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The ten commandments of marketing

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Greg Soetomo |  27 February 2007

You cannot worship God and Mammon, Jesus says. But when people see themselves as divided by their understanding of God, Mammon can be a bridge on which they can stand together and talk. Hermawan Kartajaya reminded me of this recently.

Hermawan is one of the most interesting people I’ve met in Indonesia. He is Chinese by blood. But he was born, grew up and has worked entirely in Indonesia. He communicates mostly in Javanese and Indonesian.

He is interesting for many reasons. He is a prolific writer of best-sellers on marketing in Indonesia . He is currently the President of the World Marketing Association (WMA), and the Chartered Institute of Marketing –United Kingdom (CIM-UK) has named him one of the "50 Gurus who have shaped the future of Marketing World".

I find him interesting because of his approach to marketing. He once told me, "When I speak on marketing, I actually spread Christian values." One of his marketing guides is called The Ten Commandments of Compassionate Marketing. To Christian ears, the first of the commandments sounds very attractive: "Love your customers, respect your competitors."

Hermawan, a Roman Catholic, was once a marketing manager of a cigarette company. He then founded MarkPlus & Co to offer programmes on marketing training and research. For some time he was disillusioned by the Catholic Church and its leaders. Finally he met a church minister who made him go back to his faith. He later took Bible classes and studied church teaching.

But he is not a religious preacher. He remains a marketing expert. He tells his listeners, "I eat, walk, and sleep marketing. I even dream of marketing." He is intensely involved.

The way he sells his marketing concept, however, has religious relevance today. He has co-authored books with Abdullah Gymnastiar, the most renowned and dynamic Muslim preacher in Indonesia. Aa Gym (elder brother Gym), addresses Islamic values to his audience, while spreading a practical message of prosperity and piety.

Their book, Compassionate Business, explores Gym’s thinking on Qolbu Management in the light of Hermawan’s ten commandments of compassionate marketing. In the course of writing the book, Hermawan found himself engaging in dialogue with other believers, especially with Muslims. There is nothing new in this. But it is striking that two men of different faiths and areas of expertise came together to explore Islamic values-based marketing.

Hermawan then took another step. He invited another Muslim professional, Muhammad Syakir Sula, to jointly write Sharia Marketing: Business Principles Based on Islamic Values. Muhammad is CEO of Batasa Tazkia, a sharia consultant bureau well recognized by the Indonesian sharia banking and insurance community.

When Sharia Marketing was published, Hermawan became well known in Muslim communities. He recently travelled to Malaysia to lecture on sharia marketing. His listeners continually wonder if he has converted to Islam. He surprises the audience by initially greeting them in Muslim style with 'Assalamu alaikum.' But at the end of his lectures, he tells his hearers, "I’m still Catholic".

As Hermawan tries to understand more deeply the teaching of the catholic church, he is struck by its central quality. "What I have found most powerful in Catholic doctrine is its humanism." For Hermawan, humanism is a universal value that unites all human beings in their desire to make a better life.



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Submitted comments

Hello, Fr. Greg...it's good to hear you are doing fine in your media apostolate! I've read your article "The Ten Commandments on Marketing". That's true, the Gospel has to be incorporated even in the marketing world. Am very glad to know you are into writing. You can do a lot of good here. Praying for you and your companions-Srs. Lyn, Athens & Jopet (your friends at LST-Manila)

Sr. Lyn, FSP 21 July 2009

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