Are the 4 Ps of Marketing Still Useful?

Welcome to the modern marketer’s guide to the four Ps of marketing. We’ll discover the history of the four Ps of marketing, why they matter, and what they look like today. And, most importantly, we’ll teach you a little bit about how to effectively implement them with cutting-edge tools like project management software. Let’s get started! 

Marketing mix: a revolutionary concept

Before we can really get into the four Ps of marketing, we have to discuss marketing mix. Not only does it have an interesting history in the world of business, but it also has some highly desirable benefits. And after you layer in promotion, your marketing mix is virtually unstoppable. Read on to learn more about marketing mix and what it all has to do with the four Ps of marketing. 

When was marketing mix first invented? 

Although there are many theories and concepts whose creators are lost in history, marketing mix is most often credited to the founder, E. Jerome McCarthy, but some sources note that Neil Borden originally coined the term. We’ll focus on the former. 

McCarthy was an American professor and author of textbooks many top universities still require today. He first published the concept in 1960. And because the idea of a standardized, universal marketing template was not widespread, marketing mix quickly became a foundation for business professionals around the country. 

In fact, the idea of marketing theory was still so new that both his idea and the very creation of it changed this industry’s history forever. 

What is marketing mix? 

Marketing mix is a universal model for product promotion that can be applied to any industry. McCarthy’s four-point vision named promotion, product, price, and place as equal segments of one big, continuous marketing circle. 

At the time, this method of organization helped marketers and product developers collaborate, set clear objectives, and consistently monitor progress. This theory has since been updated to meet the needs and technological developments of our modern world, but we’ll get to that later in this article. 

Why is marketing mix important? 

Besides revolutionizing the industry, marketing mix has a lot of great benefits: 

  • Marketing mix attracts new potential customers. You can concentrate on specific areas to push brand recognition and reach targeted groups. 
  • Marketing mix persuades existing potential customers. Test different mixes to see what your captured leads respond to the most.  
  • Marketing mix facilitates more effective communication. It’s easy to get on the same page when everyone understands the game plan at a glance. 
  • Marketing mix defines roles and responsibilities for every new project. Each section has its own unique challenges but because they are clearly defined it’s easy to assign the right people to the right tasks. 
  • Marketing mix helps decision makers allocate resources and define next steps. Some areas require a little more push than others depending on your goals. 
  • Marketing mix illustrates the big picture of your business, which is essential for tasks like future product development, progress assessment, and team assembly. 

What is promotion & why is it important in marketing mix? 

Your marketing mix can be the best in the world but if no one knows about it, it’s useless for sales. While promotion is one main component of any marketing mix, it’s also considered its own separate project. In fact, you may even be inclined to pair a promotional mix with your marketing mix. 

What does marketing mix have to do with the 4 Ps of marketing? 

The confusing aspect of marketing mix vs. the four Ps of marketing is that, depending on who you speak with, some professionals use them interchangeably and some do not. But the truth is that marketing mix and the four Ps of marketing are two different (but related) entities all together. 

Marketing mix is all about putting the right product in front of the right people at the right place at the right time. The four Ps of marketing have a similar definition, but they represent practical application and can be used as a method to execute marketing mix. To oversimplify, if marketing mix is the umbrella, the four Ps of marketing fall under it. 

Now that we know everything about marketing mix and how it differs from the four Ps of marketing, let’s dive into our main topic.

The 4 Ps of marketing: everything you need to know

We also have E. Jerome McCarthy to thank for inventing the four Ps of marketing alongside marketing mix. The marketing classification model now creates a tangible system for business professionals to collaborate together, boost sales, and reach their goals in more realistic terms. 

Why were the 4 Ps of marketing invented? 

They’re primarily useful for breaking down a broad idea into actionable steps. When you can categorize the different sectors of marketing, it’s easier to brainstorm new ideas, set realistic benchmarks, and reach goals in a timely manner. 

Remember, at that point in time there was no other detailed outline for marketers to follow. They were often left to their own devices, starting from scratch with each new product. Thanks to the four Ps of marketing, professionals could finally identify, organize, and execute the dozens of actions required to pull off a successful campaign. 

What exactly are the 4 Ps of marketing? 

As we briefly mentioned earlier, the four Ps of marketing include: 

  1. Product. This refers to whatever it is you want customers to pay you for, whether that’s a service or an actual product (both physical and digital). Successful products give your audience something they want and/or need. Once your primary product is established, you can even use the four Ps of marketing to push new upgrades, features, and options. 
  2. Price. What you charge for your product determines all the financial aspects of your business. Profit margins, positioning, and supply/demand all fall under this category. Price will also help guide your decision making for the next two Ps. 
  3. Promotion. Promoting your product at its chosen price is all about enough quality touchpoints with your audience. These touchpoints will persuade them to discover your brand, learn more about your product, and ultimately make the decision to purchase it. Promotion is by far the widest category and has grown even more complex thanks to tools like social media. 
  4. Place. Once you know what you’re selling, how much you’re selling it for, and how you plan to get the word out, you then have to find out where your audience spends their time. This is applicable both on and offline.

What are some ways to use the 4 Ps of marketing? 

The four Ps of marketing have plenty of great applications as a whole and when broken down into individual components. In addition to focusing on marketing efforts, enhancing teamwork, and getting everyone on the same page, you can use the four Ps of marketing to tackle both big picture and detail-oriented tasks. Here are some four Ps of marketing examples to help illustrate our point. 

What are some 4 Ps of marketing examples? 

  • 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 where you can improve in the future. Also take a peek at your pricing – maybe your new competition offers better value for the same rates. 
  • Problem: Your company has no problem getting customers in the door but most don’t stick around long term. 

    Solution: Your promotion and price must be working. Take another look at your product to see if you can upgrade it or offer more add-ons. You may even want to consider advertising in areas where your current customers hang out to help them remember your brand.  
  • Problem: Your brand is in a highly competitive space and can’t seem to differentiate itself from others just like it. 

    Solution: Assess your product to see how it compares with those around it, then promotion to help customers understand what makes your brand truly unique. 
  • Problem: Your customers rave about your store but they have to travel out of their way to get to it. 

    Solution: Find ways to promote your products online, collaborate with other businesses that exist in your target market’s main locations, and consider making your price so competitive they’d be thrilled to go the extra mile(s).  
  • Problem: Locals know who you are, what you do, and where to find you but the majority of them keep leaving to work with competitors who undercut your prices. 

    Solution: In this case it may be best to reevaluate all of your marketing Ps to see where you can realistically save or adjust to make up for the loss. Then use the model to create a game plan moving forward. 

So as you can see, the four Ps of marketing were used not just for marketing but for almost all major business practices. And over time, this theory has grown and expanded alongside modern technology. Here are what the four Ps look like now and how you can use these updates to fuel any major product or service strategy. 

What are the 4 Ps of marketing today? 

Saying a lot has changed since the ‘60s would be an understatement. But in the world of marketing (and at large) there are a lot of exciting advancements that affect the way we sell products, promote services, and engage with new generations of customers. This theory has withstood the test of time thanks to the transformations we’re about to cover. 

How are the 4 Ps of marketing different today? 

The short answer is we’ve added three entirely new Ps to the original four Ps of marketing. The long answer is that today’s marketers have access to decades’ worth of consumer reports, surveys, and statistics, giving them a wealth of insight into the psychology and habits of their target audiences. Marketers also now have more tools at their disposal than even McCarthy himself could ever have dreamed of when the original four Ps were unveiled. And don’t even get us started on the transformation the concept of a brand has gone through in the past 60 or more years. 

Which brings us to our next question: 

Why did the 4 Ps of marketing become the 7 Ps of marketing? 

Looking back, most marketers agree that the change was inevitable. Although we can certainly still use all four Ps of marketing in our modern strategy, they don’t cover all the complexities of doing business in this day and age. 

In addition to having new tools and resources, we’re now knee-deep in the aftermath of globalization. Companies who operated out of individual storefronts can now reach customers in countries they’ve never even set foot in. 

The increase of internet accessibility has also made it easier for professionals to share educational tools, hire, and work with employees all around the world and compare themselves to an even wider pool of competitors. 

Once you add it all up, it’s easy to see how we came to choose these new additions to our favorite marketing theory. 

What are the 3 new Ps of marketing? 

Here’s what the world’s best marketers have added to the time tested, original concept in light of these mind-blowing changes: 

  1. People. Who you have on your marketing team matters, especially now that skills like data analysis and social media are a basic requirement across all industries. Hiring the right people still matters. And so does your ability to facilitate collaboration among them, especially if you’ve got a wide variety of time zones to navigate with your remote workers. 
  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 when the profession was in its infancy. 
  3. Physical evidence. Perhaps one of the more recent additions to the family, the idea that seeing is believing has been skewed thanks to advanced photo editing technology, sleek product packaging, and uniform branding both on and offline, all of which can be manipulated to alter the consumer’s perception of the product or service (especially when it comes to digital ecommerce). This is why physical evidence is so important – customers need to know that they are going to walk away with something they can touch, feel, and/or see for themselves. 

Nowadays experts disagree that seven Ps of marketing is enough with some marketers going as far as proposing alternatives or additions. But for the most part, all the Ps covered here encompass what’s generally accepted by the modern marketer and can help facilitate better business practices now and into the immediate future. 

So, are the 4 Ps of marketing still useful today? 

The answer is: no! And yes! We’ll explain. 

Why experts say they’re not

Today’s consumer-based strategy is really complex. The four Ps of marketing can’t possibly encapsulate everything marketers need to know to make informed decisions. And the original model proposed that the four Ps were a cycle, whereas modern marketers view the process as fluid to adapt to new information. 

Why experts say they are

Not only are they historically significant, but the four Ps of marketing are also still being used today. The additions have brought it into the 21st century, but for the most part, the original Ps still hold strong. The way we look at them may change thanks to the evolution of technology and how contemporary teams do business. But at the end of the day, the four Ps of marketing still provide the same guidance, touchpoints, and common ground today as they did in 1960. As long as we look at them through the lens of the tools and resources we now have at our disposal, it’s still a viable method for marketing. 

Both parties make excellent points. The strengths we love about the original four Ps of marketing and the weaknesses pointed out above can all be managed if you have the right tools for the job. This is especially important when you consider how you’ll choose to incorporate three new additional layers to the whole thing. 

How to unite all 7 Ps of marketing

Clearly you’ve got a lot of moving parts to manage. Here’s how to do it all. 

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

Whether or not you agree with marketers who think the first four Ps are outdated, the original segments provide the foundation for the remaining three Ps. For example, what’s the point of having all the best people on your team if you don’t have your product figured out? There have even been plenty of examples in the news of great marketing gone awry when the first four Ps were left out of the equation (the most famous of which inspired two high profile documentaries). 

What makes alignment so challenging?

Whether you’re switching over from the original system or starting from scratch, the sheer number of Ps is hard to manage. At times they can even compete for resources or get in the way of each other’s progress. And with all the new tasks required, they also need larger teams and better management practices to run them all simultaneously. 

How do modern business structures affect alignment?

Here’s what marketers now 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 the minute they see 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 which can often put pressure on teams and take attention away from big picture projects. 
  • 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 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 delivery food, select a tv show from an AI-generated list of recommendations, and even hire someone to walk their dog all within a matter of minutes. They now have those same expectations for you and your product because they’ve gotten used to how easy and streamlined their 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 important information can often get lost along the way, especially when you’re working with multiple people on a variety of marketing Ps. 

What tools help make aligning all 7 Ps of marketing possible?

The good news is you may already have them! Above all else, the best way to align all seven Ps of marketing and keep the challenges of modern business structures in check is to use project management software (like the kind offered by Wrike). Not only will it help you manage all those moving parts, it’ll also allow you to centralize communication, access dashboards with at-a-glance project updates, and provide a system your whole team can follow. Just as no great marketing strategy is complete without the seven Ps of marketing, no successful execution of marketing’s seven Ps would be complete without a little help from project management software.

Now that you know why the 4 Ps of marketing are still useful, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned to your own marketing strategy! 

Remember, aligning both the old and new components of the potent marketing formula is key to success. Be sure to check out Wrike and start organizing all seven Ps of marketing today.

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