WITH Prof. Philip Kotler in town, all events seem to be revolving around this iconic marketing guru. His visit is particularly relevant as it gives much insight into the dual but convergent roles of company and country to take Sri Lanka to the next level.
Expanding on his ideas of Marketing 3.0, Prof. Kotler has advocated the use of marketing to encompass the person beyond mind and heart – to that of spirit. This motivates us to consider how many companies are using their power to market products and services that are beneficial to all stakeholders. Prof. Kotler, in his seminar given to a packed audience of professionals yesterday, insisted that a profitable company knows how to prioritise their stakeholders so that the most important come first and in his estimation they are not the investors, they are employees and customers.
How many government departments or private companies do their best by the customers and employees? How many are trained and paid well? Are customers listened to and their issues addressed? In both the institutions that run the country where politicians mostly hold sway or in companies where profits rule the day, providing for the hearts and minds of people, let alone spirits, is often ignored.
Companies that treat their employees and customers well create fans out of them. They forge partnerships with suppliers and dealers so that products are of high quality and reasonable price. Companies that can create fans rather than customers do not have to fear having them stolen by a competitor because they will stand by the company when times are hard. These are the attributes of fans, who are not only of benefit to the company but also the environment because they care.
How many public institutions can claim to have created fans in this country? How many politicians can honestly say that their actions have created fans – not bought them? How many companies can depend on fans to fuel their business? It is obvious that infusing ‘spirit’ into actions is an aspect that Sri Lanka needs to focus on in a big way. Companies that have created fans spend less on marketing and the same can be said of individuals who are fortunate enough to have their actions speak for themselves.
How can infusion of spirit matter to Sri Lanka? This is not spirit in a religious sense, but the desire of mankind to do the best that they can so that the world is a better place. According to Prof. Kotler, Sri Lanka has the potential to be an education, financial and healthcare hub, but it must first decide what it wants to be the best in and then innovate to become the best.
Innovation in the world is now focused on injecting spirit into products and services. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of environmental and other philanthropic causes that need the assistance of the State and private sector. How they address these issues will decide on the capacity for a country to reach the next level of development.
This means that marketing Sri Lanka must have a shift. Sri Lanka can be a place for consumers to come and deplete resources, or it can become a place for fans – internally and otherwise. It can achieve great success, but only through great focus and every deed must be done with spirit so that everyone can benefit from the envisioned growth.