Are the 4 Ps of Marketing Still Useful?

Welcome to the modern marketer's guide to the four Ps of marketing. In this article, we'll discover the history of the four Ps of marketing, why they matter, and how they apply in marketing today

Most importantly, we'll teach you how to implement them with integrated project management tools to take your marketing to a new level of efficiency. Let's get started.

What are the four Ps of marketing?

The four Ps of marketing are the central building blocks required in marketing any product, service, or business. Used interchangeably with the marketing mix, the four Ps of marketing interact significantly with one another constrained within a marketing environment.

You can think of the 4 Ps like a chain, where every P connects with the other. Invented by American marketing professor E. Jerome McCarthy, the four Ps of marketing was one of the first marketing models that devised a clear process for marketers to brainstorm, improve and streamline their marketing, and achieve set goals. 

The four Ps of marketing are: 

  • Product: Product refers to what customers pay you for, whether it's a product (physical or digital) or service. Once you have an established product, you can use the four Ps of marketing to improve the product and push new features, upgrades, and options. 
  • Price: Price refers to what you charge for your product and other financial aspects of your business. Profit margins, positioning, supply/demand, and even your competitors' pricing all fall under this category. Price also influences your decision-making for the following two Ps. 
  • Promotion: Promoting your product is all about developing quality touchpoints with your market. These touchpoints convince leads, prospects, and customers to find your business, learn about your product, and ultimately buy it. Promotion is the most exhaustive and quickly evolving block of the 4 Ps of marketing. It continues to evolve and expand thanks to new tools like social media and performance-based analytics
  • Place: Place refers to where you sell and where your audience spends their time, whether online or offline. Place is also known as distribution. It breaks down all the ways you can get your product to your customers. 

How do you use the four Ps of marketing?

The four Ps of marketing have plenty of great applications. In addition to bringing clarity to your marketing, enhancing collaboration, and getting everyone on the same page, they guide your overall business strategy

The four Ps of marketing ensure that your marketing and positioning are aligned with your organization's goals and systems and easily explained to new hires. This way, your organization's marketing is systems-based and consistent, not reliant on any marketing team member. 

Using the four Ps, you can identify and enhance critical factors that are at the core of your business, including:

  • What your customers want from you
  • How your product or service meets their needs
  • How your team communicates with customers
  • How you differentiate from your competitors
  • How customers perceive your product or organization
  • Your organization's positioning and values 

Why were the four Ps of marketing invented?

The 4 Ps of marketing were invented in the early 1950s to solve problems marketing managers face. They focus on strategizing and executing marketing projects rather than on the characteristics of marketing systems and their functions. The 4 Ps of marketing were created when there was no other detailed outline for marketers to follow. They usually began at their expertise level, starting from scratch with each new marketing campaign. 

McCarthy's book, “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach” (1960), introduced the 4 Ps concept and included chapters on consumer behavior, marketing research, and segmentation to round out the tools available to marketers for use in problem-solving and defining the right marketing metrics

The four Ps are helpful to kickstart new marketing campaigns the right way. They help break broad ideas into actionable steps that make it easier for teams to conceptualize, set realistic targets, and achieve their goals.

How do the four Ps of marketing fit into the marketing mix?

We can't talk about the four Ps of marketing without discussing the marketing mix. Some marketing professionals use them interchangeably — however, marketing mix and the four Ps of marketing are closely related, yet different. 

The four Ps of marketing represent the practical application and synergy between your product, price, promotion, and place and is used as a foundation to develop marketing strategy and execute campaigns. The marketing mix is more straightforward: It's all about putting the right product in front of the right people at the right place at the right time. 

To oversimplify, if the four Ps of marketing is the umbrella, the marketing mix falls under it. 

Four Ps of marketing examples

Here are a few examples of the 4 Ps of marketing and how they help to solve problems and guide strategy. 

Problem: Your business offers high-quality services, but you're new to the area and need to build up your clientele list.
Solution: Hone in on the promotion section and assess how you can improve advertising, sales, and publicity. You may choose to offer time-bound discounts for early customers or participate in local trade fairs and exhibitions to attract more customers.  

Problem: Your company attracts prospects and first-time customers, but most of them don't stick around long-term. 
Solution: Your promotion and price seem to be working fine. Take a closer look at your product to see if you can improve it or offer more value. Talk to your customers about what they need and communicate how you can help them. You may also consider advertising in places where your current customers hang out to help them remember your brand.  

Problem: Your brand is in a highly competitive space and has difficulty differentiating itself from other businesses like it. 
Solution: Assess your product to see how it compares with the competition. Spend time honing your USP (unique selling proposition), then promote through the best channels to find your ideal customers, communicating what makes your product unique and valuable. 

Problem: Customers rave about your store, but they have to travel out of their way to get to it. 
Solution: Brainstorm ways to reach your customers or distribute your product to reduce the logistics hurdle for your customers. You can collaborate with retail outlets in your target market's main locations.

Problem: Locals know who you are, what you do, and where to find you, but most of them work with your competitors who undercut your prices. 
Solution: In this case, it may be best to reevaluate all 4 Ps of marketing to see how you can improve your product, cut costs to reduce price, connect with your market better, or launch a targeted marketing campaign to attract your ideal customers. 

How have the four Ps of marketing evolved?

Over the years, the four Ps of marketing have expanded alongside modern technology. New Ps have been added to the marketing mix to make them more robust and adaptable to today's trends. 

Although we can still use the initial four Ps of marketing, they don't cover the complexities of doing business today. In addition to these new tools, we're knee-deep in the aftermath of globalization in the workplace, especially post-COVID-19. Companies that operated out of individual storefronts now serve customers in countries they've never even set foot in. These and other changes have necessitated expanding the 4 Ps of marketing.

Are the four Ps of marketing still useful?

The 4 Ps of marketing are still a useful marketing model and form a good foundation to begin any new marketing campaigns. However, there is some debate among experts over the 4 Ps’ relevance to modern marketing. Let's take a look at both sides.

Arguments against the 4 Ps

Today's consumer-based strategy is complex, and the four Ps of marketing do not encapsulate everything modern marketers need to create effective campaigns. The original 4 Ps marketing model proposed that the four Ps were a cycle – a closed loop. Today's marketing experts view the model simply as a good beginning to a marketing mix that is fluid and adaptable to new information. 

Arguments in favor of the 4 Ps

The newer additions to the 4 Ps of marketing have made them more robust and relevant to the modern age. Marketing experts maintain that the four Ps of marketing still provide as much clarity and guidance for marketing campaigns as they did in the 1950s. The strengths of the original four Ps of marketing and the weaknesses covered by the three new Ps can be aligned and managed to attain success. 

What are the 3 Ps of marketing?

The 3 Ps of marketing strengthen the initial 4 Ps, making them more relevant to modern businesses. The 3 Ps of marketing are:

  1. People: Who you have on your marketing team matters, especially now that data analysis and social media skills are essential across all industries. Your ability to facilitate collaboration among them is also important, especially if you've got a wide variety of time zones to navigate. 
  2. Process: The original four Ps helped us understand what to do, but now we're getting pickier about how we do it. Automated systems are more than just a buzzword; they're a foundation for daily marketing activities, especially when you consider how high volume most campaigns are today compared to the 1960s. 
  3. Physical evidence: Customers expect to see solid proof that your product is as you say it is. Thanks to advanced photo editing technology, sleek product packaging, and consistent branding online and offline, customers make buying decisions based on their perception of your product, service, and business.

What are the 7 Ps of marketing?

Below are the seven Ps of marketing we use today.

  1. Product
  2. Price
  3. Promotion
  4. Place
  5. People
  6. Process
  7. Physical evidence

How to unite all 7 Ps of marketing

All seven Ps have a lot of moving parts to manage. Here's some of what marketers have to navigate and manage when they unite all seven Ps of marketing: 

  • Remote teams: Misaligned time zones and cultural hurdles make getting things done a little more challenging. 
  • Competing priorities: Thanks to factors like email newsletter analytics and social media shares, marketing feedback is often instantaneous. While this means marketers can adjust as they go, it also requires them to switch gears when they notice something isn't working. 
  • Immediate audience demands: Customers expect the marketing department to monitor and respond to their feedback across multiple channels in short time frames, often putting pressure on teams and taking attention away from big picture projects. 
  • A faster pace of business: Society as a whole is more productive than ever. But that also means your competition is, too. Keeping up with thousands of competitors is a challenge as they churn out new marketing campaigns daily. 
  • Infinite moving parts: Your content marketing calendar alone takes hours to create, edit, and execute. And that's just one facet of your work within the structure of the seven Ps. 
  • Rising consumer expectations: Anyone with a smartphone can download an app to order food to be delivered, select a TV show from a personalized list of recommendations, or even hire someone to walk their dog, all within a matter of minutes. Customers now have these quick expectations for you and your product because they've gotten used to how easy and streamlined other daily experiences are. 
  • Communication issues: We almost have too many ways to talk to one another. Texting, instant messaging, emailing, calling, tweeting, video chatting – all of these things facilitate communication, but can cause important information to get lost along the way, especially when you're working with multiple teams on a variety of marketing Ps. 

Why do the 7 Ps need to be united at all?

Whether you agree with marketers who think the first four Ps are insufficient or not, the 4 Ps provide the foundation for the three new Ps to attract success. For example, what's the point of having all the best people on your team if you don't have your product or pricing figured out? 

There are many real examples of marketing gone awry when the first four Ps were ignored, the most famous of which inspired two high-profile documentaries

What makes alignment of the 7 Ps challenging?

Whether you're switching from the 4 Ps to 7 Ps or working with your own modified version, the number of Ps can be challenging to manage. At times, they even compete for resources or get in the way of each other's progress. With the new marketing responsibilities and tasks the 3 Ps add, organizations may require larger marketing teams and better management practices and processes to handle them simultaneously. 

Use Wrike's project management software to streamline your 7 Ps of marketing 

Using the 7 Ps of marketing provides you with a strong foundation to create marketing campaigns that succeed. Wrike offers robust marketing management software that helps to organize your teams and processes, integrating with your marketing apps and providing insights into what works so you improve on every marketing campaign. 

With Wrike, you can align all 7 Ps with real-time visibility, streamlined communication, and collaboration. Just as no great marketing strategy is complete without the seven Ps of marketing, no successful execution of the 7 Ps is complete without clarity from good project management software. 

Are you ready to enhance your marketing strategies and execution? Get started with the Wrike marketing campaign management template and a two-week free trial of our marketing project management software.

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