Returning to the human roots of marketing

By Mark Schaefer

One of the biggest reasons I’m in marketing today is the inspiration I had in my very first college marketing class. I know this sounds weird, but I fell in love with a textbook. I’m trying to create some videos a little more often and decided to talk about this book.

If you can’t see the video above, you can see it here: Mark Schaefer on Kotler book

Or, you can read the transcript:

Hey everyone. I had some observations about the current state of marketing and I thought, “let’s make a little video instead of writing it out as I usually do.”

I’m working on a new book. I’m really excited about this book — I’ll be telling you more about it in the months to come. And in the course of doing research for the book, I was led back to the first textbook on marketing that I ever had.

roots of marketingI had this book for years, and years, and I think maybe in some move I got rid of it and so I actually went on eBay and got this thing again! This book is … I don’t know, thirty, thirty-five years old. It’s by Dr. Philip Kotler, one of the seminal books ever. Probably the best textbook ever. It’s gone through all sorts of editions, but I went back specifically to get my textbook.

I did that because I wanted to go back and experience again the excitement I had for marketing.

I actually started out as a journalism major. And late in my college career, I took some marketing classes. Probably would’ve switched my major if I had the time and the money and stay another semester in college. And I just fell in love with marketing.

Seeing this book reminds me of why I fell in love with marketing. And by the way, it’s amazing how much in this book is still relevant today in this digital age. What Dr. Kotler explained is that marketing is really an intersection of sociology, anthropology, and psychology. Isn’t that interesting that marketing is everything human?

Now, even back in the 80’s or maybe he wrote this in the 70’s, there was lots of technology and different types of technology that marketers could use, but he didn’t explain marketing as leveraging technology. He said that marketing is all things human.

One of my concerns is that we’ve lost sight of that. In many instances today, we are overwhelmed by technology. We have a technology-first sort of strategy.

Maybe we’re even abusing technology, right? I mean, we’re looking for the marketing easy button, and so we’re doing things that we shouldn’t. We’re spamming people. We’re taking shortcuts when we should be building this emotional connection to our business and our brands and we’re trying to find some marketing short-cut through a dashboard.

The human roots of marketing

One of the biggest problems in marketing right now is that marketing is becoming a glorified IT department. We’ve lost our heart. We’ve lost our soul. I think marketing in some cases has really become sick. We’ve lost sight of what we do. We’ve lost sight of why we’re here. We’re not seeing our customers as people. We’re seeing them as a persona, or a data point, or a target, and they’re people and they want to be treated as people.

We need to realize that we don’t own the customer journey. The customer does. And we need to be humble about that. We need to put technology in its place.

So, I just kind of love this book. I’ve always loved the book and I’m glad I got my old copy back so I could take a look at this, reflect on this wisdom of Dr. Kotler that still is so relevant and so fresh today. Marketing is everything human and I think we need to keep that in the forefront of our thinking and in the forefront of our marketing strategies.

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

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