The NEW “Four P’s” of marketing

Place, product, price and promotion.

We all learned these basic marketing principles in college and they still stand up today. But the social web is a true shift in the way we communicate and go to market.  For the first time, mankind has access to real-time, free, instantaneous, two-way, global communication — and the good old marketing mantra needs a little updating.  Here are my thoughts on the NEW Four P’s of social media marketing — People, Presence, Pervasiveness and Publishing.


The social web is the first true PEOPLE-driven communication channel.  Everybody’s a video star, a rock star, a broadcaster, an author. Everybody creates, reviews, publishes, and bitches.  Publicly.  Permanently.  We have the opportunity to listen intimately and often. We can tune in to laugh and cry with our customers, wherever they are in the world. The consumer-driven web is the biggest marketing revolution since radio.


This is different from the old concept of “place.”  The old marketing “place” to sell, market or distribute was a tangible location like a grocery store. We knew where our consumers were … and they’ve probably been there for decades.   Where are they getting their information today?  From a video game?  From a link on a tweet?   From their phone?  From a coupon on their phone automatically sent to them by an RFID/GPS system while they are standing next to your product in the grocery store?

To make it even more complicated, a customer’s source of information may be constantly shifting.  Think of the implications if you choose incorrectly or your competitor moves into an emerging platform more rapidly. Kind of makes you want to go back to newspapers, huh? That’s why you need to develop a presence that can adapt and adjust to wherever consumer attention drags you. It will be fascinating to watch the big brands create a unified and compelling presence across so many platforms.


Let’s take a lesson from Twitter to illustrate this key concept. For years, Twitter hasn’t focused on making money. It has focused on DOMINATING  and pervading a consumer space. Why? They know that consumers will have the bandwidth for just one micro-blogging site. Once they devote their emotional equity to one platform it will be extremely difficult to get them to switch. Perhaps impossible. And that’s what Twitter is counting on.

So it might be easy to get folks to taste a new brand of cookie or soft drink, but it will be much more difficult to get them to switch to an unfamiliar communication or marketing channel.  Brand marketers jockeying for precious consumer online attention will have to develop ideas and entertainment concepts that are pervasive and with high emotional switching costs.  Not cheap. Not easy.


Five years ago, would you consider a shoe company to be a significant publisher?  Yet Zappos has more than a dozen blogs. I contend the biggest challenge to any marketer may be the publishing of consistently engaging, meaningful content. And increasingly that means cutting through the clutter with entertaining content like puzzles, games, contests and videos. The implications of sustaining an organization’s publishing presence is daunting!

So what’s your take on this?  How are you adjusting to the new P’s?  How are you integrating them with the old ones?

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  • Your lessons here, as always, are well heeded. The four P’s HAVE changed. Still, the one that is staying with me is the big C that you mentioned today, connections. If I’ve learned nothing else, it is that connections (which, if handled correctly, become lasting friendships) are a primary, and perhaps the most important, parameter of all.

  • What a great post, Mark! I get a rush of excitement seeing where each new post is going to take me. I’m thrilled to see the consistent quality of your ideas and writing.

    The 2 points that really struck me here are Pervasiveness and Publishing.

    I hadn’t really thought about how Twitter have been locking us in to their culture, but I think you’re right. My initial reaction to Buzz was: “Well, it’s not Twitter!”. So I’ve definitely drunk the Twitter Kool-aid.

    Then there’s publishing. And what a monster that one is. It’s incredibly difficult for a company (or sole trader!) to keep coming up with content on a daily basis, but the studies I’ve run show that daily updates are vital to traffic and connections.

    I’m telling business bloggers to be as creative as possible and look for windows to feed creativity in their lives.

    So I guess my to CCs to your Ps would be: Commitment and Creativity.

  • Mark

    @Greg + @Jon — Connections, Commitment and Creativity added to the Four P’s! I’ll buy that! : )

  • Pervasive, now that holds a ton of gold in truth! @Jon…you don’t realize how attached you are to a brand until they present another to you and you subsequently turn your nose up. I looked at Buzz, connected it to twitter and kept on tweeting! I also like the Publishing reference but funny enough the P that gets me thinking the most is People – (you only gave us a paragraph Mark!) I suppose this can be likened to connections. However I am here thinking how do we leverage our “People”, how do we reach/gain more “People” (following). How do we get more “People” engaged. The answer could very well be in the other three Ps but I want to look at it independent of the others, at least for now. Pondering…

    Love this blog Mark, got me thinking.

  • Mark

    @Natasha Oh that people one is huge for all of the reasons you mentioned here. It is the centerpiece of social media marketing. Here’s what’s new: Your customers are people instead of unknown strangers. Thanks for your insights today!

  • @Natasha – Great point! I did the same, to be honest. But I have had one conversation with a client on Buzz since it debuted but that was because he buzzed me and I happened to notice….:)

    The “people” issue is a toughy. I think companies have to remember to be people first and foremost and companies second if they expect to talk to people and reach them.

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  • Harry B

    Any effort witout the passion of committemnt is doomed,at best,to mediocrity and,at worst to dismal fail. The P’s of Passion and Productivity are an easy match for your essay.

  • Mark

    @Harry. Well said! Great addition.

  • Ok hang on here kids. I hear what you are saying. I kinda agree. But, (you knew that was coming) we have to take things in stride. The science of marketing (it is a science) is about the company or service getting to the market profitably. What your product or service is and all that comes with that, how it is priced, to whom it is directed (needs-based) and then how it is promoted is key. The channels for promotion change all the time – and that is good. Some rapidly like the Net some slowly like broadcast.

    I would caution folks to hold onto the Social Media as the next big Promotion (or communication/conversation) Tool and weigh whether a tweet-fest will beat a 30 million dollar campaign.

    Yep it can help a company if they so choose and their market is there, or it can hurt a company if they screw up. Again of their market is there. But that is an issue of acceleration. The Net is wonderful for that.

    There is a wonderful opportunity for companies to be transparent. Talking to the folks. Listening to the folks. It is after all a conversation (Cluetrain-guy here) but the Social Web is still a freak show. Joe Six Pack is not quite there. We are still preaching to the choir here.

    And for proof of that pudding isn’t it witnessed that, for example, some company gets into trouble and subsequently addresses it – like Dominos – that it is only when the media pick it up it gets out of hand?

  • Nice post. I would add a fifth “P” – Persistence. So many times you see a business try something once and then just give up – especially on Twitter.

  • Mark

    Absolutely! Well said!

  • One more brought to us by the letter P and a renown marketing head:


    As in ‘Permission Marketing’ by Seth Godin (1999).

  • Mark

    Very good. Well said!

  • 4 Ps, 7 Ps for service and now additional social media Ps… a lot of Ps.

    Social Media offers a way to engage with Customers – to learn from them, to sell to them and to offer post sale care – all of which drives word of mouth, brand awareness and sales.

    New tools might require new strategies but not an overhaul of our goals. There is a danger of not being able to see the wood for the trees.

    Social Media should not be a “tick box” thing …

  • Mark

    @Freak I completely agree. If you’ve been around the blog long you would know I’m a fundamentalist when it comes to strategy.

  • Really like this post, Mark, and the Sesame Street image is priceless.

    Could not agree more on People (no matter what the technology, it’s about the people) and Pervasiveness (you have to be everywhere), but my favorite is Publishing (We need to think like a publisher today)

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    President, Find New Customers

  • I hate to throw a wet blank on some very good perspective here, but too many marketers are forgetting that product and price, your value proposition, still matter deeply to customers. With the rush to engage by emphasizing your new 4 Ps (which are good ones), actually delivering value often get overlooked.

    More on this thought at

  • Mark

    @John — no wet blanket at all. Of course the fundamentals still matter. I agree completely.

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  • And while the fundamentals still matter, they need to be adapted. They don’t stand on their own nearly as well as they used to. It’s all about integrating with new ways of thinking and applying.

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