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Marketing Insights from A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know





Book: 'Marketing Insights from A to Z: 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know'

Author: Philip Kotler

Publisher:John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2003


Leader Values

Marketing Insights from A to Z is an ambitious undertaking. Marketing legend Philip Kotler is the S.C. Johnson and Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at North-western University’s Kellogg School of Management, and has already written 25 books during his 40 year career. In this admirably slim volume, he took on the challenge of compressing his accumulated experience and wisdom on marketing, management and leadership into a compact and easily digestible format.

Not surprisingly, Kotler has very robust views on leadership. He challenges the reader with assertions like, “All managers should be leaders, but most are administrators; good leaders don’t want yes-men - be ready to fire those who agree with you; the leader lives with risks - followers are lucky because all they have to do is carry out orders; and leaders can be corrupted by success”.

Most business books follow the logical beginning-middle-end approach, though sometimes ‘beginning-muddle-end’ would be a better description. Marketing Insights adopts a completely different approach, arranging its material as a simple alphabetical listing of 80 key concepts.  The structure is like a miniature encyclopaedia, which allows the reader to look up any topic in the book and obtain a complete, authoritative account of the subject encapsulated into just a few pages.  This ‘sound bites’ approach is ideal for people who don’t have much time for reading and just want to get straight to the core message.

Although Marketing Insights is like a mini-encyclopaedia, the writing style is never boring or academic.  It remains engaging and entertainingly opinionated from beginning to end.  This is evident from the opening sentence under A for advertising, which states “I have a love/hate relationship with advertising”.  How often do we get such candid honesty from marketing sages?  And the book closes out with Z for zest, where we are advised to “hire only marketers who have a zest for life.  Otherwise send them into accounting”.  Maybe accounting managers would disagree with this recommendation, but Kotler certainly states his viewpoint very clearly.  You don’t need to read between the lines.

In the introduction, the author describes the 80 concepts as being like Zen meditations.  They certainly have a Zen-like quality, and are presented in a classic, timeless and thought-provoking style that makes the contents of Marketing Insights feel much bigger than you would expect for a 200-page book.  Some of the meditations are a revisiting of basic marketing concepts, while others are latest up-to-the-minute thinking on e-commerce.  Consequently, the book has relevance to a wide range of readers, across many aspects of business.

Since Kotler is based in the US, his examples are predominantly taken from American companies.  However, the classic, Zen-like character of his thinking makes this unimportant.  The message and relevance are evident, no matter what examples you choose.  To supplement the alphabetical arrangement of topics, the book has an excellent index and useful cross-referencing between the topics.

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