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Reinventing Marketing – Goodbye to the 4Ps

– By Andy Hanselman

Every marketing professional will be familiar with the concept of the ‘marketing mix’, a recipe that was long made up of the 4 Ps – Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. Some have taken to expanding this to seven or even eight Ps, while others have dropped the Ps entirely and embraced the 4 Cs instead.

4-pWhat this all goes to show is that the world is changing. Customer choice, connectivity, competition, change (hey – that’s 4Cs!), information overload and greater market transparency all means that the customer now has much more control than ever before. It also means that those original 4 Ps are past it, ‘kaPut’ , passé and pointless.

So in the spirit of the age, I offer you an alternative set of P’s for the age of connectivity, control and convenience. 

1. Permission
As consumers, we’re constantly bombarded with advertising messages. One estimate I came across the other day suggests we are exposed to 1500 a day! So it’s not surprising that many of these are irrelevant or irritating.

That’s why blindly mass-marketing to huge databases or frantically (and randomly) exchanging as many business cards as possible at networking meetings is completely counter-productive for both sides. Why waste time and energy in follow-up calls when the target has not been properly researched in the first place? Incorrectly  targeted messages result in people putting up barriers to stop these getting through, be it skipping ads on TV, blocking spam and junk email or going ex-directory.

There is a sliding scale when it comes to direct marketing and this will always involve a speculative element. So make sure that you reduce the waste and save as much time and energy as possible by researching your targets in the first place, focusing on customers who have an interest in what you have to say –  and don’t overdo those follow-up calls!

Target and build relationships with people who are likely to WANT to do business with you and are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. The first rule of the game today is that people choose to engage when it suits them. Remember that before firing off those ‘random’ speculative marketing emails.  

2. Participation
Today’s customers want dialogue, not diatribes. Three quarters of people don’t believe companies tell the truth in advertisements. That’s why the most successful businesses prefer to have conversations with their customers and prospects. When was the last time you actually engaged in a conversation with your customers?

Build feedback mechanisms into your business, get customers to give you their opinions and ideas, test things out with them, set up networks, user groups and forums. Break down the barriers and make it easy to have two way conversations in ways that suit them, not just you.

In other words, give your customers a ‘damn good listening to’.

3. Performance
The real competitive battle-ground today is around customer experience. Just being ‘good enough’ isn’t going to cut it. Performing well in this arena means creating remarkable customer experiences – that’s ‘remarkable’ as in worth remarking about. And it means doing this consistently while continually seeking ways of doing it better.

What are the key elements that make up your company’s performance? It could be your products, your pricing, your service, anything in fact that gives you the edge. It’s vital that it’s the stuff that your customers say is important.

Consistency in performance develops trust, and trust creates a bond. This means improved customer retention and loyalty, but it also turns customers into ambassadors, delivering referrals and recommendations. How does your performance build trust with your customers?

Winning businesses think in 3D – they are Dramatically and Demonstrably Different. In this world of endless choice, being the ‘same as’ gets you nowhere. So ask yourself, what does your business do to demonstrate your ‘Dramatic Difference’? Do you actually have one?

4. Proliferation
Good news travels fast – almost as fast as bad news.  When people start talking about what you do it means your message is proliferating.  Mobile phones, email, websites and social media are making word of mouth even more important in reaching customers and potential customers than it used to be. More than nine out of 10 people say that word of mouth is one of the most reliable sources of information, up from half in 1977. Think about your own recent purchasing decisions – how many of those were influenced by peers, friends or colleagues?

So today’s successful marketeers need strategies for maximising proliferation – not through marketing hype, but through their energy and participation, by becoming part of the community, by standing out from the crowd, and creating that buzz – a lot of it comes back to that ‘Demonstrable Dramatic Difference’!

So how do you measure up? When it comes to marketing, are you stuck in the old world or embracing the new?


Andy HanselmanAndy Hanselman is a business competitiveness specialist who helps leaders creative competitive advantage, maximise customer relationships and improve customer care. Recognised by Enterprise Magazine as a Future Top 100 Entrepreneur, he has almost 20 years experience working with, and learning from directors, partners and senior managers of literally thousands of forward-thinking businesses.


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