4ps

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The 4 Ps of marketing have always been sacrosanct. If you don’t take care of the Product, Price, Place and Promotion, you aren’t paying attention to the total marketing mix. You can certainly be successful without attending to all 4, but it won’t sustain. For the last 10 years I’ve had this gnawing feeling that the web has altered the 4Ps, but haven’t been able to put my finger on in. I’ve written how the web has collapsed the steps to a sale (awareness, interest, desire and action) into a single one-experience process — certainly a big change — but has it really changed the 4 Ps?

I was reading a Slideshare by Translation’s John Greene today on disruption in the music business and landed on a point about “transaction”…which gave me pause. Readers who know my “Twitch Point Planning” thesis, know twitches used properly, can lead to or be transactions. Communications planners know the value of the transaction. Is it possible that transaction can replace the Place P? Place being the channel, e.g., the retail store, mail order, ecomm website, mobile device? Or should transaction be added to the 4Ps?

As technology plays with place and pricing and makes purchases as convenient as a swipe, scan or click, the transaction may trump all other Ps. Are we as brand planners and comms planners thinking enough about the transaction? Thoughts me droogies?

Peace!

 

 

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Car sales were reported yesterday and they were quite good.  Year over year for the month of September there was a 13% increase.  The New York Times lead story in the business section announced “the best results in 4 years.”  I’ve been blogging about the automobile industry since the beginning of What’s the Idea? mostly because I’ve been so angered by what’s been happening.

People need cars.  People need money. People need to be more responsible to the planet.  These observations drive my points of view.

I have a suggestion for the auto industry, especially GM and Ford the two companies that performed most poorly. Spin off your truck divisions. Divest completely. They need their own leaders, R&D (design with a capital D), manufacturing and marketing. Most times when there is a divestiture it’s government encouraged.  But time it should be market driven.

My second suggestion relates to advertising. Volkswagen, Kia and Audi are doing good work. The brands themselves are strong enough (4Ps-wise) to allow for advertising to work. The marketing officers and executive teams of these companies are on board with investing and pushing ad boundaries. Using good ad shops. (So is Chrysler.)

During the bail-out meetings a couple of years ago, in the picture of with Ford and GM executives sitting around the table with president Obama, had not a smart phone was to be seen. The Q-Tips were running the show (insider car target reference).  We need to drop the leash here too. Peace.

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As the economy moves away from manufacturing toward service, which it has been doing for 25 years now, the number of people who are actually making things decreases. Desks across America are filled with people whose jobs it is to make decisions and manage others. Sure, iPhones are being manufactured, and cars are being constructed. Sure, food is being processed, packaged, sold and served.  But the number of companies doing it has decreased and the scale of those companies hugely expanded. It won’t be long before Wal-Mart has a house brand that takes over the world.

All these people at desks, tasked with making decisions along the chain of command and trying to add value, can create a leadership nightmare.  Add to that the web offering up the ability for people to collapse the 4Ps into a single P (platform) and one can see why brands are becoming more and more important.  Branding is an organizing principle for marketing.

The best brands are culture. The best brands lead companies. Strong brands show the way.  And align the desks.  If you have a strong brand get to know it.  Peace!   

 

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Look, I’m no genius.  When I predict things like the trivestiture of Google (gonna happen) or that Best Buy will suffer at the hands of its current CMO  — predicted at the pinnacle of his celebrity – it was just simple brand and marketing logic. Larry Downes’ article in Forbes, on the other hand, is a little bit of a genius. Entitled “Why Best Buy is going out of business…gradually” it is beautifully organized, a story well-told, and emotionally charged. It’s hard to read it without being convinced.  (That said, I don’t agree Best Buy is going down, but the case is compelling.)

What I found striking in Mr. Downes’ article was a not-so-new Web phenomenon that occurred after Thanksgiving when Best Buy could not fulfill some online orders. A situation. Here’s the missive they sent to customers:  

 “Due to overwhelming demand of hot product offerings on BestBuy.com during the November and December time period, we have encountered a situation that has affected redemption of some of our customers’ online orders.”

I was at a start-up not too long ago with some under-cooked technology that fried the night of Beta release.  We were a media darling at the time. The response of our CTO was “Due to extraordinary demand, the servers went down and…”  Turning negatives in to positives might have worked in 2007 but not in 2011.

No doubt ecommerce has reshuffled the 4Ps. Some might argue Ps have been removed. Others might suggest Ps have been added. I’m sticking with 4. Get them all right — you will still encounter situations but you’ll be prepared to deal. Peace!

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Chrysler paid back over $7B in loans to the U.S. government yesterday.  Did they just have than money laying around?  That s lot of Benjamins.  Did they just borrow if from a sheik?  No they earned it. Blocking and tackling my friends.  Rekindling old loyalties me droogies.  Fixing the product, getting the right new people in place and fixing the message. When Daimler moved into the Chrysler brand, they tried to do all these things but couldn’t.  Fiat and the U.S. marketing stewards did.  And now they have da monies.

Good blocking and tackling.  Just like Ford did.  I knew the Fiat move would be a good one…meep meep.  The company is known for stylish small cars, just what the economy ordered. But Chrysler is also making a move with Dodge, which is a bit more of a surprise. Hemis and un-mommy mini vans and a return of the muscle car for real motor heads (Can you say Challenger?).  This is Dodge’s sweet spot.

Marketers are not talking about Chrysler in terms of cools social programs a la Ford, they are watching the rebirth of a company through focus on the 4Ps. Roots baby.  Eminem baby.  Where’s Kid Rock? GM is blocking, but I’m not so sure they’re tackling.  The foreign value brands are pretty much growing a bit over the pace of the market. Ford may want to look over its shoulder — is it losing its hunger? Is it placating the dealers once again?  Come on Chrysler. It’s pay back time! Peddle down. Peace.

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I love the fact that ad and marketing agencies are getting into the business business.  Anomaly, Kirshenbaum, Bond, Senecal and Partners, Horizon Media,
Rockfish Interactive, GMD Studios and a handful of others, rather than just making ads that either work or don’t, or creating websites that click or don’t, are turning business ideas into commercial enterprises. And experiencing that reality.

The biggest gripe between agencies and clients has always been that agencies care about the communication first and leave the sales to the clients.  Sure, the agencies will go flip some hamburgers when they win a new fast food account or sit in the emergency dept. to see what healthcare is all about, but at the end of the week the paycheck shows up and the pain is someone else’s if “the work don’t work.”

By starting businesses with new P&Ls this new breed of shop gets to “feel” all 4 Ps. Plus they get to feel the customers. Feel their own employees. Noah Brier a smart new school marketer suggests every marketer should learn to write little code just to get a taste of what digital is all about. Get the hands and brain dirty.  Agencies that build outside businesses will first flounder a bit and then excel at their craft. Droga5 became a stronger shop thanks to Honeyshed, mark my words. Peace!

 

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