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.

People

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.

Presence

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.

Pervasiveness

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.

Publishing

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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