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September 21, 2010
The Five P's of Modern Marketing

Whatever else can be said about marketing -- and people have a lot to say about it, to be sure -- at heart, it’s all about making connections and creating relationships. It’s also a numbers game -- the more opportunities for connection you create, the greater the chance of building the relationships that matter most.

In the not-too-distant era of marketing via “product, place, price, and promotion,” this meant casting a wide net of monolithic branding in hopes of netting the ideal customer catch. While that approach can be successful, it’s inefficient. The four P's only allow you to show one side of who (or what) you are, which leaves you with just one audience to speak to.  

What if you could show all the sides of who you are -- and in doing so, connect with many more types of potential customers? You’d probably never settle for a single dimension again, right?

If you want to paint the fullest picture possible for your audience, you need the five P’s of modern marketing.

1.) PurposeYour purpose is the core; the thing your products and services give dimension to.

If the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company thought it was in the mining business, not the innovation business, we wouldn’t have Scotch tape, Post-It Notes, or 3M. Focusing solely on products or services can mean missing the bigger picture -- and failing to adjust to the marketplace’s ever-increasing rate of change.

A solid understanding of your broader purpose not only helps keep focus on what you do best now (the core of good business and branding strategy), it allows you to adapt to what comes next.

2.) Personas. In this socially hyperconnected world, your customers are the most critical component of your successful marketing strategy, yet the four P’s don’t acknowledge them. Old-school marketing strategy is all about, well, you. But the reality is that your brand exists in your customers’ heads and hearts, not your headquarters. Your strategies need to reflect what they value and how that differs among customer personas.

We’ve learned to look at demographics, but what about motivations? Think, for example, of all the different reasons people buy Apple products: innovation, style, features, quality, function, and status. By accommodating that range of motivations in their design and marketing, Apple successfully develops products that appeal to multiple demographics.

Motivation-based customer personas help you not only find new markets for current products, but also develop new products that your existing customers will actually want to buy.

3.) Product. Your products (or services) give your purpose shape and form. You can add dimensions to your products -- and thus opportunities for new connections -- in several ways. Starbucks did it by adding product lines to build out its purpose as a “third place” destination: in-store and instant coffees, snacks, soundtracks, and even a satellite radio station.

You also can alter the form of your offerings. Car companies are masters at this (and why most have sedans, coupes, minivans, and trucks), but even a “service” company like Weight Watchers extended its model to accommodate its customer personas: traditional and “at work” meetings, as well as online options.

4.) Presentation. In addition to adding to or tailoring your products and services, you can adjust how you present them to the marketplace. Your content and your concept (language, style, etc.) can be shifted to resonate better with customer motivations.

While few organizations have the resources to create completely different presentations to target different personas, the more diverse an approach you have, the more opportunities for connection you’ll create. Airlines and hotels, for instance, adjust their advertising (and offerings) depending on whether they’re talking to business travelers or families.

In all cases, the most successful presentation strategies move far beyond traditional promotion. They move from selling features and benefits to offering ways to address your customers’ needs -- and values.

5.) Presence. Your presence -- both physical and virtual -- provides context for the other P's, and literally is where connections happen. Physical presence includes where you are and what your surroundings look like. Krispy Kreme used to select locations just far enough away to ensure purchases that made the trip worthwhile. Apple extended its design sensibility to its glass-fronted flagship stores. Ralph Lauren, J. Crew, and Thomas Pink “scent” their stores for multisensory brand presentation.

However, presence isn’t limited to the physical anymore. Opportunities for adding dimensional presence occur in all the places people interact with you. Kodak -- another company that saw its purpose (“imaging”) as bigger than its products (film, anyone?) -- has four blogs, each with its own persona-defined purpose and presentation, in addition to a whole section just for scrapbookers. They also have multiple profiles on the platforms where their diverse community congregates: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.

The key is to matter where it matters to be -- and to present your customers with what they’re looking for where they're looking for it in ways that will engage them genuinely.

The marketplace isn’t monolithic, and neither are you and your brand. To increase your chances of creating more -- and deeper -- connections, you need a marketing strategy that’s as multidimensional as the marketplace you target.

How could the five P's change how you do business?

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Tamsen McMahon is Director of Digital and Strategic initiatives at Sametz Blackstone Associates, a Boston-based, brand-focused communications practice that integrates strategy, design, and digital media to help mission-driven organizations navigate change. She joined Sametz Blackstone Associates after 15-plus years in arts and higher education marketing. Reach her at (617)266-8577, and follow her on Twitter.

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