The New Face of Marketing and Product Strategy

How Marketing has transcended the “4 Ps” concept in many ways

PART ONE: A retrospective look at the Four Ps

Years ago, Philip Kotler, PhD., wrote the seminal book on Marketing that has been used in colleges and business schools across the country. “Marketing Management” was my first introduction to Marketing at Rutgers Business School.

In it Dr. Kotler outlined the major foundational elements of marketing with the “4 Ps.” They consisted of:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

They, of course, still remain the pillars of Marketing in a global business economy. However, I believe that as the world economy changes and new business challenges emerge there are at least three more elements we need to look at:

  • Positioning
  • Process & People
  • Partnering

Let’s take a look at these individually.

PRODUCT:

Millions of products have existed since the dawn of time across every civilization. Today, products can range from highly technical products for business-to-business (B2B) environments to almost anything for consumer (B2C) products. Who could have predicted the age of infomercials sixty or seventy years ago?

To have a successful product, you need to either answer the need of a prospect/customer or create a need that the prospect/customer has not seen but would be interested in.

Remember a true Sales Lead consist of the following:

  • Prospect has a problem
  • Prospect has shared the problem and has the desire to solve it
  • Prospect has a budget to solve the problem
  • You have a product to solve their problem

Some years ago, I read a blog post from Lynne d Johnson then at  www.fastcompany.com that looked at the situation in a different way. She outlined “The 4Cs Concept.”

  1. Customer’s wants and needs
  2. Cost to satisfy the customer
  3. Convenience
  4. Communication

Some interesting context…

“Marketing has changed. We’re in the age of one-to-one marketing, where the customer actually has a role in shaping the messaging for your brand. Social Media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, user-generated tools – have given her all she needs to effect whether your products and services do well in the marketplace. Long gone are the 4Ps of marketing, these are the days of the 4Cs, a customer centric approach that includes the customer’s wants and needs; the cost to satisfy the customer; the convenience; and communication.”

Some great points but I still think the 4Ps and the others I intend to point out are very relevant.

PRICE:

In today’s market, it is essential to do some market research on who your target market is before considering price points. Look for analysts’ reports that might be available on pricing. Don’t be afraid to reach out to executives via LinkedIn for discussions on pricing and market conditions. You might be surprised at what you could find out. It gets harder if you have a new product entering a market where there are no competitive price points.

If you are creating a product where there are competitors then you may be able to get competitive pricing from target market executives who already use an existing product. Believe me, I’ve seen it done. Face-to-face meetings with executives can bring a wealth of information.

Lastly, you should be pinging your sales teams – direct and indirect – for competitive pricing if you are creating a product that already has competition in the field.

PLACE:

There are so many ways to promote products today that you will need to determine which one makes sense for your product and company. That would include:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) through Keywords, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), blogs, banner ads, Google ads, email, LinkedIn ads and targeted campaigns, print materials, YouTube, Twitter, SlideShare, Facebook, Instagram, and Google+.

This also goes back the previous comments on “The 4Cs.” The Internet has turned the world into a global market so be prepared to get up to speed on digital marketing. There are lots of digital marketing individuals, agencies, and groups who will do the nuts and bolts work for you. Remember though, outsourcing carries its’ own burden especially if you are thinking or using an international resource. Are they going to be in the same time zone as you? I once had to work with an agency from California while I was working in New Jersey. Their 9:00 AM was my Noon. Moreover, their 5:00 PM was my 8:00 PM. Think about it especially if you are working on a time sensitive project.

PROMOTION:

Again, there are many ways to promote products in today’s global and digital economy. Many could be a good thing or a risky thing if you have not fully thought out your promotion strategy. That would include online and offline. One of the top ways to promote a product is face-to-face at trade shows but it is very costly. That also depends on the product, market, and end-user customer. I have done many trade shows for a wide variety of products in both the B2B and B2C sectors. So, I saw the value of those face-to-face interactions.

Now, using the Internet there are opportunities for remote, virtual events where your team can participate. Presentations can be made to an online audience that can attract leads and interaction for your sales teams.

Regarding the previously mentioned online and offline options [see Place section], you will have to know what works best and what potential costs you will incur. One of the best sources for a breakdown of methods and costs comes from www.MarketingProfs.com Each year they publish their annual “B2B Content Marketing Report.” The report details Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends in North America from over 1,000 executive respondents. So, it’s a great resource to find out the best tools and returns on effort.

Here are some interesting points on promoting your products from Mike Moran, a Digital and Social Media Consultant [www.MikeMoran.com]. Mike teaches both the Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing and Mini-MBA in Social Media Marketing at Rutgers University School of Business. I attended the inaugural class for the Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing in July 2010. I then introduced Mike Moran to the Rutgers programs.

Here is something that I believe is directly related to promotion that came from Mike Moran.

“The Three Rs Concept”

  1. Real:
    1. Are you thinking about a new way to talk about your business?
    2. Would you show customer reviews on your website?
    3. Would you show competitive pricing?
  2. Relevant:
    1. Personalize your offers
    2. Show demos on YouTube.com
  3. Responsive:
    1. Does your customer service reach out to customers?
    2. How far does your customer service reach out?
    3. Are you helping customers even when they don’t expect it? (Pro-Active)

PART TWO: The New Face of Marketing and Product Strategy

The New “Ps” for Marketing in a Global Economy

Now comes some additional Ps that I think need to be brought into the mix in this global economy. 

POSITIONING:

I keep bringing up a global economy that we are dealing with. Products can now be shipped all over the world and there are more competitors across the world than ever before. It’s critically important that you know your market and look for unaddressed needs among prospects (and customers).

How you position your product in this business environment may make or break the product’s success. Ideally, for an existing market you want to perform a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). See where your product stands and what are potential threats – physical, environmental, social, political. When you do that be sure to be open to self-criticism and out-of-the-box thinking. Better to be prepared than sorry you missed something.

The most important thing in positioning is your product’s Value Proposition. It has to be unique and should be cast is stone. I always joke that the third tablet that Moses carried down the mountain was a Value Proposition. That’s the one he dropped.

Value Proposition:

  • Who is/are your target market(s)?
  • What is your frame of reference to the market(s)? (Manufacturer, Value-Added Reseller, etc.)
  • What are your key product differentiators?
    • What does your product do that other products don’t or can’t?
  • What is the reason(s) to believe?
    • What proof points can you present a prospect with?

PROCESS & PEOPLE:

This goes to the heart of how you develop products and how your people interact with your processes. You definitely need a process. Once I worked at a mid-size telecom company where I attended Monday morning meetings with the Director of Product Management and about eight Product Managers. The Director asked a question one morning, “How would you take a product idea from a cup of coffee discussion in the cafeteria to out the door?”

No one answered. There was no process. Next thing I know is a couple of days later the Director is coming down the hall to me with thirteen product roadmaps in three-ring binders. “Dom, see if you can get some synergy out of these?”

So, I did my homework and talked with various staff throughout the company. I then developed a stage-gate process that could take an idea to production completion. The stage-gate process forced teams to work together and get “buy-in” on time, budget, and resources.

At Lucent Technologies, back in the days of 150,000 employees, I worked on another process problem. Seems that management had no way to improve sales of Professional Services Offers. Account Executives would sell a customer a PBX and maintenance agreement then walk out the door. The company was missing out on an enormous potential revenue stream. I worked with the then Director of Enterprise Marketing to scope out the problem. I was tasked with going throughout the then huge organization structure to find out all the professional services offers. I came up with 156 offers that were being missed by the sales teams. The existing offer documents were 50-pages long that no one really read. Working with my Director of Enterprise Marketing, we developed a system of customer needs that could be contrasted to existing offers. Then I went about paring all the offers into a 2-page format that concisely described what the offer actually did for the customer.

We than made a digital web tool that allowed the account executives to pick the customer needs. The digital process then displayed all the appropriate offers the account executive could discuss with the prospect. It essentially was creating a new sales framework for the sales teams.

Today, teams can work with Agile Development to instill speed into their development processes. It originates in the software development industry but could be adapted to other industries.

Agile development is a set of development methods in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, continuous improvement, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change.

This is what can be achieved using Agile methods:

Focus, Commitment, and Motivation can be transitioned to…

The Agile Triad: Cooperation, Collaboration, and Cooperation

Scrum is an iterative (repeating) and incremental Agile development methodology for managing product development. It defines “a flexible holistic product development strategy where a development team works as a unit to reach a common goal.”

Think about looking into the many different methods of agile that are available to assist both production, and software development.

PARTNERING:

Again, we go back to that global economy we live and work in. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Plan out where you are going to sell and remember our earlier discussion on customer service. See if you can find existing partners who can help get your product to market faster. Speed is of the essence when working on product development but getting it right is most important. Who has skills that compliment your development team? Who has an existing sales and distribution networks? Who could extend your customer service capability?

I think you get the idea. Don’t try to be everything – be open to partnering.

In conclusion, I believe the 4Ps are still important, relevant, and must be addressed. However, Positioning, Process & People, and Partnering are essential in today’s challenging business environment.

 

Dominic J. Frúges

Dominic J. Frúges

Dominic J. Frúges is an experienced Product Marketer and Strategist across B2B, B2C, High Tech, and Services. He has worked on twelve product launches from inception to completion in both B2B and B2C industries. He also holds Scrum Product Owner Certified Credential from the Scrum Alliance. He has an MBA – Rutgers University, Mini-MBA in Digital Marketing – Rutgers University, and CloudMASTER® certification from NJIT University.

 

domfruges@gmail.com

Cell & Primary: 732-684-4029

Twitter: @DomFruges

www.LinkedIn.com/in/dfruges