The Four P’s are Dead — Long Live the Six C’s

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When I tell marketing mavens this, the first thing traditional (and even occasionally forward-thinking) ones say is, “That’s ridiculous! Price, product, place and promotion are the pillars on which marketing rests, and they will always be.” The irony is that I’m using the expression metaphorically, not literally.

The 4 P’s really are no longer the pillars for the marketing model that needs to be executed in a world that has highly empowered customers running the ecosystem. Let’s look at reality. Companies such as Proctor & Gamble did, and it is pulling its money out of traditional advertising.

Instead, the company is investing and engaging in viral marketing campaigns — as with many others companies such as American Express, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Unilever, Proctor & Gamble is recognizing that because Web accessibility significantly speeds up distribution, there is much more value in word-of-mouth marketing.

In a 2007 study of simultaneous media usage by BIGResearch, 42.6 percent of the respondents said word-of-mouth marketing was the most influential media source. A viral marketing campaign not only recognizes that fact but takes advantage of it by engaging the potential customers in “spreading the virus.”

Those same market leaders are recognizing what was presented in “The Cluetrain Manifesto”: Markets are now conversations and, accordingly, marketing is the front line for the conversation with the customer. Marketing is no longer simply stamping the brand with a hot iron into the skin of a distrustful customer.

That concept changes the landscape. Rather than the holy relic of consistency maintained by the four P’s, the new hallmarks are authenticity, trust and transparency.

Although the four P’s are still necessary, they are no longer the foundation. Rather, they are now relegated to being the operational components of a marketing model that engages the customer in a conversation and starts them down the road to collaboration.

Keep in mind the power of what exists. There is a generation that knows no age boundary, one that is conversational, connected, creative, collaborative, content-driven and contextual (meaning it is looking for answers in the context in which it works, which is highly individualized).

These, thus, are the six C’s. This generation of customers also knows that its access to the content is immediate and peer-driven. That means, for businesses to succeed with these organically connected customers, they always have to monitor the conversations and participate in them.

Here are two examples:

The New Marketing Black Magic
There is one unknown human being who hates Sony’s PlayStation 3. As a result of that disgust, he did a brilliant video that shows (as he puts it) how Sony “killed its brand “because of the failed promises, the high price and the lack of features by comparison to other game consoles like the Wii and the Xbox360.”

This video was put up on YouTube on March 3. As of April 11, it has had nearly 1.2 million views.

Think about it. This is viral marketing in the negative — but it also proves the case. This was just some guy who didn’t like the PlayStation 3, and now 1.2 million so far have heard this message.

Also, this video will be there. It doesn’t come down after the “money invested in the ad” runs the contract’s course — there was no money invested in the ad placement, no contract, no course to run.

The New Marketing White Magic
For the companies that are willing to relegate the four P’s to where they have to go — the operational side of the business — the benefits of the new marketing model prototypes are becoming apparent.

Proctor & Gamble launched Secret Sparkle body spray products in February 2005. These were body sprays that were aimed at a teenage girl market.

To begin to get both brand recognition and capture market share, Proctor & Gamble decided to put aside the traditional marketing campaigns it used for many of its 300 brands. Instead of advertising in teen-oriented publications or on teen-focused TV shows, the company launched a Web site with multiple blogs, podcasts, interactive tools, contests etc., to keep the teens engaged.

The results included 12,000 visitors per week, 25 minutes per visitor per visit and 0.8% of the $10.4 billion antiperspirant/deodorant market by July 2005. That would be $83 million in five months from launch, without a dollar spent in traditional advertising. Anyone for the six C’s?

Paul Greenberg is co-chairman Rutgers CRM Research Center. He can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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