When 4 “P”s are not enough for good marketing – part 1

Amongst the numerous tools that every marketer should have in his or her toolbox, the famous “4Ps” are surely the most well known (with the BCG matrix probably).

If you don’t know what this refer to, well you probably don’t need to read this post. If you do I won’t insult you by explaining them in details.

Although this Product-Place-Promotion-Price quartet seems to cover most of the aspects of a traditional marketing mix, I found that in B2B high-tech markets this was too limited.

First let’s look at a few extensions already proposed:

  1. People
  2. Processes
  3. Physical Evidence
  4. Packaging
  5. Public Opinion
  6. Political Power

plus many other random ones, that could in most cases be folded into the initial 4Ps such as principle, purpose, perception….

My take on this is that although I understand the thinking behind these, I believe they are mostly subset of others or tactical/support issues. Not core marketing mix aspects especially in a B2B high-tech market.

The first 3 are more detail implementation level aspects of products and promotions for Service industries for instance:

1. People

This P is all about the various people in your organization that will interact with your customers. You want them to do the right things (to oversimplify my understanding of this). Duh! Of course! You also want the light to stay on, the email system to work, etc. This is not to me a mix element per se but a fall-out of the the overall strategy.

For instance, if you release a new product or service but your customer support does not know the products, or how to react to specific expectations (think of a “gold level” customer, say for a credit card or a hotel chain, not being aware of this new tier of customer or not treating them better than the average customer), this launch is poised to fail. But, this is more a “must-have” infrastructure adjustment, not a mix element per se.

2. Process

As per People, this is more about infrastructure than market mix per se. It’s about implementing the product promise the way it should be nothing more. It’s intrinsically part of the “product” “P”. Or it should be.

3. Physical Evidence

Once again this is to me more an extension of a product or service feature.

4. Packaging

This one is straight forward: Packaging is part of the “Product” or the “Promotion”, depending on what your do (default packaging or special one linked with a specific promotional activity). And in the B2B high-tech world, it’s really so minor that’s calling this out separately is not worth it. Especially when talking about products like industrial devices, software…

5. Public Opinion

Public opinion is nothing more that the result of our promotion overall tactics. Be it press relations, analyst, community, social networking (such as my new Twitter feed, LinkedIn, Viadeo, plaxo…)…

6. Political Power

I would agree that is some situations, lobbying with the governments, unions… could be a key element of success. However, although it’s good to keep this in mind, I would argue that, in most cases, this is not critical to a product launch.

The one big exception would be, in the B2B high-tech space, or in the high-tech space in general, the power or standardization bodies (such as the ones that built the various MPEG standards, OpenCable, GSM…). This could be a critical part of the mix in some cases… or completely irrelevant in other cases.

However, this is often very strategic, long term and involve much more investments that a traditional, regular, product launch. If this is not fixed by the product launch it is probably too late. One exceptions are products that could be “field upgraded” as needed, such as Wireless draft-n routers to final versions ones.

One can find more about those extra “Ps” on those sites:

In conclusion for now….

In the next blog post I’ll move to the 2 extrat “P”s that I believe, based on my experience, are often very important within a B2B High-tech environment: Partner and Project.

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