Do The Four P’s Still Rule Marketing Thinking?
The title posts a perfectly fair and legitimate question. With so much in our world changing so quickly, it’s often good to check even our most basic, bedrock assumptions to see if they still apply. To answer the question posed, let’s first look at the “Four P’s” themselves and see what makes them tick. It may be the case that it’s been so long since you thought much about them you’ve forgotten what they actually involve, in which case, a re-introduction is in order.
Product (or Service)
This one still very definitely rules the roost. After all, without a product or service to actually sell, you have no business. You might have a most excellent charity or think tank, but unless you’re actually offering something for sale, you can’t really call yourself a business, or if you try, then you won’t be one for very long.
In terms of the product/service, you’ve got to answer a number of key questions before you can get much beyond this point. Questions of utility, such as:
* What do customers actually use this (whatever it is) for?
* What features make such uses possible?
* Does your “flavor” of the product have most or all of those core features?
* Does it offer anything extra?
* Are the extras useful and actually used, or are they dead weight?
* What sizes/colors/styles should the product be offered in, or do these things even matter?
* What makes ours different from everyone else’s?
Where do buyers look for you, your product, or your service? In a store? If yes – what kind? Sporting Goods? Tech? Big Box Retail…where? Do you have access to an optimal or near-optimal distribution channel? If no, can you realistically change that? Do you have or need a sales force? Trade shows? Free samples and catalogs? Again, all of these are pivotal and utterly defining. The internet may have added a few new items to the list, but they’ve by no means rendered this element unimportant or obsolete.
This, of course, is where the rubber meets the road. How much is it worth to your customers? Are they price sensitive, or not so much? How do your costs stack against this price? What discounts can you offer to different segments of your market, and are these even effective – because sometimes, they aren’t. And of course, the biggie; how does your price compare to the prices of your competitors? Can you justify a higher price? What is your rationale for being lower if, in fact, you are?
This is primarily concerned with the wheres and whens of your marketing message. What venues are the most appropriate? Are there specific times that are more effective to promote – note that this could be a particular time of day or a season, or something else entirely.
Here, we see clearly that the internet has opened up whole new vistas that simply never existed before. There are a whole raft of social media choices (Pinterest, Twitter Instagram, Facebook, etc) and marketing to each of them is a different process, requiring a different focus and set of skills.
Clearly the rise of the internet and instant, round the clock communications has changed the nature of the game, and by extension, the nature of some of the factors that lie beneath the “4 P’s” model, the model itself is still viable. More options and possibilities than ever before, but still intact at the root.