Anyone that took a marketing class in college was taught about the 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, place, promotion). And although the fundamental concepts are still valid, they just seem too out-of-date to teach without a lot of interpretation or translation for modern times. So I’d like to propose an update while sticking with the same letter “P” so we can still call it the “4 P’s of Marketing”.
My 4 P’s of modern-day marketing are Persona, Purpose, Phase, Program. Let’s explore each in a little detail while also observing how they interact with each other in a synergistic way.
We always want to refine our messaging to speak to a specific persona and usually it’s the persona of the buyer. I say “usually” because B2B companies that sell to large enterprises often have complex evaluation and purchasing processes that involve more than just the decision maker (see related article titled “Intro to Enterprise Sales“).
You’ll find many buyer persona templates online, so I won’t try to recreate that here. Instead I’ll just cover a few important concepts. I love HubSpot’s definition of a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer”.
There’s no single approach to defining this persona but the list below includes the most common attributes I take into consideration. What’s important is to figure out which attributes specifically relate to the problem you solve and/or your overall value proposition. In other words, don’t fill your buyer persona template with a bunch of unnecessary information.
- Company information (size, industry, etc) – for B2B business models
- Geographic information
- Job role / title – for B2B business models
- Demographic info (age, gender, income, etc)
- Problems and challenges
- Personality traits
Where do you get the information needed to complete a persona profile? Well, hopefully you’re already using all of your senses and available resources to gather information about your target market and target customer(s).
Below are most common methods for gathering this information and realize the hard part is deciding what to do with the information you’ve collected. If you don’t have a marketing professional on staff, get some help from a marketing-experienced advisor or seek help from a marketing freelancer or agency. (see related article titled “Why Isn’t a Marketing Professional One of Your First 10 Employees?“)
- Web forms
- Market research reports
- Competitors’ websites
- Customer surveys
- Social media listening
- Sales team feedback (from both wins and losses)
The final result of your work could be a snazzy, formatted persona profile that gives a name to the persona and clearly characterizes his or her key persona-related attributes. Click the image to the right for an example but realize you don’t need to get near this in depth or fancy. What’s important is going through the exercise and using this information for your messaging and other marketing-related actions described in this article.
What are you trying to accomplish at the moment? Perhaps you’re desperate for more top-of-funnel leads. Or maybe you’ve got plenty of raw and unqualified leads but they aren’t moving through the evaluation and decision process fast as needed to yield the desired business results. Another common dilemma is sending a bunch of leads to the sales team that you feel are qualified, only to hear back that they aren’t and now you need to figure out how to improve lead quality.
Note: It is most common when thinking about Purpose to concentrate on either volume, velocity or quality.
Once you are clear on what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s the perfect time to think about metrics and analytics. At the end of your effort you’re going to need to know if what you did had the desired effect. Which metrics will you need to evaluate in order to answer that question? In fact, always follow these steps:
- Predict the results you will achieve
- Track the necessary metrics
- Analyze the results
- Refine based on what you learned
- Repeat again from step #1 – assuming you have similar objectives and either previously had success or feel like you will with the identified refinement
It is critical that you understand the different needs of your buyer as they move through their own buying journey. From your side as the solution provider we call it the “customer acquisition lifecycle” and every customer goes through it, regardless of business model. If you offer a mobile app with free trial, the whole journey for the buyer might take 5 minutes via self-service (no human interaction). If you sell million dollar solutions to the US federal government it might take 12-24 months with tons of hand-holding. See the graphic below to understand better what I’m talking about.
Discover – Your ideal prospect finds you via any number of means, including online search (browser or app store), advertising, social media posts, shows or events, etc, etc.
Consider – They consume the information and content you’ve created to help understand what it is that you offer and why it is valuable to them and how it is better than the alternatives.
Decision – Using the information they’ve consumed, they make a yes/no/postpone decision.
Transact – If all works out the way you hope, they will ultimate buy your product.
Understanding, or predicting, where your target persona is in the customer acquisition lifecycle allows you to refine your messaging to best assist with the objectives of that phase. In other words, a buyer in the early part of the Consideration phase isn’t ready to read a technical white paper or dive into a deep competitive comparison.
How do you know which phase they are in? Well, their actions should tell you. If they are only looking at your home page for the first time, they are probably very early in the Consideration phase but if they moved to your Solution page and just completed a form to attend your upcoming webinar, they are moving into the middle of the Consideration phase. Once they get to your Pricing page or are digesting competitive comparison content, they are approaching a Decision.
With the introduction of digital marketing we now have numerous different types of programs or integrated campaigns we can run to accomplish a stated objective. But you should not even think about the type of program or amount to spend until you’ve thought through the other “P’s” above. Understanding the persona, phase and purpose should dramatically narrow down the choices of programs you can run.
Try a quick exercise for your own company. Below is a scenario. What type of marketing programs can you imagine being successful for your ideal customer (buyer persona)?
- Purpose: You’re getting lots of website visitors but they are mostly just hanging out on your home page and hardly any are moving to the other pages where you have more information on your solution and are also promoting a free trial offer.
- Phase: You predict these visitors are in the early consideration phase.
(DON’T READ FURTHER BEFORE THINKING THIS THROUGH A BIT)
Since I don’t know anything about your company, I can’t answer the question with any degree of certainty but I can give a couple of ideas to consider.
If the prospect is in the early stage of the consideration cycle, they might not have enough motivation or interest to dive deep into your solution page or download a free trial. In fact, if they’re quickly bouncing after getting to those more detailed pages of your site, it suggests you asking too much of them. You need to fill that gap with something that does motivate them to dive deeper. Here’s an idea:
Short explainer video – Videos are easy to consume but the key for this particular purpose is to keep it SHORT. You’re possibly going to want to tell your whole story but the objective here is to just tell enough to generate sufficient interest to nudge them to your more detailed content and messaging. 60-90 seconds it typically perfect and with easy-to-consume messaging (specific but high-level) and content (graphics, etc).
See related article titled “10 Ways to Improve Website Conversion Rates“
Wanna try another one?
- Purpose: Your website visitors are moving to your Solution page but they aren’t signing up for your upcoming webinar or clicking to download a free trial.
- Phase: You predict these visitors are in the mid consideration phase.
(DON’T READ FURTHER BEFORE THINKING THIS THROUGH A BIT)
These prospects aren’t willing to let you know who they are and aren’t quite convinced they should take the extra time and effort to attend your webinar or download your free trial.
Web chat campaign – Possibly the best way to nudge them towards your desired actions is to offer to answer any questions via web chat. It allows them to remain anonymous and buyers are often comfortable engaging in web chat dialog because with one click of the mouse they can escape. This approach is often ideal for solutions that aren’t easy to understand and it also might just uncover some misunderstandings based on your current messaging. What questions are they asking via web chat? What objections do they have? Very insightful feedback.
I had to initially stick with 4 P’s because that’s what is in all of the marketing text books and is probably the most anyone can easily memorize. But I do have some other P’s that I think are important to effective marketing:
- Platform – I’m really referring to the most valuable system in the marketing function, the marketing automation platform. The online and digital aspects of marketing are now so analytical and process-oriented that such a system is critical. It will help you achieve a well-oiled machine and provide hugely valuable intelligence to the business overall (see related article titled “Optimizing Demand Generation Through Portfolio Theory“)
- Pricing – This is a carryover from the original 4 P’s and is still critical to success. In the past it mostly just related to the pricing strategy but now it also relates to how to best depict the pricing online, especially if you have multiple offerings (including free trials or freemium offers).
- Performance – With modern day marketing and utilizing a marketing automation platform and other operational systems (ie – CRM), you must have a focus on outcomes and not just activities. Adopt a culture of repeated refinement via analytics and systems.
We can pull all of this together with 4 simple questions that correlate to the new 4 P’s:
- Who are we targeting?
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- Which phase of the journey is our prospect in?
- Which program(s) should we run?