The 4 P’s of Marketing You Should Ignore

Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Marketing 101 is familiar with the 4 P’s of Mixed Marketing.  Marketing decisions being made using a recipe was posited by James Culliton in 1948.  ‘Marketing-Mix’ was coined by Neil Borton in 1953.  Move ahead to 1960 where E Jerome McCarthy first proposes the 4 P classification system and it later finds its current mainstream acceptance in Philip Kotler’s Principles of Marketing in 1967.

Considered the traditional elements of marketing the 4 Ps are:

  • Product –  Goods or services.
  • Price-  What the customer pays for your product.
  • Placement – The distribution channel for the product
  • Promotion –  All Communications such as advertising with the customer

Collectively these ingredients represent a company centric worldview where the company establishes the terms upon which the client is acted on.   This was establishment thinking at a time when products were mass produced, prices set on profitability,  distribution limited to one way channels, and clients targeted by one way promotions.   Promoting products required having mass appeal and often grabbed people’s attention in ways that were disruptive.  People were interrupted from programs on television with commercials. They listened to commercials on the radio because that was the only place to go for new music.

Its been estimated that there are 162 million web sites and 1.4 billion users on the web and this has fundamentally shifted the marketplace.  Along with the changing times have come changing attitudes.  Mixing ingredients and spoon feeding your clients with whatever you are selling is no longer a realistic approach to marketing. People receive information at a dizzying pace these days.  Technology has allowed the spread of ideas to flow to audiences faster than can be assimilated.  People have competing messages coming from all directions whether they come from blogs, user reviews, commenting, and forums.   They also have more options for tuning you out.  DVR,  On Demand, Podcasts, YouTube, and downloads are ways for people to tune in to what they want when they want it.

In order to compete with all these options marketers must win over the hearts and minds of their clients.  A client oriented culture is necessary in order to reach today’s audiences.  A new model of marketing that focuses on interactivity, building relationships, and keeping clients actively engaged is emerging as marketing’s new forward thinking. This new thinking acknowledges that audiences are more resistant to marketing speak and tend to be less impressionable to traditional forms of advertising.   In order to keep audience’s interest marketers must respond with more interactive forms of communication.

Newspapers are currently facing a yearly profit loss with a decline in circulation and an accompanying decline in dollars from advertising.  The Chicago Tribune recently declared bankruptcy and the economic picture for the New York Times is looking bleak.  Its been reported that they have a $400 million debt payment due in five months and a negative current net worth.

Yet it isn’t as if people have suddenly quit following the news.  Thanks to YouTube,  rssfeeds, and the popularity of blogs people have more options when it comes to where they want to get their news from.   Traditional media has been forced to adapt as a result.  Their focus has shifted toward giving people what they want and when they want it.  Streaming video, slide shows, rssfeeds, forums, and blogs are now standards on mainstream news sites.   This approach has lessened the bleeding.    Even as their newspapers continue to decrease in circulation The New York Times has emerged as one of the top ranked web sites.   The online domain nytimes.com attracts 180 million site visitors annually. The challenge now for newspapers is in inventing a model around this that can draw in more revenue.  Revenues from online advertising has given newspapers some hope but this still hasn’t been able to replace the profits they lost from print advertising.

Marketing is currently an evolving field in which the old rules no longer apply and fresh thinking is currently in demand.  Moving forward requires getting people’s attention by giving them what they want and when they want it.

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  • Anonymous

    While the title of this post is “The 4 P’s of Marketing You Should Ignore”, I only see one of the P’s addressed: promotion. And while it is certainly true that the marketplace has changed and consumers no longer think the way they used to fifty years ago, it is not so true that you should not guide yourself by these four elements.

    The first element is actually crucial, and stating it should be ignored is truly dumb. You can’t even *think* of RSS feeds, YouTube videos or email newsletters without first knowing what is it exactly that you’re selling to your customers. Sure – you’ll need to know what consumers are looking for, because no one will buy something that is absolutely no good to them. But that’s not something new, and business theory already includes customer-oriented in contrast with product-oriented approaches.

    The second is the product’s price. It doesn’t have to be the exact same for every customer, but you should have a price policy so as to define who you’ll be selling to and what customers will see when they give the first look at your product through its price tag.

    Thirdly, placement. This is perhaps the element that has changed the most, mainly because of Internet sales. You can now sell to your customers worldwide through the Internet, or you can license that sale to retailers who then sell it online. Either way, placement did become a bit less important.

    And last, but not least, promotion. You are absolutely right when you say that consumers don’t look at advertising the way they used to, and that TV ads aren’t as appealing as they were. But this P has also adjusted itself: today you hear about viral campaigns, mouth-to-mouth promotion, etc. All of which are concepts adjusted to the new reality.

    Don’t get me wrong – I do think most of what you said was important and certainly relevant, but stating one should now ignore the 4 P’s as guidelines to good business isn’t something I can agree with.

    Keep up the good work with this blog – I’m enjoying reading it!

  • Thanks for the feedback! You brought up several good points.