The 9 P’s of marketing

The internet was the first giant, dynamic shift in Marketing in decades. Social Media was the next frontier that marketers embraced and both have changed the way we market everything.

Marketing classes have promoted the 4 “P’s” of marketing since they were developed in the 1960’s by E. Jerome McCarthy. They are classics, still taught today in educational institutions. However many in the industry say there are more than 4 if you want to truly understand current marketing methods.

The classic 4 are:

  1. Product -a physical product or a service is your “product”. The product and it’s benefits are in a constant rotation of the product life-cycle and need help from the other “P’s” to compete in this hyper-competitive environment.
  2. Price – in most industries this is a rotating target based upon competition, industry as a whole, current trends and predictions of sales.
  3. Place – is where you sell your product, distribution channels, and now the internet (not part of the thought process in the original 1960’s model).
  4. Promotion – includes public relations, advertising, sales, events, white papers, websites, ad words, press releases, sponsoring events, training events and many more, but I think you get the idea. I also lump process into the promotion category predominately because process is a lot about promotion. Proctor and Gamble is a perfect example. In December of 2010 P&G announced that they will no longer sponsor soap operas, they will continue to advertise during those time slots, but they are shifting their process of promotion to social media
  • Additional “P’s” that belong under promotion, Permission based marketing, Partnerships, and Personalization.

Contemporary approach with new “P’s”:

5.  Purpose – This is my favorite “P” – if you do not know the “why and what” you want from any piece of marketing material before you distribute or create it – you might be wasting a whole lot of money. With all that is available today for tracking from landing pages to unique URLS and PURLS (personalized URLS) specific to a marketing piece – why aren’t you tracking as much as possible. Know in advance – is it brand awareness or a call-to-action. What numbers are you aiming for (Predictions) – an increase in website visitors, conversion from visitor to customer, or new customer leads – I think you get the idea – know the “why and what.”

6.  People – I used to think that people belonged in the promotion category – but there has been a swing in a new direction as people “evangelize” your product. They may be employees, internet bloggers, or just people that love your product talking about it. People are also key to innovation when they actually take the time to talk to a company about a like or dislike of a product. Remember what happened when Coke changed their Classic Coke – that was a people rebellion on a grand scale. Engaging with customers and their engagement with you is priceless. You can learn so much

7.  Processes – you can have a great product or service but if you don’t have the processes in place, you are likely to fail. Processes include a strategic marketing plan which feeds into the business plan for the company, and a marketing budget – all should have short and long term predictions. Process also includes A/B testing of ads, copy, who will be your social voice, and what will be your social voice. Mistakes can end up costing jobs or reputation.

8.  Philosophy – it is no longer sufficient to be a company with a product or service. You also often share your philosophies with the world. Menlo Innovations– often invites groups of people, even their competition, in for up to week-long sessions – to show off their philosophy for developing software via extreme agile project management and paired programming. Green energy firms – Accio Energy, eco-friendly cars – Smart Cars, and electric bikes – Current Motor Company – all have a philosophy behind them. It is part of their company DNA, it is what they live and breathe at work.

9.  Packaging – from traditional packaging to non-tactile packaging on the web for services or downloads, packaging your product or service becomes more and more important as the global market place is now your competition.

There are other “P’s” that could be added to the list, but I think this covers the main old and the new “P’s” of the marketing world.

This article was originally published on AnnArbor.com – I own the copyright.

Marketers must be mindful of the dangers of “greenwashing”

You don’t have to look far to see examples of green marketing — they’re all around you. Plastic bags that decompose, Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper, and bio-based cleaners all have something in common — they are green and can prove their products are less harmful than their non-green counterparts.

However when a company actively engages in greenwashing — the promotion of a product based on misleading “green” claims — it’s looking to deceive the user into believing it’s helping the environment, when in fact it may be contributing more to its decline. Sometimes the promotion is unintentional, such as a promotion plan that was not well thought out.

Let’s take a look at a few greenwashing examples for analysis, with links for further details.

Adding the term — green, eco-, environmental, bio-, organic and others to your promotion, but the truth is your product or service has little to do with anything green.

Example: Eco-Conscious Female Doll. In 2008 a large toy producer was ecstatic to introduce their latest version of their toy — a doll whose accessories were partially made by excess fabrics and trimmings from their other doll accessories. Problem was, no one saw this as an eco-friendly product. Most of the product, including the doll and accessories are made from plastic (oil consumption and chemicals), very little reused product was put into the new products, and it was all made in China. This led to numerous posts on blogs (especially the mom blogs) and other web sites identifying this as a greenwash by the company. Negative publicity by bloggers and anti-greenwash sites with high readership only hurts your brand or product.

Adding the color green to your logo, literature, name etc. — “if you paint it green, they will buy” attitude.

Example: A cleaning product that has been around for several decades not only used the color green as part of its labeling but also used the word “green” in its product, long before it was cool to use the term and the color. The marketing worked and still does — a lot of people think this product is healthy and good to use in your home. However if you use this product without wearing a mask, you will quickly learn something is not so green about this product.

Adding a leaf or a tree to your promotional messages — probably the most common and simplest-to-execute greenwashing technique.

This example actually hits the trifecta of greenwashing. 1. Added green terminology 2. Added green color 3. Added a leaf to the message

These diapers were touted to be organic, hypoallergenic, latex and fragrance free, and a host of other claims that somehow made it green. However, as many noted — organic wasn’t backed up by being certified organic, nor did the company state how much of the materials were organic. The packaging and inks were not green friendly, and the biggest fail of this product’s greenwashing attempt: The diapers were not biodegradable, which would have made this product a win.

Sadly, all of these promotion types work. People buy into the hype because it is easy and they don’t look beyond the claims associated with the promotion. However for those that are informed and looking for greenwashing — not only do they spot it, but they blog about it, they tell their friends about it, and they send a message to anti-greenwashing websites. Negative perceptions of your product are not the goal. Make your product or service a real ecologically healthy product and then eco-promote.

Further reading:

The seven sins of greenwashing.
A branding primer: Green is a color. Sustainability is a practice.
FTC proposes crackdown on greenwashing.

This article was initially published on AnnArbor.com – I own the copyright to it.