Marketing and the wisdom of Theodore Levitt and Peter Drucker

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Marketing and the wisdom of Theodore Levitt and Peter Drucker

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Vice President

The marketing I studied – and that I taught – is seldom practiced in American businesses. It is certainly practiced well in both very good ones and some up-and-coming ones but generally – and a little sadly and frustratingly – most people think of marketing in a narrow sense. Regarding marketing in the narrow sense is what keeps potentially good companies from being successful companies. There is hardly a day goes by that we don’t see this as an issue facing a potential client (though, be assured, helping the client to see it is our job).

Ask most business people what marketing is and you’ll typically hear one of these answers:

sales, advertising and promotion … a la Mad Men
an activity that helps salespeople sell
Peter DruckerManagement theorist and writer Peter Drucker understood the folly of such narrow thinking when he wrote, “Marketing is not only much broader than selling, it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous.”

In 1960 Harvard’s Theordore Levitt wrote in the Harvard Business Review a landmark article entitled Marketing Myopia that is still circulated in business school curricula today. If you made a New Year’s resolution to either improve your understanding of marketing of how you practice it in your company then your owe it to yourself to read this article. Read in in a quiet place without distraction. When you have finished allow yourself 30 minutes to digest it. I promise: it will be an hour well spent.

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Written by Michael

Michael Douglas has held senior positions in sales, marketing and general management since 1980, and spent 20 years at Sun Microsystems, most recently as VP, Global Marketing. His experience includes start-ups, mid-market and enterprises. He's currently VP Enterprise Go-to-Market for NVIDIA.

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