Many are familiar with the standard 4 P’s of marketing as they’ve been taught in business classes and schools for decades. These are considered to be the pillars of a strong marketing program. E. Jerome McCarthy was the first person to suggest the four P’s of marketing which constitute the most common variables used in constructing a marketing mix.
In my 30+ year career I’ve noticed a lot of people, even within industries that should know, often mistake marketing as being a mix of things like advertising, promotions, personal selling, events and publicity. The reality is the marketing mix is much more complex and the most familiar elements are just a small part of just one “P.”
Just for a quick review, the 4 P’s are:
Product – Attributes of an organization or offering within this segment include delivery system design, technology, quality, services provided and their availability.
Price – This silo of the marketing mix includes costs to users/supporters, payment periods, arrangements and terms. Note: Some have also argued “costs” are more than dollars … a full cost analysis should include emotional (for those seeking greater purpose, advancements, victory), sacrificial (for people giving time, energy, focus) and relational (what does one’s association with an organization do for their relationships … will people think more or less of them).
Place – An often-overlooked part of the marketing mix, this “P” covers strategy and executional elements surrounding service distribution channels, coverage, locations, logistics and e-services.
Promotion – Likely the most known aspect of the marketing mix, this piece considers strategies and tactics related to advertising, logo/identity and promotions. But it also covers development/fundraising, communications, events and public relations as they are all tools to be considered and deployed as part of the greater marketing and branding strategy.
Since the introduction of the 4 P’s, I’ve heard of many different proposed additions to the marketing mix. Some have argued that “People” or “Process” should be separate elements. Reality is, there’s nothing in marketing that doesn’t require a human element and any process is likely an extension or strategy or tactic of one the existing 4 P’s.
As such, the 4 P’s have endured for 60+ years as the key commandments of building a solid marketing plan.
Knowing that, after many years of very careful consideration, I am now humbly suggesting that two new “P’s” be added to marketing mix for organizations who want to do more good (which also includes corporations and businesses with a bent toward social responsibility and making an impact).
Those two new P’s are:
Long gone are the days of three TV networks and a few daily newspapers to drive awareness, discussion, commerce and contributions. These things are so far in the rearview mirror of communications history there are likely a few people reading this post now who have no idea what the last sentence even means.
What it means is that media and how we communicate with each other is no longer simply about “mass” forms of communications. While you still can’t underestimate the power of television (which is being consumed at its highest levels ever) and even digital newspapers like The New York Times, new media isn’t new anymore. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are as adopted, utilized and as ingrained in our culture as any traditional media channels from our past.
This also means that bullhorn types of media and marketing approaches focused on one-way communications are also less accepted, influential and impactful. Today’s media and communication demands a conversation. This has also caused people to desire more interactivity … not just with words and through digital channels, but with physical presence and action.
While this was true prior to COVID-19, personal participation will become even more desired because of it. People don’t just want to give their money anymore to a cause, they want to be associated with and connected to it.
Social media intertwined with social distancing has and will heighten the trend for engagement and involvement. And organizations need to understand that their brand isn’t just owned by them, it is owned by everyone who associates with it. Today, personal brands are important, and people’s associations and support define who they are more than ever.
All to say, organizations today need to see themselves as a media outlet, being a constantly transmitting voice for a cause. And they need to see their audiences as journalists and content contributors to your media channels. Which means organizational communications and marketing need to have opportunities for your audiences to express themselves and how they feel about your brand. Sometimes that’s with words or investigating efforts and events for themselves. Sometimes that’s connecting and networking with you and others who are like-minded.
The need for participation, connection, and engagement has been escalating for years. COVID-19 has made these things even less of a commodity and an increasingly coveted branding attribute and marketing necessity.
While this seems fairly obvious that a well-defined, focused and emotive purpose is not only important, it has become extremely desired. For those who come in contact with any idea, group, service or offering today – donors, volunteers, staff and those whom you serve – everyone wants to be associated with organizations that have a clear and compelling purpose.
With so many good choices today and so much noise in the marketplace tugging at people’s discretionary time, money, attention and resources … organizations with a true, meaningful and purpose-powered point of difference stand out.
I’ve often heard that a brand (note: making an organization a memorable and sustainable brand is the ultimate purpose of marketing) is more than a logo, location, offering or campaign … it’s about the perceptions you own and the promises you make and keep.
All to say, I believe “Purpose” is the most powerful element of any marketing mix as it can and should be the driver of every other aspect (and “P”).
Get started by downloading my Three Step Value Proposition Guide.
Bill McKendry | Founder + Board President
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