Marketing your company is as important as your routine business operations and requires just as much work.

To train budding entrepreneurs, experts developed the 4 Ps of marketing over half a century ago.

Can this producer-oriented framework still be valid, especially since modern business and marketing are more customer-centric than ever? (For example, twice as many companies now compete on customer experience than price or product.)

Review the fundamentals of the 4Ps of marketing and discover which elements still work today.

Key Takeaways:

  • The 4Ps of marketing is a decades-old strategy that includes product, price, promotion, and place.
  • The 4 Ps are only a jumping-off point for a marketing strategy.
  • Smart marketing focuses more on building a personality and community that attracts the right people.
  • Modern marketing requires measuring metrics that help you determine your return on investment.

The 4 Ps of Marketing and Their Modern Challenges

Marketing professor Jerome McCarthy defined a “marketing mix” in 1960 with the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. While still useful, we’ve found that these elements have new challenges.

1. Product

This one might seem to be a no-brainer; you have to start with something to sell. Still, a lot of companies forget that the presentation of the product in its packaging and design is a crucial part of marketing.

However, your focus should be not just on what you sell but on how that product solves a customer’s needs. More than ever, consumers purchase to solve problems. This practice applies doubly so to B2B selling.

Our clients find that a unique selling proposition is no longer enough. Your product should inspire the correct emotions in your preferred customer.

2. Price

In theory, price is the easiest of the 4 Ps of marketing to adjust but can be the hardest for a business to determine.

Setting a price still depends on your production costs and the value your customers get from the item. However, modern access to a greater variety of products means competing on price is a fool’s errand.

How you price and discount says something about your brand but becomes a nuanced science with constant economic fluctuations.

3. Place

Next in the 4 Ps of marketing is place (or distribution). In other words, where do you promote and sell your product?

Omnichannel sales and distribution have added another wrinkle to doing business, creating a need to seamlessly blend online and in-person commerce. In our experience, modern marketing has to match it.

4. Promotion

Promotion is the heart of the 4 Ps of marketing. This element answers the question: How will you persuade customers to buy your products?

The old-school thinking was, “Get seven touches to get viewers to act.” In contrast, the modern information landscape has a glut of soulless pitching, and valueless advertising turns into background noise.

As you determine your advertising methods and models, you promote yourself best by educating, informing, and entertaining your audience. Catchphrases and jingles just aren’t enough anymore.

The 4 Ps of marketing only involve product, price, place, and promotion but modern marketing involves more.

Image Source: Expert Program Management

The Lowdown on the 4 Ps of Marketing

The 4 Ps of marketing wrap your marketing model in a tidy package with a pretty little bow. The system is easy to understand and looks nice on a PowerPoint or business plan.

The benefits are you get a clear picture of what your product offers and can start to see how it aligns with customer wants and needs. The drawbacks are that the model is too internal, focusing on who you are and what you do.

We’ve discovered that modern marketing is more about matching the needs and personality of the consumer or purchaser. You’ll find many new updated marketing mixes to address this, such as the 7 Ps, the 4 Cs, and the S.A.V.E. system.

While the 4 Ps of marketing are a convenient back-of-the-napkin sketch, they’re not a full strategy or way to run a campaign. In other words, the 4 Ps can be “part of a complete breakfast” but not the whole meal.

So, what should you do if you’re stuck on the 4 Ps framework?

More Ps for Your Marketing Mix

We’ve previously identified another 14 Ps that are essential to a modern marketing strategy. Here’s a deeper dive into some of those we’ve seen work time and again for our clients to create effective campaigns.

Purpose and People

If you’re only about making money, you’ve lost before you even started. Enduring brands have an underlying purpose, passion, motivation, and mission that drives their teams to get out of bed in the morning and make a difference by solving problems.

With a clear purpose, you know who you are and the kind of people that you want to attract. (This helps you to avoid creating or attracting buyer personas that suck.)

Now, you’re ready to market to the right crowd in the right way, much better than the 4 Ps of marketing can do alone.

Personality and Point of View

Fitting right in with purpose, you need a personality that attracts your kind of people. For example, did you know that Hydrox cookies launched before Nabisco Oreos? Still, Oreo became the dominant brand. Why?

While Hydrox kept focusing on its purity and earlier arrival in the market, Oreo started kicking butt and taking names by talking about how fun and delicious its cookies were. Nabisco was even able to increase the price and still outpace the competition.

Oreo won its snack showdown in a smackdown with a personality that pushed it beyond the 4 Ps of marketing.

Image Source: Antenna TV

What’s the lesson? Decide your personality and point of view to market effectively. It’s not just smart marketing; now, it’s essential.

Platforms and Pictures

These two are another refinement of the old strategy. Neil Patel makes a great point when talking about the 4 Ps of marketing by showing that simply going after social media is not enough.

With each new social media platform, too many businesses jump on the bandwagon to post ads and videos because they don’t want to be last to the party. However, you must first ask: Is my target market even using this medium?

Do your research to discover where your people are and meet them there.

Also, it’s never been more important to be visual and interactive. Whichever platforms you adopt, add educational and effective videos and graphics to intrigue your audience.

Visual elements make content more effective, excelling beyond the 4 Ps of marketing.

Image Source: Finances Online 

Performance and Process

These two new Ps address the biggest problem with the traditional 4 Ps of marketing: determining how well your campaigns are doing. Without proper metrics, you’ll never know what works.

You can’t just get excited over a successful sales cycle or mope over a failed campaign. Find out why you got the results you did and repeat or pivot.

Here, we always work with clients to show them what’s working and why it works for repeatable results. What’s been the outcome? We drive millions of monthly hits.

How To Excel Beyond the 4 Ps of Marketing

While the 4 Ps aren’t technically dead, they’re only the tip of the iceberg for marketing effectively. Cutting through the noise is harder than ever, and you need every advantage you can grasp.

Get help to excel beyond the 4 Ps of marketing by contacting our team at Marketing Insider Group. We’ll help you create a winning marketing strategy that outdoes your competitors.


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