Harvard Business Review on Reinventing Your Marketing: A book review by Bob Morris

Harvard Business Review on Reinventing Your Marketing
Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (2011)

How to use innovative thinking to improve how you create or increase demand for what you offer

Those who aspire to maximize the impact of their marketing initiatives will find the material in this HBR book invaluable. It is one of the volumes in a series of anthologies of articles that first appeared in Harvard Business Review. Authors of the ten articles focus on one or more components of a process by which to identify what one’s company’s business really is, how to collaborate with others (including customers) within and beyond the organization to meet both current and future needs, select the products and services that create jobs do the work that must be done, get a “bird’s-eye view” of one’s organizational strengths and weaknesses, identify new markets “that are larger than China and India combined,” deliver superior value to B2B customers, and end of avoid a “war” between sales and marketing.

Having read all of the articles when they were published individually, I can personally attest to the high quality of their authors’ (or co-authors’) insights as well as the eloquence with which they are expressed. Two substantial value-added benefits should also be noted: If all of the articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be at least $60-75; they are now conveniently bound in a single volume for a fraction of that cost.

I now provide two brief excerpts that are representative of the high quality of all ten articles:

In “Marketing Myopia,” in my opinion the single most important article as yet written about marketing, Theodore Levitt identifies and invalidates four myths that most often put a company at risk of obsolescence:

1. An ever-expanding and more affluent population will ensure out growth. “We increase the efficiency of making our products, rather than boosting the value those products deliver to customers.”

2. There is no competitive substitute for our industry’s major product.  “Believing our products have no rivals makes our companies vulnerable to dramatic innovations from outside our industries – often by smaller, newer companies that are focusing on customer needs rather than the products themselves.”

3. We can protect ourselves through mass production. “By focusing on mass production emphasizes our company’s needs – when we should be emphasizing our customers’.”

4. Technical research and development will ensure our growth. “”When R&D produces breakthrough products, we may be tempted to organize around the technology rather than the consumer.”

Later in the article, Levitt suggests, “the organization must learn to think of itself not as producing goods or services but as buying customers, as doing all things that will make people want to do business with it.”

In “Ending the War Between Sales and Marketing, the co-authors (Philip Kotler, Neil Rackham, and Suj Krishnaswamy) offer invaluable advice on how to achieve integration between sales and marketing by focusing on four categories of specific tasks:

Integrate activities (e.g. Jointly involve sales and marketing in product planning and in setting sales targets)
Integrate processes and systems (e.g. Implement systems to track sales and marketing’s joint activities)
Enable the culture (e.g. Emphasize shared responsibility for results between different divisions of the organization)
Integrate organizational structures (e.g. Split marketing into upstream and downstream teams)

Other articles in this anthology I especially enjoyed include “Rethinking Marketing” (Roland T. Rust, Christine Moorman, and Gaurav Bhalla), “Marketing Malpractice: The Cause and the Cure” (Clayton M. Christensen, Scott Cook, and Taddy Hall), and “Getting Brand Communities Right (Susan Fournier and Lara Lee).


The Marketing Imagination
Theodore Levitt

Brand Relevance
David A. Aaker

Al Ries and Jack Trout


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