Have the 4Ps been supplanted by the emergence of customer-centric trends? How have the marketing and sales funnels been changed by digital technology?
For most of the 20th Century, the 4Ps model of product, price, promotion, and place was the predominant marketing strategy. It made total sense for marketers whose main task was to reach their target audience without having any direct communication channels or ones that provided useful feedback. Radio, television, and print media were the predominant marketing channels where 20th-century buyers learned about trends, events, news, services, and products. Nowadays, with digital media, video companies and social networking, how have things changed?
The Advent of Customer-Centricity
Bob Lauterborn wrote an article in 1990 that was published in Advertising Age that argued that the 4Ps were day (QUERY: UNSURE OF MEANING “dated”??) and that actual issues needed to be addressed by modern marketers. Lauterborn was right: Developed markets at that time were starting to become increasingly competitive, with customers becoming more choosy, increasingly knowledgeable, and less likely to react in a positive way to anything pushed on them.
Corporations and brands started realising that incorporating customers in a more sincere way with their product development and services was a critical aspect of developing a business that provided viability for the long and medium-term.
The 4Cs model, in contrast to the 4Ps, evolved to represent marketing strategy better. As indicated by the model, customers these days are at the very heart of modern marketing communications, which is oriented around their buying habits, their needs, and the end results of what they are actually looking for in the “total product offer” as well as the amount of money they are willing to pay.
The Funnel is Being Changed by Digital
A marketing funnel describes the customer flow coming into your organisation. It refers to the customer’s journey going from being a “suspect” (a potential customer who is not familiar with your organisation and someone you do not have a connection with currently), through to being a “prospect” (a person who is aware of your products now) to a sales lead and then finally a customer.
Today’s Customer Journey
Most people (both customers and suppliers) still do not fully appreciate or understand the extent to which the customer journey really has changed over the past 15 years.
For example, consider yesterday’s customer journeys of gambler, gamer, and holidaymaker:
In recent times, short-listing, making comparisons, and purchasing a holiday involved taking several trips to visit a local travel agent.
Until recently, purchasing the most recent video games involved becoming friendly with a specialist at a local computer game store.
Gambling moved quickly into a very fierce competitive battle online among the betting brands who were looking to lure in gamblers who search the web seeking out the best combination of perks and odds.
The internet has irrevocably changed these and 99% of other forms of customer journeys.
It is clear the direction that travel is headed towards: Customers have an increasing amount of control over the product research phase. That is why it is becoming increasingly critical that brands and suppliers know how to respond to these changes.
Today, the concept of customers being in control of the research and comparison stages of their buying journey is widely accepted. However, when suppliers or brands ask themselves the honest question, just a minority can really claim they have completely re-engineered all of their “top of the funnel” marketing effort that reflects this continuously evolving and new reality.
Sales vs. Marketing
Marketing people have traditionally run away from being held responsible for sales. How can marketers be expected to get valuable brand experiences created for customers if they need to worry about ROI constantly?
Out in the real world, both honestly have a point: There is an enduring value to human creativity (even when it is measured by a commercial yardstick called ROI). However, in many industries digital has driven marketing and sales to be so close that they are often parts of an indivisible whole now. (Only 15 years ago this concept would have been considered to be blasphemous in certain economic sectors.)
Marketers Generate Sales Leads
As digital continues to push the influence of customers further down into the funnel, the convergence of marketing and sales continues.
In e-commerce business as well as many others, the direct objective is revenue. Sales conversion and lead generation presuppose brand awareness and also that lead generation activities are already optimised. This activity is often a lot harder to measure.