The Five Ps of Marketing

When I was in college, Intro to Marketing was taught from the marketing bible, Principles of Marketing, written by "the father of marketing", Dr. Philip Kotler. According to Dr. Kotler, the marketing mix was composed of the four Ps, a classification proposed in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy. As 40 years worth of marketing students can tell you, the four Ps are:
  • Price
  • Product
  • Place
  • Promotion

    Dr. Kotler has released the 13th edition of Principles of Marketing (I know I'm dating myself, but my copy is the 7th edition), and we can see how quickly marketing is evolving to keep pace with changing customer expectations and new technologies emerging to both fuel and fulfill those expectations.

    In recent years there has been discussion of adding a fifth P, and I've seen a multitude of possibilities proposed, including: Participation, Process, Physical Evidence, Passion, Post-Purchase Service and Perception. I don't see how the fifth P could be anything but People, and I'm surprised it has taken as long as it has to surface as a potential component of the marketing mix.  (There are some who would increase the number of marketing mix components to seven, but I'm not convinced it's needed.)

    The birth, adoption and rapid growth of social networking has increased the relevance of People in the marketing mix significantly. I see that playing out in two ways:
    1. People have always been the face and representation of your brand;service reps, sales people, clerks, waiters/waitresses, consultants, instructors, baristas, call center reps anyone with whom your customer has contact. And now, thanks to social networking, there is the expectation that to be credible, marketers can no longer hide behind impersonal mass media advertising, direct mail or email, but need to publicly self-identify as subject matter experts via blogs, web pages, social media pages, emails, Twitter, and videos to communicate personally with their current and potential customers. Customers are overwhelmed with and and ignoring advertising and traditional one-size-fits-all messages that bounce off into the ether unnoticed. In today's global and flat world where social networking connects us all, customers want to know who is behind the curtain, writing and sending those messages.
    2. Customer testimonials have always been the most effective selling tool available and that hasn't changed. Social networking has elevated the importance of your customers talking to each other —  sharing opinions, recommendations, and experiences. As a marketer, you need to use your social networking tools to build communities of connected, communicating and satisfied customers. It's critical that you respond very quickly and publicly to complaints or issues to show that you are listening, responding, and resolving.
    As you build you marketing plans for next year, remember to include your customers and yourself as the 5th P of the marketing mix. Your competitors won't forget.


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