Thursday, January 31, 2013
4 Ps of Marketing, Product, Place, Pricing, and Promotion represented a dated perspective of customers and markets. In an era of connected consumerism, one could argue the merits of any of “Ps” and whether or not they’re still relevant.
Truth be told, there are many words that can find their way into this discussion. I’m sure we can find words that begin with the same consonant. But we now live in an era where customers are more connected, informed, and empowered, and as a result, their expectations amplify and modify. To adapt, new pillars are needed whether or not they start with the letter P. Rather than run through the dictionary,
People as the 5th P
In a social economy, it’s practically absurd that this requires explanation. People should be or should have been at the center of everything. It’s been argued though that people are already at the core of each of the existing 4 P’s.
If we measure actions rather than intentions, it’s easy to overlook the importance of people in the mix. See, for the most part people are largely lumped into market segments, spoken to as audiences, and serviced as tickets. Honestly, we can do better. We must do better.
Understanding the needs and expectations of people inspires an important element often missing in day-to-day business strategy…empathy. It is empathy after all that unlocks ambition to do something that goes beyond the ordinary. It offers clarity to help see beyond routine roadmaps and reports. Empathy also channels aspiration to help teams strive to always do better. The result? Businesses will possess the means to develop more meaningful products and services as well as the procure confidence and resources to truly engage customers to build thriving communities.
Once you feel, really feel what people experience and what it is they need or do not know to need, innovation follows. And this is a time for innovation as people and how they connect, discover, communicate and share, is evolving. Technology continues to influence behavior and as behavior shifts, decision-making, preferences, expectations, and influence also progress. Understanding and appreciating people, and the individuals that make up our markets, teaches us how to in turn become more human…especially at a time when brands are becoming people and people are becoming brands.
At the end of the day, we are the very people we are trying to reach. You, me and the scores of people like us form the 5th P.
Purpose as the 6th P
When you work in the business of change, you eventually notice that regardless of the technology you adopt or the trends you pursue, one of the key things that’s often missing is a sense of direction or aspiration. I’m not referring to a common vision or mission statement though. Actions for the most part speak louder than words. Here, motive, objective, and resolve are paramount and they’re manifested in the leadership and its decrees to bring about real change.
I spend my time in the throes of digital transformation and as you can imagine, there’s a great deal of politics, emotion, and anxiety at work. In many cases, efforts to lead change are done so in the absence of bearing or alignment. Steps are taken simply because that’s what is supposed to happen not because a course was defined. As such, existing processes, philosophies and communications channels sometimes work against the quest to pursue the 5th and 6th P. In order to unite teams and decision makers around a common vision, that vision must be defined and it must resonate.
I’ve done my fair share of developing business transformation initiatives and seeing them through for longer than I care to count. Part of that work involves helping executives visualize and vocalize the future of customer engagement and experiences and translate this new direction as a matter of purpose. It’s imperative that this edict and the mission come from the top. For without it, change is stunted. It’s at this very point where I often see the difference between management and leadership rear its true colors. The reality is that not every executive is a leader. But like empathy, leadership is also a fundamental pillar in articulating a vision for transformation. Someone must rise to the occasion.
It’s not easy of course. It takes courage to see what others can’t and do what others cannot or won’t. You’re setting out to shock and reshape your company’s culture and to do so takes leadership, vision, and alignment to bring about sustainable change.
Start by asking and answering a few important questions:
1. What does are business stand for and what does it mean to a shifting consumer landscape now and five or ten years from now?
2. How does evolution in customer behavior and expectations affect our current business priorities and investments?
3. What are the challenges that hold back the organization from pursuing our existing and emerging goals?
4. What initiatives are underway within the organization that we can plug into, align, or reassign to pursue transformation?
5. What does the future of exemplary relationships with people (employees and customers) look like and what it is we want them to do, feel, share, and love about us?
The world is quite different from the early days of eBay and Amazon. Reports and analysis from the past few years have all been pointing to the fact that commerce is being driven less and less by advertising, professional reviews and other biased sources of commercial messaging.This wreacks havoc on our traditional efforts because, as marketers, we now have less power and influence over our markets.
Our beautifully crafted messaging and creatives are becoming less impactful in this connected marketplace of ours. Reports keep validating that we tend to lack trust in commercial entities and if anything has validated this human behavior, it is the social web. In the world of $4 million dollar tv ad spots, this becomes a very hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, it still needs to be part of the overall marketing strategy but needs to be adjusted to accommodate the user behaviors of today.
Weber Shandwick and KRC research recently conducted a survey involving around 2000 consumers that outlines that peer reviews and social recommendations have grown beyond just friends advising each other on the new purchases.
Some of the findings include:
- 65% of consumers have bought a product they weren’t intending to buy after reading a positive review;
- 74% of consumers search for reviews online before making a decision;
- Consumers read an average 11 reviews before making a decision;
- Peer reviews are trusted by more consumers (77%) than professional ones (23%);
As Danny Brown states, “These figures, and some of the other ones in the full report, should act as a wake-up call to brands that are still investing in the traditional method of product review – buy advertorial or pitch the mass media – and ignoring search and social graph impact“.
In addition, let’s not ignore the fact that 70% of all content online is user generated. It also ranks higher than static corporate pages by search engines and trusted more by the average consumeras well. In 2013, all go-to-market planning and comms planning should be focused on strategically leveraging the potential of this medium.
And doing it right requires experience and understanding the context of the medium. Otherwise you end up with facebook and twitter accounts without any real social presence. Don’t believe me? Have a look at this hilarious Facebook Page of Corporate Social gone wrong.
Let’s avoid doing social in a pure check list manner. Mere likes and follows don’t translate to actual business. Time for experimentation is over.