Many of us undoubtedly recall the good old “4 Ps” of the marketing mix: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. These have been interpreted in different ways in the past. Is it now time to definitely retire them as a concept of the dark ages? Well, I would say it depends. A refreshed perspective, however, is certainly needed for each of them.
The product (or service for that matter) still is paramount. No marketing or sales effort can turn a poor product into a sustainable success. You may entice people into it once, but customers will learn your widget has a defect and re-purchase rates inevitably will plunge. Today, if your widget has more bugs than an anthill everyone will know instantly. Disappointed buyers will tell everyone via the countless online channels available. The blogosphere and twitter will explode with negative feedback and before you know it, no one will buy your widget and it affects your company’s reputation. So, product definitely still is important but now is measured by what people think and say about it.
Price always matters, we know that. Only today with the complete transparency provided by different channels, especially the internet, price is becoming more abstract.
When evaluating price consumers will ask:
- What is the value to me?
- Who do I want to buy from and why?
- Does that brand/company deserve my trust?
- Is the company that makes this product environmentally, socially or ethically responsible?
So price definitely matters measured in the context of who is behind the product and what people think and say about them.
There has been an explosion of channels for customers to find their product of choice. Most products and services are sold today in a multi-route-to-market mode, this includes direct, indirect and of course e-commerce. Ironically we marketers still believe we can precisely define which products are sold by what partner, through which route to market. We also expect those customers to follow our well defined and segmented path to our products.
Well, unfortunately that works less and less and the place where products are sold is not decided by the marketer anymore but by the people. Do you start to get my drift?
This takes me to the last of the 4Ps; promotion. In my opinion, promotion definitely is dead and should be retired forever. We need to replace it with “People.” People are the most important “P” in the marketing mix. People matter in everything we do as marketers and they are in control more than ever before. So as a marketer, people and what they think about us and what they communicate about us should be our absolute focus. Without people talking about our products we can no longer be successful, regardless of the size of our marketing budgets.