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The Four Ps of Marketing: Do They Still Apply in Today’s Landscape?

January 8th, 2020   ||    by Oriana Schwindt

The TV advertising landscape has changed quite a bit since the specific concept of “the four Ps of marketing” was introduced by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960, as detailed by Disruptive Advertising. Product, price, place, and promotion were the order of the day.

Although McCarthy’s framework was later displaced by the four Cs—a customer-focused approach—the four Ps of marketing do have a surprising amount of applicability in the era of the connected TV. Here’s a refresher on what they are and how they can help you hone your messaging.

Product

Yes, this is pretty basic, but what are you offering your customers? Our lives are full of intangible offerings from companies these days, including “solutions,” apps, and services. These are things your customer can’t touch and which may be difficult to explain in plain terms.

However, it’s crucial that you find a way to clearly demonstrate what your service or solution is to customers. If you can’t explain to them in plain language what you are doing for them, you may want to rethink your product strategy.

Price

What are you charging for your product? Is your price undercutting your message of a quality product? When you’re advertising, is this information your customer needs or wants to know up front?

Some segments of the population are more price-sensitive than others. This wisdom applies to all businesses, whether you’re selling to consumers or businesses.

But with the looming specter of another recession on the horizon, what should you do about your pricing?

No less an esteemed publication than the Harvard Business Review suggested that discounting during a recession is actually counterproductive.

For example, for businesses that sell primarily to other businesses, years-long contracts signed at a discount rate can be quite favorable to the buyer at a great long-term expense to the seller.

Place

Traditionally, “place” referred to a physical location. The popularity of e-commerce and the increasing number of businesses offering “software-as-a-service” make the idea of “place” a little different, but it’s no less important.

If your business relies primarily on e-commerce, where is that commerce occurring? Desktop or mobile? Mobile e-commerce will account for 53.9 percent of e-commerce by 2021, according to Statista.

Your marketing strategy also needs to carefully consider “place”—namely, where your promotion will appear. Which brings us to our final P.

Promotion

If you’ve done your work on the previous Ps, the final one should be pretty straightforward. You should know exactly who your customer is, what they want to hear, and where you’re trying to get them to go.

“Straightforward” is a relative term these days, however.

Promotion in McCarthy’s time was limited to outdoor billboards, print, radio, and three television networks. In 2019, there are infinite ways to reach potential consumers. Even if you only consider the number of ad-supported television networks, dozens upon dozens of cable TV and over-the-top streaming networks have sprouted up in the last couple decades.

Then there’s digital. We’ve talked before about the benefits of omnichannel campaigns. A healthy mix of TV and digital has proven essential for marketing, with a 60 percent improvement in outcomes for campaigns that involve both TV and digital advertising, according to research cited in an IAB Europe report.

They may have been around for six decades, but the four Ps of marketing can still get you where you need to go.

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