Marketing 2019: Are Only Four Ps Enough?

Marketing 2019: Are Only Four Ps Enough? by David Hadeler, brand strategist at The Loomis Agency, the country's leading challenger brand advertising agency, a leading agency in Dallas and the voice of the underdog

In reality, marketers today must focus on at least 20 things, not four.  Most of us are familiar with the marketing maxim of The Four Ps where The Four Ps represent Product, Promotion, Price, and Place. But are four Ps really enough anymore? In most cases, not really.

This marketing mix is an extension of the commonly used definition of marketing that describes marketing as “putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.” The idea of a specific mix of ingredients adequately describing marketing gained popularity in 1964 after Neil Borden published an article called “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.” The article discussed a broad variety of ingredients – product, branding, price, distribution, advertising, strategic thinking, promotions, sales, — and others as factors that played into marketing. Following this, E. Jerome McCarthy gathered this mix of ingredients into the four clusters commonly known today as the 4Ps, and we’ve been there ever since.

But can these four categories really fully encapsulate today’s marketing environment? Well, like everything else, it depends on a wide number of factors. But given the complex environments in which we are often forced to compete, today’s wise marketer will extend their thinking beyond the typical four to include additional parts of a complicated mix that can go a long way toward determining the level of success enjoyed with any marketing initiative.

With that in mind, let’s go beyond product, promotion, price, and place and take a look at the rest of the 20Ps:

PURPOSE – What business are we in? Do we understand precisely why we are in business, and what customer needs we are trying to satisfy?

PERSONA (or PROFILE, or PROSPECTS) – This is a snapshot of your ideal buyer put together from insights gleaned from research, data, and hypothesis. This snapshot would likely take into consideration things like age, gender, income, family, etc. Do we have this? Do we believe it? Do we understand it?

PARTNERS – Are there potential partners who could help us do a better job of meeting our goals?

PLAYERS – Against whom are we competing? At what levels? Do they occupy spaces we do not? Are there spaces they don’t occupy that we can/should own?

PURCHASE PATH – Is the path to purchase understood? Do we know what triggers the purchase intent or how the consumer establishes their consideration set? What about how they settle on trial? Do we understand the course of actions, or path, a potential buyer will travel as they move through our buying cycle?

PLANNING – Do we deeply understand what we are selling, to whom, and under what conditions? Can we write a strategic document that clearly and succinctly defines this? 

PROPOSITION – What is our unique promise? Is it, in fact, actually unique? What do we do better than the other guys?

PRESENTATION – Do we have a clear messaging platform? Why would anyone want to buy from us? Do we understand the primary benefit we offer to our target audience? Do we know the single most important thing we can say to them to convey that benefit? Can we clearly state that singular message in a compelling way?

POSITIONING – Do we know where we fit in a crowded marketplace? Are we a leader, or a challenger brand? Is there a clear place in the category for us to reside, or will we be battling it out with others just like us?

PACKAGING – Packaging isn’t just about the physical manifestation of a plastic bottle or a cardboard box. It’s how the brand looks and feels. It the environment in which we surround ourselves, both online and off. Packaging is all the things that work together to define how we are presented to the world.

PROCESS – What process and/or standards must we employ to make sure we accomplish what we need to accomplish?

PERSONALITY – Are we cutting edge or established and conservative? Are we friendly? Folksy? Reserved? Comforting? Whatever it is, the personality we want to convey must come through in language, positioning, design, color palette, and do so across every touch point.

PUBLICITY – Can we leverage publicity to better meet our goals?

PREFERENCE – What is the level of loyalty a buyer feels for our brand? Where do we fit in the preference of buyers? Are we an aspirational purchase or entry level? Where do we fit in the desired purchase pattern of our target?

PEOPLE – Who will actually deliver your product or service, and how will they impact your brand – positively or negatively – at every touch point along the way? Have we adequately trained them? Do they understand our messaging platform? Are we all speaking with the same voice?

PERFORMANCE – Finally, before we do anything, how – specifically – will we define success? What do we want to happen as a result of our marketing efforts? How will we define these results? How will we measure them?

So, there they are, the rest of the 20 Ps of marketing. You may not need all of them on every campaign, but chances are you’ll need more than the original four to compete in today’s marketing environment.

DAVID HADELER is brand strategist at LOOMIS, the country’s leading challenger brand advertising agency and a leading advertising agency in Dallas. For more about challenger branding, advertising and marketing, leadership, culture and other things that will drive your success, visit our blog BARK! The Voice of the Underdog and catch up on any of our more than 300 posts.

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