Wonder Why Their Sales Falter

Upon a re-reading of Kotlers marketing classic Marketing Management (9th ed.) I stumbled across a few passages, in which he links a taxonomy of market orientations with some unusual organizations: Churches and political parties.

"The product concept leads to the kind of marketing myopia we discussed ealier in this chapter. Railroad management thought that railroad users wanted trains rather than transportation and overlooked the growing challenge of airlines, buses, trucks, and automobiles. Slide-rule manufacturers thought that engineers wanted slide rules rather than calculating capacity and overlooked the challenge of pocket calculators. Churches, department stores, and the post office all assume that they are offering the public the right product and wonder why their sales falter. These organizations too often are looking into a mirror when they should be looking out of the window." p. 18.

Imagine priests in a board room meeting, listening to analysis of the most recent focus group output, outlining what grand questions are on the minds of the young and old. Should they really continously modify prayers and preaching to match up with the most recent developments on the sin market?

"[...] The selling concept is also practiced in the nonprofit area by fund-raisers, college admissions offices, and political parties. A political party vigorously “sells” its candidate to the voters. The candidate stomps through voting precincts from early morning to late evening, shaking hands, kissing babies, meeting donors, and making speeches. Countless dollars are spent on radio and television advertising, posters, and mailings. The candidate’s flaws are concealed from the public because the aim is to make the sale, not to worry about postpurchase satisfaction. After the election, the new official continues to take a sales-oriented view toward the citizens. There is little research into what the public wants and a lot of selling to get the public to accept policies that the politician or party wants." p. 19

The theoretically superior concept is the marketing concept that integrates marketing activities with all aspects of the organization. As political parties, such as the Blair/Labour party, are learning more sophisticated marketing thinking we might one day give birth to the marketing concept based democracy. So much for idealism. Remember, the customer is always right.