The death of the 4 Ps of marketing: why the new model is the 4 Cs of marketing

An earlier version of this article appeared Fieldboom’s website.  

Over the past few decades, the marketing world has undergone a shift in focus and philosophy.

The “old way” of marketing has all but disappeared.

Casting a wide net and reeling in any consumer in the hopes they become a paying customer is no longer effective for marketing today.

The modern customer yearns to be treated as an individual by even the largest corporation.

In the early 1990s Robert F. Lauterborn understood this shift and developed the 4 Cs of Marketing as an updated version of the 4 Ps.

Let’s dive into each “C” of marketing and discuss how each relates to a corresponding “P” of marketing.

1.  Customer Wants and Needs (Instead of “Products”)

When you think about it, focusing on products before focusing on consumer needs is sort of putting the cart before the horse, isn’t it?

In the modern business world, developing a product and/or service before thinking about whether there’s a demand for said product and/or service in the first place will almost certainly lead to failure.

Really, it’s always been this way. The major difference today is that uncovering the needs of your vast base of target customers has never been easier.

That’s not to say that doing so is easy.

It’s just much easier than it was in the pre-digital age.

Rather than gambling on whether a product you’ve already developed will succeed, you can now easily validate your idea at a fraction of the cost before you sink money into developing it.

The internet gives you an opportunity to:

  • Reach out to your target customers to understand their wants and needs
  • Research customer reviews of similar products to understand where there’s room for improvement
  • Create content relating to your idea to see if it creates enough of a buzz to warrant development of a product

In doing so, you can enter the world of business with a much better understanding of who your customers are, what they want, and how you can give it to them.

2.  Cost of Receiving Service (Instead of “Price”)

When you set a price for your product and/or service, you’re unwittingly placing your offer in a vacuum.

Of course, your customers don’t live in a vacuum. They live in the real world.

If a customer purchases your product and/or service, they’ve traded a lot more than just the money they give the cashier at the register.

They’ve also traded gas (and gas money) to drive to your store.

They’ve traded time that could have been spent elsewhere for time spent browsing your wares.

They’ve expended energy and stress wondering if your product will be worth the amount they’ve paid for it.

At first glance, it might seem like there’s not much you can do to alleviate these extra costs to your customer.

But think about it.

Could you offer free shipping for purchases made online?

Alleviating your customer’s need to drive to your brick-and-mortar location.

You could improve your customer service or change your store’s physical layout to make the process of finding and purchasing products more streamlined.

Or you could offer a timed return policy or warranty on all items, easing your customer’s worries that they might lose money on the deal.

Rather than simply focusing on price optimization, focus on alleviating cost to the consumer.

3.  Convenience to Buy (Instead of Place)

Let’s assume that your storefront is in a rather convenient area (or, if more applicable, your online shop is easy to navigate).

When it comes time for a customer to make a purchase, is this process just as convenient?

By today’s standards, there are a ton of different ways to make payments such as cash, check, credit card, debit card, PayPal, Apple Pay, and other mobile payments.

If your company doesn’t support one (or even more) of these methods, you’re bound to lose business at some point soon.

It’s important to consider what else is involved in the payment process.

For example, are you answering these questions:

  • Do you require customers to provide identification when not using cash?
  • Is the signup process for your mobile payment system tedious and time-consuming?
  • Does your credit card reader accept the newly-implemented chip card?

When implementing modern methods of payment, make sure the rest of your payment process is simple and straightforward.

Otherwise, you may end up unintentionally making things less convenient for your customer.

4.  Communication (Instead of Promotion)

It is easy to get in touch with your target customers nowadays. The modern consumer essentially expects it from the companies they do business with.

While one-way advertisements and promotions (such as commercials and magazine ads) aren’t exactly relics of the past just yet, they certainly have taken a backseat to the more interactive forms of marketing and advertising we see today.

Content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing.

These are all two-way streets.

If you allow them to be.

In other words, it’s not enough to “set it and forget it” by publishing a blog post, scheduling a post on Facebook, or sending out an email blast.

You need to actively engage with the members of your audience that respond to these campaigns.

In this way, you’re not simply promoting your product to consumers; you’re promoting your value to individuals who need your services.

With this strategy, you tear down the walls that acts as a barrier between supplier and customer.

You forge a more authentic relationship with the people who need you most.

An earlier version of this article appeared Fieldboom’s website. The contributor was Stewart Dunlop, a content and community manager, at Fieldbloom, a software company that helps you grow your emails lists and generate more leads with forms and surveys.