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Marketing in the Public Sector

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Marketing in the Public Sector

A Roadmap for Improved Performance

Wharton School Publishing,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The public sector should get over the idea that it's too pure to use private-sector marketing know-how.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee encourage governments to learn from private sector marketing principles and techniques. It's a great idea, and they make a persuasive case that "social marketing" can change society, or at least certain aspects of it. The book is full of practical tips. Using examples from social marketing campaigns around the world, Kotler and Lee demonstrate how to apply basic marketing ideas in the public sector. Creative approaches have injected new life into many social programs, ranging from environmental awareness to customer service. getAbstract recommends this book to public officials and leaders of nonprofit organizations who are looking for new ways to educate their constituents.


Maximizing the Public Good

All governments have three basic functions:

  1. To implement the culture's underlying principles.
  2. To establish health standards and provide for public safety and national defense.
  3. To deliver services that the private sector and nonprofits cannot provide, such as social programs for the poor.

In addition to the federal government, the U.S. has 50 state governments, 83,000 local government agencies, and thousands of county, city and special taxing districts. U.S. citizens pay about 40% of their gross incomes in taxes, so they want to be sure that all these governments and agencies spend their money well. When they believe the government is wasting their money, they lose confidence in their elected officials and agitate for reform.

Both the government and the people benefit when government agencies successfully meet social needs. High-quality public programs encourage citizens to become involved in their government, while reducing costs. "Social marketing" is the promotion of public programs using basic marketing principles.

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About the Authors

Philip Kotler is a professor of international marketing at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a consultant to major companies. He is the author of Marketing Management and 34 other books. Nancy Lee has more than 25 years of marketing experience in the public and private sectors. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Washington. Kotler and Lee also co-wrote Social Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility.

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