Philip Kotler commentary on Peter Drucker and the current state of marketing

Mark Schaefer
3 min readApr 10

I recently had a dream come true when I got to meet my marketing hero Philp Kotler. He was the author of my first marketing textbook that influenced me to get into marketing, and at 91, he remains an inspiration to me and countless others.

Although it was largely a personal conversation — he told me he loved my Marketing Rebellion book! — we also had an interesting discussion about Peter Drucker, who was my teacher and mentor in the early 1990s. Dr. Kotler said one of the great honors of his life was meeting Peter Drucker, and it was one of the few times in his life he was ever nervous!

He had some interesting observations about this great man, and I thought I would pass them on to you. A legend discussing a legend …

Dr. Philip Kotler on Peter Drucker:

“Peter Drucker was really the first real marketer. He saw early in the 1950s that the question every company should ask is, what is your purpose? And his answer was, “not to make money.”

“In fact, he said that making money gets in the way of doing the right things. The purpose of a business is to create a customer, and then went on to say that we better understand what is “value” to a customer, and you can’t define that unless you understand what the customer defines as value.

“But altogether, he saw business embracing a service philosophy. The business exists to serve. Peter Drucker always saw a company as more than just an economic machine. It was a social organization. And it has social responsibilities.

I mean, he wrote early on about what became corporate social responsibility.

“Like me, Drucker did not see marketing as an isolated function, which is a problem in universities today — creating majors and courses in silos. I teach marketing, and someone else teaches finance, and that’s not the real world. Real world problems come at the intersection of two functions, or three functions, and so on.

Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, marketing strategy consultant, Rutgers U faculty and author of 10 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Belonging to the Brand!