The New 7Ps of Marketing: Disregard at Your Own Risk!

7 12 2015

Marketing CloudI was reading an article in the recent Forbes online CMO Network by Kimberly Whitler entitled: What are the top predictions for marketers heading into 2016?   Ms. Whitler surveyed some experts, including CEOs, Presidents/GMs, CMOs, authors and executive recruiters.  In a different but recent article, Forbes CMO also ranked the top 50 CMOs.  To me, I would have rather heard their predictions.

I always enjoy reading “predictions” because they keep me on my toes- maybe I missed something- and makes me challenge what I believe are the upcoming trends.  As a businessman and marketer I certainly don’t want to be caught short.

I found the article very interesting and certain worthy of consideration.  I feel after reading the comments that each person is looking at the “elephant” from their unique vantage point.  And frankly, I am not sure they are predictions or wishful thinking based on the viewpoints of the interviewee. Nevertheless, they are certainly food for thought.

From a holistic view, my prediction – or wishful thinking – is that marketers need to start with the customer and realize that marketing has become multi-channel and multi-dimensional.   The smart CMO must orchestrate the new marketing mix. That means they need to simplify messages sent to consumers through whatever channel is relevant to them i.e. digital, small screen, large screen, Point-of-Purchase.  And they need to determine which is most relevant for the target personas.   Moreover, the smart marketer should consider all the tools in his/her toolbox and select those tools that are most effective for getting the right message and INTERACTION with the customer.

When I put this together, i find that the old model of 4P’s is antiquated.  I believe the new prediction is that good CMOs are now considering 7Ps in a holistic view: the original 4 (product including product/service development, price, promotion, placement (digital or traditional), and the new three consisting of process (including customer engagement, referral and loyalty), people as brand messengers at point of purchase or via customer care, and personalization (through technology).

The “traditional” 4Ps of marketing are well known.    In the day, marketing was about creating demand, and to a large degree it still is today.  But the focus was on selling a product to meet a need.   In general, promotion was based on advertising push.  The marketer’s mantra was to shout out the virtues of the product by mass advertising. To some who read the history books, the “soaps” on TV were called that because the consumer goods manufacturers such as Tide, All, and Fab were sponsoring and advertising on the TV shows aimed at the housewives and other stay at home folks.

Pricing was simple.  Manufacturer’s set price and used a price point philosophy of good, better, best. Placement represented where the consumer could buy the product i.e. at the neighborhood store or a mass retailer or even door-to-door sales and home delivery.

Because of technology such as the internet, and the movement away from a manufacturing to a service company, even the original 4 P’s have changed.

FROM                             TO

Product         –>       Solution

Promotion    –>       Information

Price               –>       Value

Place               –>       Access

 

Consumers and businesses want solutions to their problems and want to understand how the product/service will perform.  Due to the internet, both as catalogs of information and online reviews that are omnipresent through a myriad of sources, information has replaced pure promotion.   Certainly consumers and businesses want to find the right product at the right price, yet price by itself has been replaced by value with the value add sometimes being generated by service agreements and extended warranties.  And primarily due to the internet, place (distribution) has increased to a multi-channel access.  Think about the changes from the 1990s when e-commerce was first getting started to today.  Consumers and businesses now have electronic exchanges and other online venues from which to buy goods and services.   And now, coming full circle, we see Amazon opened its first brick and mortar store in Seattle.

Now let’s add the new three elements to the marketing mix.  First is the element of PEOPLE.    When I was head of marketing at US Cellular, we changed our brand and positioned our company using the tag line “the way people talked around here.”   Why did we do that?  In part, we recognized from our research in the late 90s and early 2000s that customers in our market wanted something more than what other cellcos offered.  We were not going to be the most technologically advanced (although our network and engineering were superb), nor were we going to cover the most customers in the country.  What our customers wanted was a relationship with our company, represented by our front line sales and customer service people.  They wanted a company they could trust.  At that point, we realized that people were the brand messengers and in our touchpoint marketing system, represented a way to affect the relationship and alter the buying habits of our consumers.  And it worked.  Our retention rate i.e. loyalty, was the best in the in the business.

The second new element is PROCESS. Many companies loathe the word process because they feel it is bureaucratic.  To me, process is the mechanism for repeatability. We want processes to help the customer in building its relationship with the company and also empower the employees to do their job to satisfy the customer.  Clearly, it is a tricky balance!   The processes today – mostly enabled by technology- relate to tools that help the company serve the customer.    There is a dizzying array of tools that the marketer has to understand and use.  See Marketing Technology Landscape by Scott Brinker or some of the Lumascapes by Luma Partners.  Some of these tools include ways to mass customize a product or service to the customer needs.  Witness the new companies entering the market to build relationships with consumers and business buyers.  There are processes enabled by digital and web technologies that enable social engagement and the marketers use these new tools to build and maintain relationships with their customers.   This improves value through new services and interactive engagement in the eyes of the buyer.

The final area is PERSONALIZATION. Several of the interviewees pointed out that understanding the customers’ persona is critical to segmentation.  Once you understand who they are, the company has to satisfy their unique requirements.  I have always been a fan of mass customization (read Joe Pines original work) or macro-niching as I use to call it 5 years before mass customization became vogue.   Personalization is easy today with technology.  You can see it when you buy a car.  Go into a BMW or Jaguar dealer in their store or online and the system will build the car for you.  Buy a house from Toll Brothers and you get a platform and options to tailor the house to your needs.   Go on the web and find a case for your smart phone and you can easily customize it with your school logo and colors.   Consumers want to feel special and that ensures a solid on-going relationship with their customers.

Traditional and Social Media MarketingMarketing has changed and will continue to evolve over the next several years.  Clearly there will be a natural bonding between the CIO and CMO as marketing technology has become more important in defining the marketing mix.  While Ms. Whitler did not ask my prediction for 2016, I will share it with my readers.    I predict that marketing will be more about the customer and the great marketer will find the right combination of the 7 elements to build and sustain relationships with that customer.  At least I hope so.

I would be glad to continue the dialog or share additional thought.  Feel free to visit us on our web at www.clevelpartners.net or contact me at dfriedman@clevelpartnes.net.

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Product Managers: Become your own Steve Jobs!

29 09 2011

I am a big fan of Steve Jobs- for what he has done for a broad range of customers, for the tech market, and for innovation in general. He has shown emotional resilience (remember he was exited from AAPL but then formed Pixar and then came back), fortitude, willpower, vision and an eye for detail. To say he is a model leader is an understatement. He is THE icon of tech leadership.

Enough plaudits for Steve. The question that I want to address is how does a product manager become “Steve Jobs” for his/her product line? First, let’s make an assumption that acting as Steve Jobs – evangelist, leader, innovator, and stickler for detail- is good. Can you learn to be exactly like Steve? Not at all. Yet, that doesn’t mean you can model his leadership. And, how can a product manager do that? What are some of the key elements that the product manager should focus on?

Here’s a checklist of items for the product manager to consider. How many of these attributes do you display?
1. Think customer. Walk in their shoes. Find out who are the lead users. Talk with your technologists and dialog with them on the art of the possible – of what the technology could do for customers.
2. Make products and services easy to use. Put the complexity behind the hardware, the software and the interface. Make it intuitive for people to use. Consider integration of mobile apps with online applications and the ability to enter information via a traditional laptop.
3. Embrace technology. Take a techie to lunch. Attend tech sessions. Share your plans with them and have them share their new technology discussions with you. Ask questions how the technology can apply to different markets, uses.
4. Respond to market changes. Some of this will come from the technology side as new technology will yield drastic changes in functions and features and even entirely new applications. However, the key is making technology relevant to the customers. Use a new product advisory board to glean input.
5. Become friends with the vendors, suppliers and others in the supply chain. Be demanding of them as you are to yourself and to your team. Yet ideas coming from these partners can help you and your products stay ahead of the competition. Perhaps there is a technology they know that you can embed in your product and get an exclusive for a period of time.
6. Build a strong integrated technical, marketing, and sales team. This will ensure success. Be demanding of each group and set a standard modeled after your own attitude and work ethic.
7. Be an evangelist both inside and outside the company. Build excitement and suspense. Become a showman so to speak, making the product exciting and building suspense before the actual release. Use Beta tests; get the product into the hands of the technical analyst community. Find lead users and innovators to try the product and provide testimonials. Many product managers are reserved and introverted focusing on the development of PRDs and MRDs. As the “owner” of the P&L for the product line, the product manager has to be evangelist or find someone on his team to assume that role.

I have known many product managers that have several of these qualities and the best ones display all of them and more. What are your thoughts on the skills and capabilities of product managers that will make a difference in the success or failure of a product?





Prioritizing for the Long Run

17 08 2011

I was meeting with another executive the other day and we were talking about his new consulting business. And as we talked, we latched on to the subject of product prioritization because this was one of his focus areas. We thought that it would be nice to share a basic tool that clients can use to help them prioritize their projects, development efforts, marketing programs and other activities that generate revenue.

It seems relatively easy to prioritize. Make a list. Rank them. Determine how much money you have to spend. Draw a line. End of subject. Now, in a small owner controlled business, it is probably just that simple- or pretty close to it. The owner can make the decision and have people execute his plan. However when a company grows and you have several “chiefs,” prioritization is not that easy. There is both the hard decision of which projects to do and the equally difficult issues of ensuring every one of your teammates (from executive team all the way down to work groups) understands and executes the plan.

Let’s look at one way to prioritize projects with this emphasis on revenue producing ones. We hear this all the time. The CEO says: “we need to grow our top line. Get people together. Get ideas. And let’s discuss what we can implement.” Is there a relatively simple way to make the decision on which projects to do and if you wind up with resource constraints which projects will fall by the way side?

Decisions can be made based on fiat, whim, or gut feel. But this company is more egalitarian, like most well run companies. Let’s say the CEO convened his executive group. By asking certain questions, it was determined that there are four attributes that are important to the executive team: Market Strategy, Financial considerations, Strategic Fit, and Competitive positioning. Let’s further assume that for each of these attributes, one or more factors can be determined which support those attributes. For example under the attribute of Market Strategy, both market need and market size were important factors. Similarly, the executive team determined several elements which supported the attributes.
All in all, a total of 10 elements were specified. If a project were rated on each of these 10 elements the executive team would be able to determine the goodness of each project. (Side note: It is easier said than done that the executive team will have to agree to all these elements and attributes. There are reasons why it is difficult to quantify not the least of which is that such a system takes away the emotion and the “gut feel” for the decision.). Once these attributes are determined, a simple system can be developed to weight each of the 10 elements from 1 (low weight) to 3 (high weight). Second, each of the elements can be scored on a 1, 5, 9 scale which correlates with specific measures that can be quantified. Finally, a weighted score – combining the weights and score of each element- can be determined. All projects can therefore be measured against each other. See the attached for the basic tool:
Basic Project Prioritization Tool

Once each of the projects is scored, an ordinal ranking can be determined. The executive team can have several options to make their final selection including a) taking the projects in sequence until all funds are used up, b) dividing the projects into quartiles and quintiles and only considering those within the top two groups, c) using 80% of the funds designated to the top projects with the remaining 20% at the discretion of the CEO or other executive, or d) variations of the preceding three options.

Prioritization is inherently difficult but I have described a tool that can be used to help the decision process. It’s not perfect and it will not work for all organizations and executive teams. But the tool can also be used as a means to get alignment on what is important in picking projects/products and instill a discipline for the company which can increase the probability of success. The reason for this is that in reviewing the projects/products each of the attributes and elements should be reviewed at each stage gate or review point.

What other tools have you used to prioritize projects and products? Did you have one tool for everything? Or do you have different tools for cost reduction and revenue producing projects? Do you have a tool for prioritizing IT projects and a tool for marketing projects? How do you allocate funds among marketing, IT, finance, product, R&D activities? These questions need to be addressed by all executive teams. And the good thing about business is that the answers will differ among different companies and in different industries. And those different answers and execution of the plan will make some companies high fliers and others also-rans.

If you need some help in developing these types of analyses, please contact me.

David Friedman