The 10 commandments of marketing

Sales Pitch

Herman Alvaranga

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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The purpose of business is to create a customer. The business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.

— Peter Drucker


While not everyone may agree with Drucker, there is no doubt that marketing is a complex set of tasks as well as a philosophy of business, and that it has been the Achilles heel of many formerly prosperous companies.

Some business people who don't understand marketing think of marketing as 'the art of selling products', or simplistically equate it with advertising. Both of these are marketing tactics visible to the consumer. Many people are surprised when they hear that selling is not the most important part of marketing and that not all companies have large advertising budgets.

Selling and advertising are aspects of the tip of the marketing iceberg. Most of what occurs in marketing happens before the customer sees an advertisement or meets a sales representative. These are the representation of the marketing strategy rather than the totality of marketing.

Just like an iceberg, more than 80 per cent of marketing occurs out of sight of the consumer.

Advertising and sales are the final rather than the beginning stages of marketing.


Who can forget General Motors a decade ago? With a product focus, the mighty GM was brought to its knees.

Now, like so many other once product-driven companies, they are attempting to transform themselves into true market-driven companies.

The task is not easy; it is not simply a matter of the CEO making speeches and urging every employee to 'think customer'. Persuading the company to embrace a customer-oriented philosophy is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for success. The organisation must also foster and sustain a creative culture.

Companies today copy each other's advantages and strategies with increasing speed. Differentiation gets harder to achieve, let alone maintain, and margins fall when firms become more alike.

The only answer is to build a capability in strategic innovation and idea generation to develop a succession of customer-perceived value offerings.


Undoubtedly, the trends and forces that have defined the first decade of the 21st century are leading business firms to a new set of beliefs and practices.

In this regard Kotler proposes the holistic marketing philosophy. It is based on the development, design and implementation of marketing programmes, processes and activities that recognise their breadth and interdependencies.

Holistic marketing acknowledges that everything matters in marketing – and that a broad, integrated perspective is often necessary. Today's best marketers recognise the need to have a more complete, cohesive approach to marketing, which moves beyond the production or selling approaches to business and really embraces the marketing philosophy.

The approach also expands the traditional 4Ps of marketing: Product/service, Price, Promotion, and Place to include Physical evidence, Processes and People. And soon an 8th P will be in our textbooks—Partnerships.


As more and more CEOs seek to infuse a marketing culture throughout their organisations, here are 10 commandments that we have adapted from Kotler (2004).

1. The company segments the market, chooses the best segments, and develops a strong position in each chosen target market.

2. The company maps its customers' needs, perceptions, preferences and behaviour, and motivates its stakeholders to obsess about serving and satisfying the customers.

3. The company knows its major competitors and their strengths and weaknesses.

4. The company builds partners out of its stakeholders and rewards them generously.

5. The company develops systems for identifying opportunities, ranking them and choosing the best ones.

6. The company manages a marketing planning system that leads to insightful long-term and short-term plans.

7. The company exercises strong control over its product and service elements.

8. The company builds strong brands by using the most relevant communication and promotion tools and techniques and other mix elements.

9. The company builds marketing leadership and a team spirit among its various departments.

10. The company constantly adds technology that gives it a competitive advantage in the market.


Way back in 1960 Theodore Levitt declared, “Selling is preoccupied with the seller's need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.”

Of the two approaches, what do you as a consumer mostly experience in your everyday transactions: a sales focus, or a marketing focus? And which do you prefer?

Herman Alvaranga, FCIM, MBA, is president of the Caribbean School of Sales & Marketing (CSSM). For more insights on sales and marketing please go to his blog at




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