When people thought of marketing 5 years ago, it always used to be about the 4Ps and felt very theoretical. Where as like most Marketing tools, it’s distilling things into common sense decisions. If you want to sell a boat, don’t open a boatyard in Coventry etc…
The Ps are often sneered at or seen as out of date, however I wanted to discuss that how even now they still have huge relevance on effective marketing for your business and it’s overall success.
Let’s get the definitions out the way quickly, so we are all on the same page. I’ll make these as simple as I can, even though they are quite well known, as however they can be misused, especially ‘Promotion’.
So, once upon a time there were 4P’s:
Product - what you are selling or service provided
Place - where you sell or market yourself or your products
Price - what the cost to someone is to buy your Product / service
Promotion - how you are advertising (not discounts etc… that falls under Price).
As with all theories these needed to described more succinctly and the term “Marketing Mix” was created. Which is define loosely as “all the things you have influence or control over to convince your customers to buy from you”. So simply, you can change the price; you can take your services online; change packs from 4 units to 6 units; or look for different audiences to use your products.
This “Marketing Mix” just wraps all your decisions into one statement, that sounds more complicated than it really is. If anything it was overused to make Marketeers sound like they had more relevance in a “sales led” market place back in the 70s, where their focus was on fighting to be valued or recognised within their own companies.
Then later, more smart people added 3 more…
People - you, your team, salesmen, third party retailers. Basically anyone your customer might be able to contact.
Process - The part of your service or delivery the customer know they are paying for (they may not know you source parts from multiple vendors etc…)
and the ever catchy…
Physical Evidence - No one likes to buy something and have nothing to show, so this is why insurance companies will provide certificates or even a free Meerkat toy, to give you something solid to show for your purchase.
These gave much more relevance to the need of marketeers and marketing in general. Gone had the premise that Marketing was there to support sales. If you can imagine a line with Product at one end and sales at the other. This used to be supported with Marketing in the middle. Doing the beck and call of the sales team. This process changed as marketing took the lead from sales.
The sales teams were changed to Sales & Marketing, to avoid internal confusions but the only thing that mattered was that Marketing had become more important. With the correct Marketing sales should be easier and salesman would need to be less talented (caveat “in the main”). If your marketing creates an effective call to action (how to buy) and your salesmen have the tools to capture and sign up, then business is easy. The flow of a sale had changed as the customer need became more important than the old fashioned sales approach of showcasing features.
So the P’s became 7 and then 8 when the Productivity & Quality was included. This is about the quality of product or service your customer receives. To me it’s one that is easily covered in the other 7ps. Let's quickly move on.
So you might be asking how do these help me and why should you know them. Well these Ps are all still relevant, they are and will always remain part of the selling process, as well as being something every business owner considers when reviewing their business offerings on a regular basis.
However, what has changed is the audience. Long gone are the times that your customers were nice and easy to segment, all in one place or have the limitations of location/choice. So you need to work harder to market your products or services. Customers need and customer choice now dictate the landscape, no creating something and hope it will be bought. You need to asking your potential customers if they would buy your product or service, long before you’ve even started to offer it or make it. Do your research find out more about your customers, you can never learn enough.
Look at developments over the last 10 years with concepts such as kick-starter. Look at the premise. People who have an idea can watch it fail (and sometimes succeed) in record time. But it’s brilliant, have an idea, get it out there, no likes it, no harm done. Taking a punt, can be as easy as making a prototype out of paper or sketching it out on a pad. This “rapid prototyping” allows ideas to fail and be reborn based on feedback in days rather than months of waiting and spiralling costs.
For those of you who are marketing something not as flexible or suitable for something like kick-starter… this is the same as trialling, testing and pivoting (tweaking your offering when live in the market). It’s all built around the 4Ps/7Ps/8Ps, but more importantly around how well you can adapt to your customers needs.
So my views are the P’s remain as important as ever, but it’s the way you approach them that will continually change.