According to the marketing guru Philip Kotler – the Professor of International Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in the USA and, in 2008, was named as the ‘sixth most influential person on business thinking’ by the Wall Street Journal – marketing is based on four ‘P’s: product; price; place, and promotion. For 30 years and more, these have been the pillars of successful marketing. Now, however – in the light of the development of the internet along with various changes in world economies, these factors appear to be undergoing some subtle changes.
Some commentators argue that the customer now has more power to influence the purchase – so ‘product’ becomes ‘customer value’; ‘price’ becomes ‘customer costs’; ‘place’ becomes ‘customer convenience’, and ‘promotion’ becomes ‘customer communications’.
According to the best selling author on sales and marketing, Grant Leboff, no one buys ‘product’ any more. They buy ‘experience’. Price is now relative – depending on when customers want the product or service (for example, air fares). Moreover, the internet destroys ‘place’ since most things are available via the web. Leboff added that ‘promotion’ is not done by mass advertising and mailshots but, increasingly, by getting customers to come to you – via word of mouth and your website.
Comment: If Leboff is right – and there are signs that he could be – this is changing the way that sales, marketing and PR should be done. Large agencies and ‘traditional’ consultants with reputations and vested interests to conserve may – Canute-like – continue to ignore these trends. But, as Voltaire once said (in his Notebooks, volume 2, “The Piccini Notebooks”), ‘God is not on the side of the big battalions but on the side of those who shoot best.’