The New Four P’s of Marketing — Part 2

So we’ve discussed Proof and why it’s critical to demonstrate that what you do and what you say means something to customers.

Now let’s discuss what you can do to demonstrate that Proof — go get yourself some Presence.

  • Presence — You can’t prove anything to anyone without having a Presence. And not just in terms of being there when there’s a need, or having an ad in the right place, or dropping a direct mail piece at the right time. Presence is also being there when there’s not a need. Presence means providing knowledge. It means creating or defining needs in addition to meeting needs — for example, by providing content and establishing credibility as an expert.  Or using customer interaction and knowledge to develop meaningful solutions. Presence helps you deliver the Proof.
    There are many ways to have Presence — and you need to be knowledgable about all of them, from traditional tactics like emails and direct mail, to online tactics like Google keywords, to social media engagement tools like Twitter. Maybe you don’t need them all, depending on your audience, but you better know their strengths and weaknesses. 
    And you better make sure your Presence evolves with your customers.  Otherwise, they move on and your Presence is meaningless.  There are alot of things you should be doing to stay up-to-date on new aspects of social media that allow interaction and dialogue with customers. Like Google Wave, for example. Your customers may be in all these social media nooks and crannies, and if you’re not there with them as part of the conversation then you have no Presence.
    Sure, you can still have 20th century Presence.  We still need it!  You can still send direct mail and email, run ads, hand out samples and all the other marketing tactics we develop and refine with great effort.  Hell, traditional marketing works wonders when done right. Yet if your bag of tactics has not expanded to include social media in whatever ways and websites and widgets your customers love and interact with — then you will now find that your traditional marketing has alot tougher time succeeding.  Competitors who create interaction are too easy to find, and they’ll steal your business with with their Presence.
    Presence is scalable, and it depends on your customers.  It may require people who live and breathe social media every minute of every day — bloggers, Tweeters, Tumblrs and Diggers. Or it may require a simple Facebook fan page.  And it certainly requires a mix of traditional marketing in some form.  So it must be guided by someone with comfortable vision of both traditional and new.

Next post discusses the third P: Persuasion.

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The New Four P’s of Marketing — Part 1

In a way, it’s not even appropriate to say “Things change fast” any more. It’s like saying “The sky is blue” or “AT&T sucks” or something else equally obvious.

Change is such an engrained part of the marketing landscape now, sometimes things change and you don’t even notice. Hell, you even start doing things the new way without even missing a beat or sometimes acknowledging the change. Stakes are so high and time is so precious. You evolve in real time and stop at some point later to reflect and evaluate what you did and how it performed.

The Four P’s are one of marketing’s hallmark principles. For decades, marketers were raised on Product, Price, Place and Promotion as the backbone strategic drivers behind what we do. And since so much of marketing was driven by companies and not customers, there was never a need to evolve. The Four P’s have driven our education, our strategy and our tactics for years.

Enter the rise of social media and the connected customer.

Now, even the Four P’s of marketing — the pillars of our discipline — have changed. Companies, marketers and our co-owned strategies have to find and keep customers using a new set of driving principles. It’s time to relearn what we do, whether you like it or not. We have to embrace a new Four P’s of Marketing: Proof, Presence, Persuasion and Price.

We’ll look at each one in-depth in a four-part series of posts.

  • Proof — It’s no longer good enough to just produce a product, put a price on it and put it out there. That’s recipe for failure.  In an era of ultra-competition, you have to prove that your product or solution is the right one. That you’re reliable and ethical. That you provide a unique value or experience. That you’re consistent. You may even have to prove many things to many people depending on your customers’ values. For example, that you’re service-oriented or socially conscious or financially sound (especially now). You have to prove that your product is right too — that it’s meant to solve a customer’s problem or need, that it’s quality, that it’s worth their time.
    Hell, even when the customer believes your product is right, even if they believe what you stand for, you have to prove that you offer the best place to buy it — several other options are always a nanosecond away online. How many mashup sites are there that compare product prices for people?  Several dozen, maybe.  So you have to prove your retail or online experience is all the things discussed above also.
    Plus. how you prove it matters. Do you engage customers where they live and communicate, or do you implore them to come to you? Do you blare monologue or encourage dialogue? Are you reactive or interactive? You can’t just say something and call it Proof — you have to engage customers in conversations and meaningful interactions, and let them decide and label it.  That seal of approval — the customer-driven one, the viral one –is worth more than any other.
    Experience matters too. If you have a great product yet a lousy purchase process, you lose. A great event with a lousy registration process, you lose. A great retail store with average service or vanilla employee passion, no way.  A slick-looking website with poor functionality, you lose. Excellence matters, from first contact through shopping cart checkout, upsell messaging to customer service, website personalization to employee friendliness.  It all has to be right.  Otherwise the only thing you’re proving is that you know how to get it wrong, you know how to do it the old way.
    Hence, Proof now leads off the Four P’s of Marketing.

Stay tuned for a look at the next P soon: Presence.

Social Media Revisited

I’m not even sure that’s the right title for this post. It seems like everything we do nowadays involves social media — maybe this should be called “Social Media Yet Again.”

Anyway, in the past I’ve focused on things like measuring social media ROI and the demands of doing social media right. I took a good, long look at a couple articles recently that I want to pass along, since they highlight several important points about the evolving nature of social media.

  • The 5 Phases of Social Experience — this CRM magazine column from a Forrester analyst makes a compelling case for the evolving nature of social media and your social experience online, ultimately climxing in the Web becoming a completely social, customer-controlled experience driven by portable identities, personalization and relevance. Do you know what phase we’re in now? Read up.
  • Social Shepards — also from CRM, this article point out the tenuous relationship between social media and corporate liability, transparency and risk. The growing number of employees who participate in social media on behalf of brands, as well as in the interest of building strong personal brands, increases the liklihood of inappropriateness or information-sharing that could negatively affect the company. Don’t think you need a social media policy? Read this and then go start working on it.
  • The New Currency of Social Media — yet again from CRM, this article highlights this solid key point:

    “We spend most of our social media energy passively capturing from the information any feedback we can…Passive feedback loops give us a good understanding of how things are now, but they don’t give much hint about where things are going…you’re essentially driving by watching the rearview mirror.”

    The point is you need to actively engage customers to learn about customer needs in the future. Can be much more important than passive listening. Want to know why? Read up.

  • How Speakers Should Integrate Social Into Their Presentation — an insightful post that highlights ways that speakers can not only counteract negative audience reaction in the backchannel, but act on and incorporate real time backchannel feedback into their active presentation. Have no clue what that first sentence means? Don’t think real-time audience reaction is important? Do you speak alot? Run events where people speak? Then read this article now.

I also want to highlight one last key point, highlighted in a CRM recap from some Twitter conversation. A very sharp @dmscott (speaker and author David Meerman Scott) chimes in with this:

“Social media is like a cocktail party. Do u shout “BUY MY PRODUCT”? Ask for business cards? Or just meet people and talk?”

Perfectly said in terms of how you should charge ahead into Twitter. It’s amazing how many people and companies don’t get it right.

Don’t Overlook Legal Issues

The field of marketing evolves so fast now. If you can’t process information quickly, you might as well look for another occupation.

As you take a good, long look at blogs, talk to customers, read articles and do the key things you need to do over the next 7 days and beyond, keep in mind that legal issues are one thing you shouldn’t overlook. While we do have a number of legal issues we keep abreast of as second nature — CAN-SPAM, privacy, contest laws, etc. — new issues always pop up and have immediate implications.

Case in point: check out this article on two important new potential legal issues for marketers. One issue involves marketing to kids under 18 in Maine. It raises alot of questions. Are there kids on your marketing lists, even if your products aren’t targeted to them? Do you need to age-verify your customers? Will other states follow suit? These questions and numerous others merit your time to discuss with your legal team and take steps to rectify any potential pitfalls.

The second issues concerns the deliverability of email to Yahoo inboxes. It raises a valid point about the necessity of certified deliverability services. Above all, this reinforces that you have to stay current with and build your emails based on the current best practices to best position your message to be delivered. Yet it also begs the question will we move towards an email environment where third-party approval is a must to get your message delivered? In some cases it may, and you should be ready to charge ahead and sell up that extra cost to the person who approves your budget.