The 4 Ps of Marketing, the so-called Marketing Mix, has been around and followed loyally for almost 60 years, but can a principle that old really be applied to today’s rapidly changing marketing environment? Can such a ‘magic mix’ of Product, Placement, Price and Promotion, established a decade before we first landed on the Moon, be relevant in today’s world of super-connectivity, of always online consumerism and multiple device demands, of digital marketing as we know it today?
Well, yes, it can. There have been many reworked versions of this basic principle, ranging from the 7 Ps, 8 Ps, 4 Cs, another 4 Cs, and so on, but they are all really just expansions upon or variations of the original Marketing Mix. Despite the fact that some believe these original 4 Ps are no longer useful and need to be replaced with a new set of 4 Ps, such as in this blog here (which personally, I feel is stretching it a bit), the concept still holds true in that while marketing has changed in terms of how it is done, and the methods, machinery and means by which we do it, the principles behind it are still valid.
However, as this blog from business2community.com explains, we must understand how they can be applied to today’s digital marketing industry, which can be a little like the Gold Rush, so let’s take a closer look at each of these Ps and examine their part in modern processes and how they have evolved.
The days when a consumer realises they need a new product or service and heads to the local business to buy what they have on offer are gone. Today, people tend to go online to do their research about the options available to them, and are no longer limited to local business. They can go global, capable of finding the best product or service for them, from anywhere in the world.
As a result, the timeline from first realising a new product or service is needed (the pain point) to actually buying it has become much, much longer, as choice and information has increased dramatically, and businesses need to be able to not only get noticed among competitors, but consistently provide value and useful information about that pain point and its solution until the consumer is convinced yours is the best option.
It sounds obvious but the key to a successful product or service is in finding what the market needs, so when coming up with this new product or service, today’s businesses and agencies need to take into account the market. This means not just the buyer persona they want to appeal to, but also the buyer journey, where consumers are at present in their lives and where you want them to be, and how they can be brought along this path to become customers.
The fact that online consumers are willing to visit so many websites to find the best deal for them means that there is also so much more information about them as they leave their footprints behind in the form of cookies, click-throughs, downloads, etc. This enables a business to create a more detailed buyer persona and to focus on their ideal target market, what they need, how they like to be told about it, and what incentives they respond to, and this should influence the product plan.
On top of this, with a positive user experience so essential today as consumers are able to so swiftly change their loyalties, not to mention produce and have access to reviews that can have positive or negative effects, the customer experience needs to be flawlessly positive, from their first contact with your website or blog all the way to the after-sales service. So it’s not enough for your product to be great, the content the brand or business creates and the marketing strategy it undertakes also needs to be of a high quality.
This requires not only having the technology and systems in place to make this happen, but also the digital marketing strategies that ensure optimisation and user-friendly features. Hand in hand with this is the need to personalise, a big challenge when you may want to appeal to a large market of individuals, but one that needs to be met with tailored content at every step of the lead generation and conversion process. (Thankfully the platforms and systems around today – such as HubSpot’s COS) make this not just doable but practically automatic.
Finally on this point, while it may sound counterintuitive, the business should not focus solely on the product or service itself, but also on what the outcome of buying it will be and how it will benefit the customer. To take the example of a digital marketing agency, you should focus not just on the deliverables you can provide such as blog content and website optimisation, for example, but on what these will do for the client, ie, generate more leads and increase sales.
The amount of data available to us about target markets today means that a business can examine not only where their company, product or service should be directed, but also where the target market is, what modes of communication they use, how they go about using them in their online activity and social media engagement, and also what device they use.
For the business itself, placement has now really come to be seen as presence, as this enjoyable blog from bandt.com.au explains, and having an online presence that can be found by customers seeking the solutions you offer requires a combination of all of your digital elements working together, from website to blog to social media. It may come as bad news to some, but fooling Google is no longer a viable approach – updated algorithms seek relevance and authority, not merely lots of links and matching keywords – so gaining visibility online involves providing that relevant and useful information people will want to read.
Knowing how to send the right type of message across the right platform is now vital to digital marketing, and knowing how the audience is viewing it means creating content that works, looks good and is compelling across multiple devices. With the number of consumers using a smartphone as their first access point to the internet increasing year on year, mobile optimisation is absolutely necessary.
Contrary to previous incarnations of the marketing model, digital marketing needs to be non-intrusive, to be inbound, so that consumers come to you, rather than the other way around, so the place your product or service can be found online is very important, as is the optimisation of your content to make sure it ranks well in search engine results. You may have the best product or service in the world, but if nobody knows about it, your business won’t last.
You also need to constantly create useful content that highlights your business’s knowledge and experience, establishing you as the go-to option for consumers, otherwise you will fall foul of Google’s ever-changing algorithms and disappear from view.
This is where personalisation comes in, creating tailored content within a comprehensive online marketing strategy that includes web pages, blogs, social media and email to enable and encourage engagement with the right people at the right time.
By now we are all overly familiar with the many ways in which social media plays an integral role in a digital marketing strategy, not only pushing out and sharing content and offers across various platforms, but also engaging with the market to build relationships and position a product or service as a leader within its industry. In short, it helps you tell everybody about you, and invite consumers to find out more.
It would be great if a single piece of content encouraged a website visitor to dive straight in and buy from you, but that seldom, if ever, happens. Your content needs to cross-promote, to send the consumer down the conversion path from curious visitor to interested lead to customer and even advocate, and an email marketing campaign with an effective workflow that builds the offer value is one of the best ways to go, in my humble opinion.
This is still and always will be a key consideration in the marketing mix, but the path to success for digital marketers everywhere is to convey not just the cost in black and white figures, but the value inherent in what is on offer. The potential ROI that can be achieved, if talking about B2B marketing, is what needs to be brought into the equation.
For B2C, value is also important in making a business or brand stand out from competitors, and digital marketers need to emphasise and follow through on providing the ongoing value of choosing one brand over another, building relationships that delight customers long after the sale to encourage loyalty, advocacy and organic promotion via online reviews, citations and word of mouth (and this includes social media) recommendations.
With price, other factors need to be considered too, because they will play a part in the consumer’s decision to buy from you or a competitor. Customers will decide on their purchase based on not just price but delivery time and convenience, but the example we will look at is for all those B2B digital marketing agencies out there. Your pricing plan may cover all of the basics in terms of services offered, content and online marketing strategies delivered, etc, but the customer will also take into account how long it will take before a new system is up and running and giving return on investment. They will also want to know how long it will take to train up their own staff on the systems, platforms and strategies you are offering, and what support they can get from you in this regard.
Successful agencies will have the answers to these questions, and will factor the resources required into their pricing plan.
You can change the topic headings to make your own marketing mix, or expand to make as many Ps (or Cs or Qs or whatever), but those original four cooked up all those years ago still hold true. The industry has undoubtedly changed, as has consumer activity and the technology we use to engage with the market, but finding the ways to tailor your marketing model to these 4 Ps is still going to be the key to success.
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