Book Review : HBR – On Strategic Marketing

Published June 15, 2014 by vishalvkale

“On Strategic Marketing” is one of the Harvard Business Review’s 10 must read series. The book contains papers and articles from the 1970s upto the current day, and looks at various aspects of marketing. To the average manager, the book acts as an tool that stimulates thought, and is a delight to read. To the avid strategy student, the book in question leaves one desiring for more.The book covers the following papers :

1)  Rethinking Marketing {Trust, Moorman, Bhalla}
This is a research paper that extolls the virtues of direct interaction with customers, and keeping the customer at the centre of all marketing efforts. This is truly a very valuable input – one which all practicing managers can and should internalise. It suggests an interesting and radical refocus of the organisation and its structure which might enable a deeper focus on the customer…

2) Branding in the Digital Age {David Edelman}
This focal point of this article is the sea-change the Brand-Customer interface has undergone in the digital age, with free availability of information, reviews of customers, product and competitor comparisons etc, the multiplicity of Brand-Customer touchpoints and the challenge it places in front of the Brand Team. It also looks at the consumer decision making process in the new scenario

3) Marketing Myopia {Theodore Levitt}
This is a paper of the 70s, which looks at the inward focus of companies, and the narrow definition of the word market – and their mistake in not defining their market properly. 

4) Marketing Malpractice {Clayton Christensen}
The simplest, but paradixically most difficult marketing lesson of them all – product are just a means to satisfy a customer want, a need… 

5) The Brand Report Card {Kevin Lane Keller}
A detailed, interesting and absorbing look at Brand Equity, and its components

6) The Female Economy {Michael Silversteen, Kate Sayre}
A deeply engaging, thought provoking and insightful research paper that looks at the female customer; her types or segmentation, and her needs and wants – and why they should be a specialised market segment unto themselves

7) Customer Value Proposition in Business Markets {Anderson, Narus and Rossum}
Yet another paper that focusses on the simple and the basics – which is, in reality, one of the most ignored and difficult things to do. And that is the Customer Value Proposition – what is that differentiates your brand from the competition? What do you offer that others dont? This is one of the best papers in this book, is extremely practical, and full of tools and techniques that are a decided value addition

8) Getting Brand Communities Right {Fournier and Lee}
A paper that researches Brand Communities – those ardent and loyalist brand followers who go to the extent of forming real-world or social media communities, and how they can be leveraged for the benefit of the brand

9) The One Number You Need To Grow {Frederick Reichheld}
This, along with no 10, is one of the top 3 papers in this book – it makes the book worth the price all by itself. A short and powerful paper that will set you thinking with deep insight into Brand Loyalty, and how to measure and grow your loyal customers by the simplest of tools. Intuitively  reasonable, and eminently practical… 

10) Ending The War Between Marketing And Sales {Kotler, Rackham, Krishnaswamy}
Wont say anything here : The title itself is a guaranteed puller from anyone into Sales or Marketing… one of the three best papers in the book!

This represents the first HBR Book I have read, and it was worth it, despite some disappointments. I would, personally have loved a more detailed research backed by charts and numbers, or examples; but the content, as it currently stands, is sufficiently engaging, intuitively reasonable and deeply thought provoking for it to be worth a read. The one thing that hit me the hardest was the examples in the book were all American {Obviously!}, which left me wanting some top-quality research on the Indian Market and its realities, which would have made the content far more powerful…

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