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The 4 Ps: Are they irrelevant?

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by: Will Schnabel (@wschnabel)
29 March 2007

I was reading an interesting article in 1to1 Magazine (Jan/Feb 2007 edition) a few days ago.  I’m a little behind on my reading because things are busy here in the office, but this particular one-pager really caught my attention.  It was talking about the traditional 4 Ps (product, price, place and promotion) and whether they are relevant in today’s fast-paced, customer-driven business landscape.  Several industry leaders’ opinions were highlighted and I think the most overarching view was customers move business now and that the company-centric 4 Ps are somewhat outdated, if not completely extinct.  James Vila (Senior Director of Carlson 1to1 and Principal of Peppers & Rogers Group) commented that companies still need to create a product, determine how much it’ll cost, distribute it and communicate its value.  However, he said there are so many nuances on that traditional mix that the 4 Ps don’t make as much sense as they used to before the internet and the fragmentation of communication channels.  Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, made a really pertinent observation:  customers want an “aggregate,” personalized experience.  Basically, customers want to hear your message in various ways at a time that is convenient for them.  Greenberg proposed that it should be the 5 Cs (contextual, connected, collaborative, creative and content-driven) rather than the 4 Ps. 

Maybe the 4 Ps are still important in understanding how marketers can compartmentalize their tactical tasks (especially when dividing projects amongst a team) but other than that, a more encompassing strategy is needed.  And it has to focus on the customer, because the customer controls the relationship now.  And because I work in the marketing automation industry and am biased towards SaaS, I thought about these concepts in relation to on-demand marketing automation service providers.  We provide our B2B customers with a way to take those 4 Ps or 5 Cs (or whatever the next marketing process theory will be), and put them into action.  And that’s what allows marketers to impact their company and drive sales. 

You can read the complete interviews at, if you are already signed up on 1to1.  If not, go to 




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