketing. Marketing 3.0 was about improving the lives of the people and rising standard of living. Yet 3.0 was limited by mass solutions. Marketing 4.0 changed it. Thanks to the digital revolution, which allowed us to take marketing from segment marketing to one-on-one marketing.

Today it's the era of Marketing 5.0. Technology has changed the world. Today, companies can use AI, ML, face and voice recognition, augmented and virtual reality to serve customers. Yet, the marketer must remember that the goal of technology is to make people happier and healthier. The H2H marketing approach helps the marketer achieve that goal.

He categorically mentioned the need to use three pillars of H2H marketing: Design thinking, Service-Dominant Logic and Digitalization.

When I asked him, "During the pandemic, companies are in a dilemma. Should profits be protected at the cost of customer service so that companies stay protected?"

His answer was clear. "If you want to give profits to shareholders, take care of every stakeholder. A shareholder is the seventh important stakeholder in the order of priority. If you take care of the first six, the seventh one is taken care of."

"Employees are as important stakeholders as the customers. If you take care of the employees, they will be motivated to provide better service to customers." Chasing profits at the cost of other stakeholders adversely affects the profits and interests of shareholders.

I could not stop myself from asking him the question that was bothering me, "Has the era of 4Ps over?" "Of course not! 4Ps are fundamental to marketing. Whether it is marketing 1.0 or 5.0, every company must answer the 4 Ps in every marketing plan. What is the product and its price, where is it available and how does it work?" Though many like to add a few more Ps to the list, like people or packaging they are subsections of the main 4Ps.

Every marketer works with some controllable and uncontrollable factors. While product, price, place, promotion are under the marketer's control, factors like economy and policies are not. A marketer's job is to set controllable in such a way that uncontrollable have the least possible impact. This is possible through Human to Human marketing that focuses on a design thinking approach.

The one and half hour discussion with Prof. Kotler was filled with insights. The complex concepts got explained in simple words; the audience felt intellectually enriched. The simplicity and humility of the marketing messiah touched every heart in the audience. Indeed, it was a Heart to Heart talk on Human to Human Marketing by the Messiah of Marketing.

The author is co-founder, Brand Innerworld, a healthcare consultancy.