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Since the 1960’s, marketers have used the 4 P’s model as a way to plan and execute the marketing mix (product, price, place, promotion). This mix, combined with the traditional planning/operating cycle (research, plan, implement, measure, optimize) has served as the core foundation taught in schools and implemented by countless organizations.
However, these traditional models have gaps and drawbacks that limit their usefulness in strategically managing a business. The traditional 4 P’s of marketing tend to create a tactical focus that overlooks the importance of upfront strategy. And, the traditional planning/operating cycle often leaves out the importance of beginning and ending with the customer/consumer.
Here I propose two new and updated models. These new models go beyond tactics. When combined, they provide a way to map a complete strategic view of both the marketing process and the organizational mix of resources required to build a high-performing marketing organization.
THE MARKETING PROCESS EXPLAINED
One of my favorite ways to think about marketing process is to visualize a cycle that begins and ends with the consumer (or customer, for B2B). On this cycle, map major phases in the macro-process that you use to learn from the consumer and eventually deliver back to them relevant products and services.
You’ll see that this marketing process mimics a long-term development process. The advantage of looking at the process this way is that it forces you to think more holistically and strategically. You’ll start to see how your organization functions from beginning to end.
While businesses don’t always operate in perfect sequence like this all the time (in reality it is more iterative), the goal is that information and tasks generally follow this macro marketing process:
- Consumer and Customer Insights—Start here to maximize relevance and focus on what matters from a consumer perspective.
- Category and Competitive Analysis—One step removed from the consumer. This analysis sets up the business context from which a strategy can be formulated. It can also include capability, supply, macro-environmental and channel analyses. Market and Competitive Landscape Analysis: An Outline to Jumpstart Innovation
- Business Vision and Strategy—Based on consumer insight and category/competitive context, a strategy can now be formulated to reach long-term goals. The organization can then focus on what matters from a business perspective.
- Competitive Positioning—After developing a long-term strategy, the positioning exercise provides specific direction for all brand activities. This step may also include portfolio strategy (architecture).
- Ideas, Concepts, Tactics—With strategy and positioning in place, the business can now conceptualize tactics (product, service, communication, etc.). Tactics are vetted and optimized until a business case can be made.
- Offering Development and Execution—In this step, tactical solutions are narrowed to the handful that will undergo development. For product development, marketing often provides R&D or technical experts with detailed concepts or specifications for execution.
- Customer/Channel Marketing and Sales—When development is further along, customer and channel discussions ramp up. Think channel strategy, sales playbook, line reviews, etc.
- Media, Advertising, Communications, PR—What many think of as “marketing” is actually one step in the larger marketing process. The development of consumer/customer-facing content helps ensure that products/services will eventually make it into the hands, hearts and minds of the people they were designed for. How to Write a Communication Strategy: Where Great Campaigns Begin (With Template)
- Customer/Consumer Moment of Truth (MOT) Touchpoints—Really a subset of the previous step, but worth calling out separately. This step includes any content or materials that appear as final touchpoints with the consumer. For example, in CPG this step includes final execution of packaging, shelf materials, etc.
THE NEW STRATEGIC 4 P’S OF MARKETING
The tactical 4 P’s of the marketing mix do serve a purpose. But if we want to strategize at a higher level of how we build a marketing organization, a new framework is required. I suggest a new set of strategic 4 P’s: People, Partners, Processes, and Platforms. Marketing leadership can apply these four lenses to uncover gaps and opportunities for improving organizational performance.
P #1: PEOPLE
I find that the lens of People helps provoke thinking in a few ways.
Looking at the marketing process, ask yourself: “What organizational structure and functions are required for the marketing process (cycle) to turn with excellence?” What are the key roles and skills? Do I have gaps? This helps evolve the organization.
You can also look at the marketing process through your own personal lens. What individual skillsets are you lacking that you want to develop? Are you less experienced in research? Strategy? Media? What can you do to make yourself a better general manager?
You can even use the marketing process to prompt career coaching conversations with your team. Do your team members desire to be generalists or specialists? Roles like Brand Manager sit at the center of the process as generalists and touch all parts of the process.
But, if team members desire to go more in-depth into specific field, look around the outside of the cycle for numerous specialties in the world of marketing. Wonderful careers exist out there from specializing in research, to becoming a strategic consultant, to working for communications agencies or in digital content and automation.
P #2: PARTNERS
The Partners lens is similar to the People lens in that it represents parties that help you accomplish the marketing process with excellence. Think of outside partners as a complement to your internal teams and resources.
You’ll need to decide which key functions you need to supplement or gaps that you need to close with outside help (e.g., deciding whether you want graphic designers in-house or whether you want to leverage an agency… or both). Perhaps you are lacking a key function, or you simply want to address capacity.
P #3: PROCESSES
The Processes lens forces you to have a clear understanding of how people and teams work together. Think of workflows, stage-gate, SOPs, decision-making processes, and collaboration practices.
What specific processes do you have in place that propel the work and the alignment of decisions? Are there breakdowns in or between phases where more formalized or consistent processes are needed?
Each part of the marketing engine must work in sync together—all roles played with excellence at just the right moments.
P #4: PLATFORMS
The Platforms lens includes technologies and infrastructure that support people, partners and processes. Platforms enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Examples might include enterprise software, analytics, CMS, automation, etc.
Find platforms that can flex to the way you need to work as a business. Clear roles and processes will help determine platform requirements. You may also find new platforms that warrant rethinking previously established roles and processes.
ASSESS YOUR ORGANIZATION
Putting it all together in the slide below, you can see that the combination of the marketing process and the new strategic 4 P’s can be a powerful tool in assessing and building an organization.
Can you fill out or create a similar model using a list of your own resources? How do you get all of these things done? Or do you?
Use the following blank template to map your current and ideal organizations side by side. How do they compare? Do you have work to do?
Finally, stay open-minded. Evolve your marketing organization over time to constantly improve and stay at the front of the competitive marketplace.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.