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.


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