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Is the New Alphabet Soup of Marketing “M’m! M’m! Good?”

First, a little history: The 4 Ps describing the strategic position of a product in the marketplace were first used in 1948 when James Culliton said that a marketing decision should be a result of something similar to a recipe. Then in 1953, Neil Borden, in his American Marketing Association’s presidential address, coined the term “marketing mix.” E. Jerome McCarthy, a prominent marketer, was the first to propose the 4 P classification in 1960. Since then, McCarthy’s definition has become widely accepted as the classic 4 Ps of marketing.

What are the classic 4 Ps?
Product — an object or a service that is mass-produced or manufactured on a large scale with a specific volume of units.
Price — the amount a customer pays for the product.
Place — the location where a product can be purchased. It is often referred to as the distribution channel.
Promotion — all of the communications that a marketer may use in the marketplace.

Criticism of the classic 4 Ps
Over the years, the classic 4 Ps have received a fair amount of criticism. Peter Doyle, in his book Value Based Marketing, claims that the “marketing mix” approach leads to unprofitable decisions because it is not grounded in financial objectives such as increasing shareholder value. He argues that a net present value approach maximizing shareholder value provides a “rational framework” for managing the marketing mix.

Some people claim that the 4 Ps are focused only on consumer markets and are not applicable to industrial product marketing. Others claim it has too strong of a product market perspective and is not appropriate for the marketing of services.

Where are we today?
In recent times, People, Process, and Physical evidence were added to the original 4 Ps to create the newly expanded system of 7 Ps. But whether you subscribe to the 4 Ps or the 7 Ps, there is no denying that they all focus on the manufacturer of the product or the service provider. These classic “push” strategies are no longer effective in today’s consumer-centric, personalized experience and “relevant content” marketplace. Marketers need something new to connect on a more granular level with their customers.

The modern 4 Ps
The increasing empowerment of the customer, the exponential growth in the use of Internet-based media and ever-increasing marketing complexities have forced marketers to rethink their strategies. Today, the emphasis is on a more customer-centric approach. Let’s face it — we as marketers no longer control the message. It is now all about the buying process and not the selling process. We need to view the world as our customers/clients do, and not as we want them to.

What, then, are the new 4 Ps? I read a white paper titled “Modernize Your Marketing for the Age of the Empowered Customer: Adopt the New Four Ps” from Unica Corporation that describes them as follows:

Personalization — this means making sure each prospect or customer only receives/views relevant product information, pricing and special offers. Think pre-populated landing pages with personalized URLs (PURLS).
Presence — this means top-of-mind awareness when the customer is doing his/her research and is ready to make a buying decision. Think relevant keyword searches, user reviews, and bloggers talking about your company, products and services.
Persuasion — this means convincing customers to take a desired action, but that shouting your message to get attention will be looked upon as being arrogant, pushy and too salesy. Instead, use a softer approach by building your reputation via a corporate blog, key employees being active and visible in social networks, and/or being there to help your customers with relevant content to solve their problems with your solutions.
Permission — this means accepting the fact that the customer is in control, and communication with them through any medium is a privilege and is not to be taken for granted. Think permission based e-mail marketing, respecting your subscribers’ wishes to unsubscribe at any time and without any reason, not abusing your tracking reports by bombarding your customers with irrelevant follow-up e-mails or phone calls and not hiding all your useful content behind registration forms.

Introducing the 4 Ts
If your head isn’t already spinning, here is another twist to the classics: the 4 Ts of marketing in the Internet era. These come from a white paper from GlobalSpec called, “Lead Generation and Management Strategies That Get Results: Applying Classic Marketing Fundamentals in the Internet Era.” What are the 4 Ts?

Target — this is knowing exactly who you are trying to reach, staying focused and crafting your marketing communications based on the behavior of your target audience and not the other way around.
Tactics — this is the media mix that will be most effective in reaching your audience. The trend is shifting your marketing dollars from traditional print, trade shows, etc., toward search marketing, Web site redesigns, e-mail marketing, online directories, webinars, podcasting and other social media marketing tactics.
Transact — this refers to opening a two-way channel of communication between you and your customers and prospects. It is the building block of forming a relationship, aligning your marketing and sales, capturing, nurturing and managing your leads through the entire sales cycle.
Track — this is being able to show quantifiable results across all channels, having hard-core data at your fingertips, and being able to test and refine your campaigns based on real-world results and not guesswork.

According to the research done by GlobalSpec, the 4 Ts have become very important because of two primary reasons. They are as follows:

  1. To help you get the most out of the Internet in your B2B sales and marketing efforts.
    Their surveys show that more than 90% of engineers and technical buyers use the Internet to search for products and components.
  2. To help improve the alignment between sales and marketing within an organization.
    When it comes to capturing new prospects, less than 7% of corporate officers reported their sales and marketing departments worked together effectively.

Here we go again
I recently received an e-mail from one of 1to1 Media’s partners. It was about rewards and customer loyalty programs. According to this e-mail, you need to Motivate, Engage, Inspire, Knock Their Socks Off in order to make your programs more rewarding.

What is your soup du jour?

Resources:

  • Marketing Mix – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Peter Doyle, Value based marketing, Wiley, Chichester, 2000
  • Modernize Your Marketing for the Age of the Empowered Customer: Adopt the New Four Ps, White paper from Unica Corporation, 2008
  • Lead Generation and Management Strategies That get Results: Applying Classic Marketing Fundamentals in the Internet Era, White paper from GlobalSpec, 2008
  • 1to1 Partner Alerts, Rewards Direct by Maritz, 2008

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