The New P’s of Marketing

What every digital marketing agency needs to know about marketing theory

Anyone who has studied marketing will know about the P’s. E. Jerome McCarthy created the concept of the Marketing 4Ps back in the 1960s, since when they have been taught in marketing courses worldwide. The theory is that the ideal “Marketing Mix” should consist of a balanced combination of 4 P’s ie:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

By the late 1970’s it became clear that the Marketing Mix should be updated to incorporate products that are services rather than physical items. So in 1981 Booms & Bitner added 3 new elements – Physical Environment, Process and People – to the 4 P’s; to become the 7 P’s as shown below:

Image courtesy of

But in today’s world of digital marketing are these 7 P’s still relevant? Or do we need a new mindset altogether?

There have been various developments since the 7 P’s, two of which are of particular interest. In 1990, Robert F. Lauterborn extended the 4 P’s model with the aim of making it more consumer focussed. He created the 4C’s model:

  • Consumers
  • Costs
  • Convenience
  • Communications

At the time this did not catch on as much as the 4 P’s or 7 P’s. But hold that thought whilst we also look at the image below. Created by Tony Fish for the The Huffington Post it represents thinking by Michael Porter in 2011. The main point being made here is the necessity for a shift in marketing priorities from profit to purpose-driven awareness:

The traditional 7 P’s – on the right in the above image – are still important. They represent the bread and butter of business: ensuring that your product or service is professionally produced, packaged and promoted. But to succeed today, there needs to be the extra value added on top of the fundamentals. The distinguishing features that make you stand out from the crowd. Our recent article on Keep Your Clients Sweet explained the importance of adding value to your clients, and your marketing mix needs to set the same tone.

Adding value to existing clients – and instilling confidence in new clients that you will be able to do so – is far more important than the actual words you use to describe the process involved. However, what these two sets of words have in common is the ability to help us identify these important priorities for every marketer and digital marketing agency today. The priorities that will ensure that your marketing mix is right for your target audience and today’s digital and increasingly mobile world.

If we had to break all the above down into our own essential P’s of marketing we would probably come up with the following five:


This was mentioned above but we don’t think it goes far enough. For truly outstanding UX you and your people need to be passionate about your product or service – and your customers. You need to do everything that you can to delight them at all times. But to stand out from the rest you need to engender that same passion in your customers.

We’re not just talking about reviews here – though good reviews are brilliant to have on your website and other local and social pages. But to have passionate and involved customers interacting with your brand across all channels can really give your business the edge. So you need the right people at your end that will provide superior and consistent customer service.

But you also need to give your voluntary marketers – your customers – every opportunity to collaborate and participate: to give you time, energy and ideas – and wherever possible to take ownership. Your customers can be deeply involved in contributing to either making you hugely successful or a complete PR disaster by their passion either for or against you.


These days you need to get personal with your customers. We don’t mean those hale and hearty emails that are mass-produced but just scatter the customer’s name throughout – and just come across as cheesy. But tailored content that targets groups of customers can be incredibly effective. Our recent article How to Create a Buzz with Ephemeral Content explored the benefits of making your content very relevant and specific, even if this means having to update it on a daily basis. But you need to target and communicate with your customers in a personalised and engaging way. If you don’t, you can be sure that your competition will.


There’s a lot of truth in the old saying “If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again”. Don’t give up on existing or potential customers if they don’t respond to a particular campaign: try something else. Make sure you listen to feedback – especially as there are now so many different ways to gather this. Listen to what your customers are saying and give them what they want.

If this means that you need to tweak your product or service then so be it: don’t doggedly hold on to a set way of doing things because that’s what you’ve always done. You need to get to the stage where you are one step ahead of the consumer rather than lagging behind. You need to get into their heads and anticipate their needs even before they realise them themselves.


Pervasion is the process of being either present or perceived everywhere. For the marketer or digital marketing agency this applies not just to your ‘product or service but even more so to the visibility of your message. Our recent article Does Branding Still Matter? explored the importance of creating a more interactive, responsive and agile type of branding so that you appear at the right time in the right place.

The key consideration again is to understand your target audience. Then make sure not only that your product or service is positioned in the channel that is most accessible to that audience but also that your message is coming across loud and clear on the platforms that they are most likely to use .


We started these 5P’s with passion and it seems fitting to end with perfection. This should be your aim. You may not achieve it but another old saying to remember is “If you aim low and miss you won’t be disappointed”. So aim high! Always do the very best you can.

This applies to your product or service itself and to every aspect of your service and interaction with customers. Remember that consumers now have access to immediate communication and have increasingly high expectations of you. Don’t give them any grounds to be disappointed , and if things do go wrong make it your personal mission to resolve them fully and ensure that they do not recur.

Whichever version of the P’s of marketing floats your boat, it is essential to move with the times rather than sticking to rigid – and perhaps outdated – ways of working. By all means develop your own procedures and protocols, but always ensure that they are customer centric and able to be flexible to keep you ahead of the game rather than living in the past.