I hope you’re enjoying my series on Back to Marketing Basics as much as I am. Not only are marketing basics fundamental building blocks of firm performance, the Back to Marketing Basics series explores how marketing is a living thing — evolving over time. Today, I wanna talk about the 4 P’s marketing mix model and what it means for firm success.
If you’ve ever had a marketing course, you learned the 4 P’s — this marketing mix model around which a basic marketing plan revolves. As academics, we’ve long argued that this arcane framework no longer fits the reality of marketing in the digital era where power shifted toward consumers — where many of argued it should have been all along.
Recently, practitioners entered the fray, with their own take on whether the 4 P’s still fit, whether they should be replaced by the 4 C’s (or 5 C’s) or whether we just change the P’s into a different 4 P’s or add a couple to make 7 P’s. In researching this article, I even ran into a SAVE framework (courtesy of HBR) that has some value. I even entered into the debate a couple of years ago — with classic net neutrality — by showing some alternatives to the original 4 P’s marketing mix. But, do any of these REALLY work in a digital environment?
Why your marketing mix matters
As originally proposed, the 4 p’s of marketing reflect the internal environment (also called the situation analysis or controllable factors). These elements of a basic marketing plan
Ok, so maybe you just think this is some semantic discussion and who cares what the marketing mix looks like. We’ll, you’d be dead wrong. Because the marketing mix controls most other aspects of marketing strategy and focuses firm attention on certain elements of their business, having the “right” marketing mix makes a BIG difference in firm performance. After all, the marketing mix is at the center of a basic marketing plan.
Now, I’m willing to concede that subtle difference in the marketing mix probably occur in different industries. But, I wholeheartedly believe there are more similarities about the marketing mix than there are differences. Of course, B2B marketers and service marketers might argue with me. Let them!
The NEW marketing mix model — SACK
What would I put in my marketing mix model? Hmmm. Good question.
I’d SACK the competition
People have problems and they buy solutions to their problems. They don’t buy products.
I don’t need a hammer. I have this problem of attaching 2 pieces of wood. The hammer helps solve this problem for me.
And, folks only want the “best” available solution to their problem. Create a crappy hammer and I’m just not that interested. Your solutions also defines your competition. In my hammer example, Liquid Nails also solves my problem of attaching wood together. Make sure you’re always the BEST solution in the room — and it’s OK to tell the market that, but better to show them.
Inherently, the best solutions provides value to the consumer — both tangible and psychic value.
I really hate companies that are incompetent. Building competence means aligning your business processes. Hiring the right people, motivating them to do their best (read carrot, not stick), create a learning organization (rather than “always be selling”; “always be learning”), and constantly evaluate your processes. Remember, according to Deming, 90% of all failures are due to process. Build competency into your firm and stay competent as the world evolves.
Obviously, customers MUST fit into a key spot in your marketing mix model. Make customers happy and most other things take care of themselves.
Customers are most happy when embedded in a pleasing social environment — a community. We’re not solitary creatures and love being around other folks to share stories, feeling, and crazy cat memes. Give your market a place to build community and a flagpole to gather around, and they’re happy. For instance, Secret deodorant created a campaign around “Mean Stinks” which takes on school bullying. Consumers rally around the flagpole and support the brand.
Communications (OK I fudged the K a little, but so does the classic 4 P’s marketing mix model)–
Again, a no brainer. But, rather than using marketing communications as a way of “telling” your market about your brand, use marketing communications as a way to “showing” them the value of your brand. That means less advertising and more storytelling; fewer brand communications and more engaging your market. Marketing communications should focus on building community.
Need help building the “right” marketing mix?
We can help. Whether you need a complete marketing strategy or just some help with your marketing mix. You can request a FREE introductory meeting using my vCita pop-up or sign up for my email newsletter to learn more about social media marketing.