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Get savvy in newer media, says Kotler in New Straits Times, Malaysia, article

7/10/2007 - ASIAN marketers, including those in Malaysia, need to acquire skills in using newer media such as blogs, podcasts, and buzz marketing, says international marketing guru Dr Philip Kotler.

"Asian companies need a better understanding of the role that the marketing department can play in turning customer insights into profitable growth.

"They need to improve their strategic capabilities with Blue Ocean thinking and Lateral Marketing," he said in an email interview with Business Times recently.

Companies that employ Blue Ocean strategy use innovation to find uncontested "blue oceans of opportunities" that their competitors have yet to discover, while lateral marketing requires companies to look beyond narrow, vertical segmentation and be creative to create fresh ideas and new markets.

Kotler, one of the pioneers in the marketing world, said Asian companies must study the practices of foreign global companies that have entered their market.

He said if Asian companies discover that they are deficient in certain marketing skills such as digital marketing, experiential marketing and direct marketing, they need to quickly acquire the missing skills to level the competitive playing field.

On the difference in marketing culture between Asia and the West, Kotler said Asian marketers tend to find out more about the buyers before sitting down for business talk.

"My impression is that Asian marketers, especially those selling more expensive, less frequently purchased products, want to know more about the buyer and his trustworthiness and character. They prefer not to go immediately into business talk but first find out more about the whole person," he said.

Kotler, who currently teaches at Northwestern University, observes that the current marketing trend and challenge lies in the proliferation of products, promotions, and marketing channels.

He said each product category contains a growing number of brands and consumers are confronted with advertisements everywhere they turn.

"They can buy at retail or order online, and in both cases, face a multitude of vendors. Thus the main problem for a company is how to stand out from the crowd, how to grab a few minutes of someone's attention," he said.

Kotler said marketing covers all the tools that can be used to build a strong preference for a particular company or product. Marketers use segmentation, targeting, positioning, and the 4Ps - product, price, place, promotion - to achieve profitable growth.

To build a new brand, he said, a company relies on marketing research and creative promotional tools to develop a memorable name, logo, slogan, look, and value proposition.

"Once the brand is well-established, the company must make sure that its brand strategy guides all of the company's activities," he said.

Kotler, 76, whose marketing textbook is used in graduate business schools worldwide, will be in Kuala Lumpur on August 13 for a one-day talk hosted by the Institute of Marketing Malaysia.

© New Straits Times (Malaysia), July 7, 2007