The 4 P's of marketing - as relevant today as they ever were

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By: Neil Edwards on 3rd August 2011, 3 minute read

David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR and responsible for turning half of the planet’s marketers onto social media, me included, recently posted a blog on the 4 P’s of marketing.

Titled ‘Why the 4 P’s of marketing do not work on the web’, Scott claims that this mainstay of marketing theory is out of date and ‘forces marketers into a paradigm that just isn’t effective in a social world’.

Whether it was an earnest attempt to challenge traditional thinking, or a deliberate act of provocation, I’m not sure.  What I do know is, it’s wrong.

For the benefit of those who haven’t poured over this stuff for far too long, the 4 P’s stand for Product, Place, Price and Promotion and have long been held as the corner stones of any marketing plan.  Various attempts have been made to augment the 4 P’s - I have seen seven (add in People, Process and Proposition) and even eight (Positioning), but, for the most part, it is four.

Scott claims that a focus on product leads to creation of web content that is product centric, not client centric.  Promotion gets us into a campaign mentality and Place and Price implies that all that matters is driving people to purchase (well it is, isn’t it?).

Sorry David, this is a complete misinterpretation of a simple and unassuming model.

Product tells us to think about the product or service.  What is it?  Who will want it?  What need does it satisfy or problem does it solve?  Think of it in terms of solution if you prefer a more client centric view.

Place asks us to think about where the transaction will take place.  At one level, this can be on or off-line, at another it is about geography - or even the cloud.

Price is the pricing strategy - cost leadership, market skimming, remind yourself of the theories and choose the one that works.  Price is the name, value is the game.

And Promotion. The narrow definition of marketing for many and where the rubber hits the road.  If you can’t work out how to get people to know, understand and love your proposition, you’re in trouble.

So, pray tell me, what element of all this is not relevant on the web?

Content marketing, I get (but do admit to a crisis of confidence every now and again - are we educating and engaging our prospects or feeding our egos and the search engines?).  Content marketing is simply the Promotion of the 21 Century: education and engagement are the buzz words of the age.

The web has revolutionised our lives, but it doesn’t invalidate the fundamentals of marketing.  The intelligent marketer will simply apply the models to the new world.

Let’s not over intellectualise this stuff.

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Neil Edwards


Neil Edwards

Neil is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing with many years' experience in marketing, brand and communications.

CEO / The Marketing Eye

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