The Evolving Four P's of Marketing


I'm sure you remember sitting in your marketing class in college when your instructor blurted something about the Four P's of Marketing. If you were not paying attention or sometimes missed class that day, here is a quick review. It's really a simple concept that is still employed by many of the Fortune 500 companies today.

A Quick Review of the Four P's

Marketing strategies generally fall into four categories known as the four P's: they are product, price, place (or distribution), and promotion. Most marketing managers (sometimes referred to as product marketing managers) have complete control of the product from manufacturing and distribution to marketing and promotions. The end goal, of course, is to make strategic decisions that center the four P's around the target consumer group in order to communicate an effective value proposition and create a positive customer experience.

The term "product" refers to the tangible, physical product itself. This includes the design of the form factor, the brand name, the features and functionality, quality, safety, packaging, the warranty, etc.

When considering "price", marketers must take a holistic view of the total cost to manufacture the product, distribution costs and advertising costs; as well facilitating a competitive analysis and sometimes a focus group to find the target price that consumers are willing to pay. Other considerations include refining a pricing strategy, suggesting a retail price, volume discounts and wholesale pricing, seasonal pricing, and bundling the product with other products.

The distribution of the product (or place) is about getting the product from the warehouse to the customer and all the steps between. Marketers must consider the most effective distribution channels, develop a supply chain management strategy, identify specific channel partners, inventory management, warehousing, order processing, and transportation.

The last thing marketers must consider is promotion. Promotion represents the various characteristics of an integrated marketing communication plan; that is, the communication messages that inform, educate and persuade consumers to buy the product. An effective integrated marketing communication plan would include: advertising (online and offline), personal selling, direct marketing, sales promotions, public relations; as well as establishing a marketing budget and identifying measurable goals.

Is there anything else to think about?

Absolutely. Since we are on the subject of harmonics, introducing the Six C's of marketing. These concepts are not meant to replace the four P's, but rather compliment them. They provide a more granular look at the overall marketing strategy while taking into consideration the following: customer, consistency, creativity, culture, communication and change.

Customer – this means that an organization's marketing strategy needs to be customer focused. It's about intimately understanding the target market not as demographics, but as real, everyday people. It's about focusing on the target customer first and then working back to the product and or service; and then quite the brand. It's a never ending cyclical process.

Consistency – how many times have you heard mixed messages from the same company's advertising? Marketers need to maintain consistency in their communication messages to reinvigorate the value proposition to the target consumer. This will also serve to reinvigorate the brand in a real life context and avoid doing something lame like changing the Nike tag line from "just do it" to something different.

Creativity – it is important to use creativity to attract the attention of the target consumer since they are bombarded with thousands of messages per day. Creativity means laying aside the "traditional" rules of advertising, and challenges marketers to think out-of-box so that they can tap into their imaginations.

Culture – all marketing messages need to have a cross-cultural component in order to be effective. It is dangerous to think that everyone in the world (including your target consumer) thinks, acts and makes purchase decisions exactly like you. It's not true and having this perspective can prove to be hazardous to your marketing health.

Communication – people do not appreciate "in your face" advertising. They do not want to be "marketed to" either. They would much be "communicated with". Effective communication creates value with target customers, speaks in their language and tells your story.

Change – do not fight it, embrace it. Change is here to stay! Marketers must constantly change as society changes. They should never be afraid to step out in faith to try something different. Marketing today is not what it used to be; it is constantly evolving and marketers must consider change in the world, economy, market, consumers perceptions; as well as internal change within the organization.


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