I know what you might be thinking. What is this dude on about, the 4Ps were invented in 1960, nothing from 1960 could be relevant today.
Some others may also be thinking: “That’s like well old and like so not new. It doesn’t like talk about participation or engagement, or engaging participation. There is like not even a mention of influencing the influencers on your Twitface, or mummy bloggers. Not to mention the lack of pivoting on your bootstraps in an agile lean start up”.
Let’s be honest people that work in marketing talk a lot of shite and seem to have a rather un-nerving penchant for bagging anything that is old and anything that they didn’t think of – the poor old 4 Ps of marketing is one of them.
But out of all the markting models and frameworks of yesteryear, the 4Ps is probably one of the only ones that has stood the test of time. In fact it has never been more important and has potentially really come of age. How you go about it has simply changed.
Now whilst I’m sure you know it, product, price, place and promotion, I doubt you really do it in its totality. Although I try, I certainly don’t. Half the problem is that organisations have marketing actually split across multiple departments meaning real innovation just can’t happen.
Over the last 30 years a few things have happened that has made life in marketing more complicated than it has to be.
The main culprit is the the emphasis on the promotional ‘P’. Promotion became the hero because it was cheaper, easier and more effective to do than the others. In essence promotion became known as marketing as that’s what most people were employed to do.
Still to this day most people that say they work in marketing (at least in agency land) have little influence on making transformative product changes, the place and way in which it’s sold, and the financial model that underpins it.
So essentially most people that say they work in marketing really only work in promotion – and that’s fine, because whilst it’s changing, it’s far from dead.
Unfortunately this has led to people saying stupid things like the 4Ps are dead, instead we need the 7 Es, the 4Es or the 7Cs. It’s just unhelpful and naive. It proves you look at the industry as an advertiser not a marketer. I don’t believe brands need as many of these people as they used to.
Then there are the product people, such as this guy on Fast Company, who believes it’s only about the product. Apparently you don’t need care about anything else.
For his benefit let’s start on promotion
Promotion isn’t and has never been just about ad campaigns, it’s just where most of the money has been spent in recent history.
In reference to the Fast Company article above, Google might have only recently created ad campaigns to grow further and protect share, but they still promoted it at launch. They didn’t just flick an Internet switch and it suddenly became the world’s largest search engine – they used other ways.
Neither did Facebook- it was promoted through Universities and their databases. Zara uses its high street stores, PR and word of mouth to promote its brand.
Promotion is alive and well. It’s how we define and do it that’s knackered.
I do however believe that making better products that people genuinely want and value is the best form of promotion at the moment.
There is more stuff in the world than we will ever really need. Most of which is crap or at best average, as companies continue to find ways to take costs out of the product.
People only have a certain amount of money to spend and they will only spend it products that are good.
Making better stuff is really, really important.
You can’t get away with backing a dog of a product with huge ad spend and genuinely expect it to work.
The Internet’s influence on where and how a product is sold has undoubtedly been the most disruptive change in industry, even more so than just advertising.
You only have to look at finance, retail, education, books and music to name a few industries that have innovated by redefining the place in which it’s sold – putting many brands out of business at the same time
It’s highly likely that the norm will be to no longer own our music in a few years. We will simply license it or stream it when we want it.
Will we have to spend thousands on University fees when I can learn it online for a fraction of the price?
Finding an innovative way to distribute your product has the potential to redefine your business model and your industry.
Developing innovative financial models that are more attractive to people again has been integral at disrupting industries.
The economies of scale and reduction in costs that online retailing provides is an obvious influence on price, but monthly subscription services to access music and even cars are just two more interesting examples.
Thinking about financial models as innovation isn’t a familiar concept, but it needs to be.
So if you think the 4 Ps are dead you probably don’t really work in marketing. Carry on with your participatory engagement thing that nobody really participates and engages with. Spend all your time and money creating a product that nobody finds or is willing to pay for.
Marketing and the 4Ps aren’t dead, you just don’y really have the imagination to make it better.