Segmentation, Targeting, Positioning, and Brand Activism with Professor Philip Kotler

Episode 78 of Yes, and Marketing

It’s not every day you get to hear from a living legend.

This episode features the Godfather of modern marketing, Professor Philip Kotler. Professor Kotler has written 80 books, spent 50 years unpacking how and why marketing works, and evangelized core concepts like the 4 Ps.

In addition to a masterclass in classic segmentation, targeting and positioning, in this interview Professor Kotler discusses:

  • Why your company should have a higher purpose
  • The goal of his magnum opus, “Marketing Management”
  • A personal primer to the 4 Ps
  • Why companies should care about social problems 
  • What good brand evangelism looks like
  • Two examples of great leadership
  • The inside scoop on “H2H” marketing


???? Name: Philip Kotler

???? What he does: Godfather of modern marketing

????️ Find Professor Kotler on the web: Professor Kotler | LinkedIn

???? Get smart: “Companies may never have thought of being activist, but they cannot not be.”

Top Takeaway

Activism isn’t an option. ????

Professor Kotler makes it clear that brands have to be activist. Doing the right thing for the world isn’t just lip service; it’s integral to understanding and attracting customers. People need to see that your brand stands for something and has a higher purpose. That higher purpose becomes a fundamental part of your brand, generating loyalty, attracting new customers, and being authentic.

Moreover, failing to do the right thing will never work out for your company. In Professor Kotler’s words:

“You can’t win unless you’re a good company. The fact that you’re not good, you’re hurting the environment or feeding us bad food, whatever, will hurt you eventually. So it’s a question of activism that makes you alert to what consumers really want.”

Episode Highlights

Spend money to figure out what works in digital advertising.

“Now you’re going to have to spend a lot more to learn what works in digital tools. And once you do, your budget for digital tools will go back to a normal level. So overspending is natural to find out what works.” 

A company has to provide value for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

“A company doesn’t work unless everyone is engaged and serious. I believe that most companies know that the reward should go to all the team members that are playing.”

Branding IS marketing.

“Branding is the work of marketing. Some people say you don’t need marketing, you just need branding. What are they talking about? You always have to have something to market before you talk about whether your brand is going to use a lot of branding theory.” 

A growth philosophy means creating perpetual value for customers.

“The philosophy [of success] was loving the customer, creating, growing value for the customer who stays with the company, always improving everything.”

Hiring and retaining talent matters.

“I think that if I have the best talent and I listen to them – I don’t tell them what to do – I learn from them what we should be doing, then we will have no problem financially and commercially.”

We’re emotional beings.

“90% of not only your decision as a consumer, but maybe 90% of your decision as a producer is guided by your sense of risk and emotional ideas that are at a subconscious level.”

Top Quotes

????️Professor Kotler:

“Buying is more of an emotional experience than just a rational experience.”

“You can’t win unless you’re a good company.”

“Should the brand convey more than the features and price and so on of the product? Our answer is, yes, it should tell the consumer that you care as a company about them.”

“Marketing is for every company possible. Every organization that has some audience that they want to influence can use everything that we say about marketing. ”

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