Experience and the 4 Ps of Marketing

Jared Spool

November 2nd, 2012

Thanks to Marco Dini for translating this post to Italian.

Co.Design published an article asking why business schools are still teaching the four Ps of marketing when three of them are dead. Great article if you ignore the premise, which I think they got completely wrong.

For those of you who haven’t stumbled across the four Ps, they are product, promotion, place, and price. They are the basics of good marketing and they are anything but dead, as the article asserts. However, since they were first conceived in the 60s, a lot of things have changed, primarily the influence of experience.

Promotion‘s death is highly exaggerated, as it is a significant factor today. It’s easier than ever to create new products or services. The trouble is, how do you let someone know you’ve done so?

The knowledge of the best products and services are not transmitted through traditional advertising or guerrilla marketing methods, but through word of mouth. This isn’t new. It’s been this way for a long time. We just couldn’t tell.

Think about your favorite restaurant — how did you discover it? Probably not through a TV ad or a email blast. Most likely, it was because someone told you about it or took you there. Then you were hooked.

Promotion today is about great experiences. The restaurant won you over because of something special it did — some element of great experience.

Promotion isn’t dead. It happens when you provide a wonderful experience that makes people talk about how awesome you are.

What about place? Is that dead? Nope. It’s just virtual. Products need to be listed in the right place, whether that’s found on Amazon or in an appropriate App store. Services need to have the right URL for people to remember how to bring it up.

The experience of finding your product or service is now something you can design. It needs to be part of our process. We need to think about place as much as we think about what happens once we’re found.

And what about price? The article asserts that with comparison sites, only the lowest price matters. If that were true, nobody would ever buy a Lexus or a BMW.

Price is now about communicating our value. To charge a premium, what does the customer get? The quality of our experience explains why we’ll pay more for an Apple tablet than a Dell laptop.

Along with the product, the other Ps are not dead. They are driven by the experiences we create.

This means that experience design has become a core asset to the traditional marketing approach. The four Ps are now part of the overall experience. (Actually, it always was – we just weren’t paying attention as much.)

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