The “4 Ps” are the cornerstone of modern “marketing mix”: Price, Promotion, Place, and Product. They were first defined by author E. Jerome McCarthy in the 1950s and they are marketing gospel today: product, place, price, and promotion.

• Product is the goods, services, or solutions that the provider delivers. This is really the end game for the entrepreneur since it is all about the customer and not the product, but more to come on that later.
• Place is the way or the method that you get your product, service, or solution to the customer. This could be a retail store, a website, or a sales representative.
• Price is the financial exchange for the value that the provider delivers to the customer. The customer deems that the price is right or fair and that your product is worth it. Implicit in this transaction is the fact the customer chose your product instead of the competitor’s offering.
• Promotion is the how you get the message to the customer. In the broadest sense, this includes publicity, advertising, and public relations.

For the entrepreneur, the challenge is to adjust this mix of marketing tools to accommodate the changing needs of the competitive environment. For example, pricing might need to be reduced in response to competitive pressures. Alternatively, more advertising might be required to create awareness of the product.

Candidly, the 4 Ps are a bit out of date. The 4 Ps look at marketing from the provider’s point of view rather than from the customer perspective. In the new millennium, the customer is in charge and demands to be served their way, when they want it, and where they want. Got it?

Dr. Bob Lauterborn, a professor at the University of North Carolina, gets it. He thinks that we need to toss out the 4 Ps. He contends that there are actually 4 Cs:

• Consumer Wants and Needs–Instead of products first, you need to find what the customer wants and then create the product, service, or solution. This makes too much sense. It is all about the customer, not the solution.
• Cost to Satisfy–Instead of price, think like the customer does. Customers ask the question, “What will it cost me to be satisfied and get what I need”. The customer will pay a fair price for a fair deal.
• Convenience to Buy–Instead of place, the more pertinent question is how and where does the customer want to purchase? This question is getting tougher to answer with increasingly segmented consumer markets, the worldwide web, and the global economy.
• Communication–Instead of promotion, which stinks of manipulation or greed, you need to ask the customer questions and listen. Blasting the airwaves with a repetitive advertisement does not work anymore, since the customer is numb from too much advertising, while being more sophisticated than past generations. Customers have access to nearly as much information as providers, much to the consternation of the providers.

The 4 Cs make more sense to me.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.

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