Anyone who has ever sat through a marketing class of any type has heard about the “marketing mix.” Introduced in the 1960s by E. Jerome McCarthy, this mix included the so-called “Four P’s” of Product, Price, Promotion and Place. In McCarthy’s estimation, these four components were key in how buyers perceived a product, ultimately basing their decisions on their cumulative feelings about them. Later on, marketing professionals began adding a fifth P: People. Anyone who has dealt with a bad waiter knows how important this part of the equation is.
Trading P’s For C’s
In 1993, author Robert F. Lauterborn suggested that we should change the P’s to C’s in order to keep our thinking more current with the evolution of consumer thinking. His “Four C’s” look like this: Customer Value, Convenience, Cost and Communication. When you look at them side by side, these aren’t a lot different than the P’s mentioned above. And just as they did with the Four P’s, marketing professionals sometimes add another C: Culture. This can be defined as the culture in which the product is used, but also perhaps, as the culture inside your company itself. This makes it somewhat similar to People, and it can be very important. Do consumers really, truly like your “brand” and all of the people and things that it is made of?
Four Out Of Five IS Bad
The question is: Should you evaluate your company and brand on the Five P’s or the Five C’s? If you get caught up trying to decide, then you have completely missed the point. It isn’t the letters that are most important. It’s the numbers. In other words, if you only succeed in making a good impression in four of the five categories, then you have more work to do. Your marketing (Promotion / Communication) is only as good as the things you sell and the benefits that those things offer (Product / Customer Value).
We have a saying here at Anchor: “Nothing kills a bad product faster than good marketing.” Translation: if you have a big sale and attract a million people to sample your inferior product, you will be doomed quickly by word-of-mouth connections alone. Look no further than pets.com and their ubiquitous hand puppet for a real-world example. Everything that makes up your brand, from your physical buildings and online store (Place / Convenience) to staff (People / Culture) to pricing (Price / Cost), needs to work together to fulfill the brand promise that marketing is putting forth. None of these elements can succeed on their own, and they will most certainly fail without the others.
Putting It All Together
How can you tell if your Five P’s or Five C’s are working together? For companies that do it particularly well, it means that they can establish strong sales volumes even when their prices are above their competition. Why do people pay more for a product from Mercedes or Apple? Because their marketing describes a brand promise of quality that is true and company-wide – every P, every C is looked after with meticulous detail – and that makes their products worth more.
Here at Anchor, our job is to tell the world about your company, your products and your brand promise (often at the same time). Depending on which letter you go by, that’s either Promotions or Communications. That’s one letter out of five. While we do our best to help with them, the other P’s and C’s are mostly out of our control.
Doesn’t that make it hard to evaluate marketing’s success on its own? Yes. And it shouldn’t just be hard, it should be impossible. Because marketing isn’t a department – it’s integrated into everything a company does, and cannot succeed or fail on its own. It’s only as effective as the other four P’s or C’s that it works in conjunction with. Just as marketing can never take full credit for success (nobody would buy Nike shoes twice if they were lousy shoes), neither can marketing take all the blame. Whether you use P’s or C’s, the effect on sales is cumulative. The more you get right, the higher the octane in your business’s tank – and the higher your company’s sales will perform. How many of the P’s or C’s are you doing right? There’s only one correct answer, and that’s five. Anything less and you need to make some adjustments. Want to know more? Contact us here at Anchor, and let’s work through your marketing mix together.