Rethinking the 4 P’s

Today there are multiple communications vehicles that satisfy people’s need to gather information.

You have to know where you have come from in order to know where you are going — an old adage but something worth considering in today’s business environment.

Consider for example how marketing and communications strategies have changed in just a few short years.

If you wanted to get your message into the minds of the consumer, traditional forms of media were all that was available. Today there are multiple communications vehicles that satisfy people’s need to gather information.

We’ve gone from mass media to targeted, more specialized niche communications tools that are designed to appeal to specific target audiences and many are available 24/7.

From a product standpoint we’ve gone from a manufacturer-dominated market to a retailer-driven market to what we are experiencing today which is more of a consumer controlled market.

This shift has caused some marketing and communications experts to rethink how they approach when it comes to selling products or services. They’ve gone from using the traditional 4 P’s to the 4 C’s.

Product has been replaced by consumer. With the changing times businesses are finding that it is no longer enough to sell what they make or have to offer but what the consumer wants to buy. It is coming up with the right product that has the characteristics to match what the consumer wants. This is all wrapped up in an overall buying experience that has become a key component of whatever is being sold.

Price has morphed into cost. But not just the cost of the product but also what it costs the consumer in terms of time, how far do they have to travel and looming on the horizon what does it cost from a social and ethical standpoint?

Place is becoming less relevant as the word convenience takes over. For many products and services, online shopping has become the norm. When you think of the old ‘being at the right place at the right time,’ consideration must be given today to these virtual locations and their ease of access, hours of operation and product or service availability.

The final P, promotion, has turned into communication. Getting the message out there requires a lot more energy than buying advertising. With the influx of specialty media, in particular social media, communication has become somewhat two-way in how it is presented and perceived in the minds of the consumer.

With these shifts in marketing philosophy and how and why people buy, it is becoming increasingly important for marketers to develop strategies that will be integrated with one another. This means that while the 4 P’s are still relevant, careful consideration must be given to the 4 C’s — consumer, cost, convenience, communication — and how they will work together to build stronger brand awareness and better relationships with your customers.

So no longer is it a simple matter of minding your P’s and answering the Q’s but taking care of the C’s so that in the end there is one C that will keep coming back for more … the customer.

Joe Smith is a communications consultant and an accomplished fine artist. He can be reached via email at joesmith@shaw.ca.

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