It's Time for a Marketeer to Lead!
    Category: Column By : Hermawan Kartajaya Read : 1117 Date : Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 09:51:20

    This year’s presidential debates were undoubtedly exciting. But what caught my attention was that Joko Widodo (Jokowi) was the only one who mentioned the words market, marketer and marketing in three of the five rounds. Jokowi argued that the creative industry can grow if the market is well developed. The same applies to agriculture. Agricultural expansion would have no use if the farmers do not know where to sell their produce. Jokowi was also the person who suggested that ambassadors and diplomats must be good marketers to promote Indonesia.

    On Sunday, four days after the presidential election, I had the opportunity to meet with Jokowi at his house in Solo. He told me that he believes that marketing is indeed important for Indonesia across the board. He was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had taught marketing in Senior Diplomatic Course (Sesparlu) and Mid-Career Diplomatic Course (Sesdilu) for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He argued that there should be more marketing courses for diplomats to promote Indonesia’s tourism, trade and investment.

    As a furniture entrepreneur, business and marketing indeed run in Jokowi’s blood. After graduating from Universitas Gajah Mada’s Faculty of Forestry, Jokowi worked in a company in Aceh. But due to his entrepreneurial passion,

    he came back to Solo. After working with his uncle, he built his own furniture company. Once almost bankrupt, he rebuilt the business after words of encouragement from his mother. His business was very successful and even penetrated the Singapore market. From this experience, Jokowi was trained to see opportunities and take risks.

    It seemed that entrepreneurship indeed runs in the family. Gibran, Jokowi’s eldest son, did not enter the furniture business and instead started a catering business. This business has now expanded into a wedding organizer specializing in complex Javanese weddings. Gibran told me that to build the business, he focused on the front office first and then the back office. It seemed that Gibran inherited his father’s marketing mindset. Sujiatmi Notomiharjo, Jokowi’s mother, told me that although Jokowi is not talkative, he is fearless in facing any situation. Sujiatmi also told me that Jokowi has huge curiousity. His blusukan (direct field observation) habit started when he was a small boy. He used to go to villages accompanied by his nanny. Riyo Slamekto, Jokowi’s roommate in Jogja, said that young Jokowi was more of a listener than a speaker. Jokowi’s habit of going to the field and listening shows the true character of a marketer.

    Interestingly, Jokowi brought the marketing concepts into politics. When relocating street vendors, Jokowi always promoted the benefits of selling in the new market locations. Jokowi’s marketing approach is also very modern. His political campaigns have always involved Internet marketing as well.

    From what I saw, his horizontal, inclusive, and social marketing approach came naturally. It was not merely branding. He controlled his emotions well even when facing black campaigns. He coined the phrase “political happiness” during presidential campaign—which follows the new trend that marketing is no longer “marketing warfare” but “marketing with love.” To me, customers or voters are not target market anymore. They are friends. And the other candidate is not an enemy, but a competitor. It is time for a new Indonesia, led by the first Marketing President!