SlopeWhen I took my marketing degree back in 2001, part of the course was learning about the Four P’s of MarketingProduct, Price, Place and Promotion.

These terms have been the mainstay of marketing since the 1950′s, when Neil H. Borden published an article called The Concept of the Marketing Mix , although the actual phrase The Four P’s was coined by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960.

Marketers have used the Four P’s to plan marketing campaigns, measure and gauge how well something will be received. Without using at least one of the Four P’s, you can pretty much guarantee that any marketing initiative will go tits up.

Yet as much as the Four P’s are still relevant when it comes to any kind of marketing (or advertising), one of the ways I like to create marketing plans with clients is by something I call the PITS.

Persuasion

No matter how great a product or service you have, it won’t mean anything unless you can get people to buy it. Same goes for ideas – unless you get folks to buy into your ideas, they’ll fizzle out.

Not only that, but unless you have a physical product to show then you’re going to have a harder time getting that all-important buy-in (and this can be from an internal point of view as well). That’s where Persuasion comes in.

The best marketers know how to persuade people that their ideas are worth listening to. This isn’t just down to charisma and a nice suit, though – the best persuasion comes from solid information. Here’s just some that you can/should provide.

  • The unique selling point (USP) of the product or service (you better have one, otherwise just let your competitors continue winning).
  • What it means for the end user (ease of use, reliability, the “want factor”, loyalty).
  • Manageable logistics (what do I need to do and how will I have to do it).
  • Timescales and expectations (gestation period, launch period, return on investment period – and make this information realistic).

Having information that answers the questions you will be asked goes a long way to persuading your audience, whoever they may be. It’s not always money that nixes new campaigns.

Intent

Customers can usually be broken down into two camps – Consider and Intent. Those in the Consider camp will often look at a product or an advert and think, “That looks nice”, but never actually do anything else. Those in the Intent camp, however, are the ones that are more likely to move to the buying stage. The trick is to make Considers into Intents.

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How you do this depends on your business and audience, but each method you use should be one that tips the balance from Consider to Intent.

  • A strong call-to-action. This can be replying to a text SMS message for more information or signing up for a newsletter.
  • Time-urgent details. Make a close-off date for an offer and stick to it. No-one’s fooled by “this weekend only” anymore.
  • The nature of desire. Sex sells. It doesn’t need to be physical sex – turn your customer’s mind on and make them desire you.

Every single thing we do, either in life or business, is a consideration. Even automatic reflexes happen because at one stage we had to consider whether we needed to react or protect from an action. Intent, though, happens because of the after-effects of consideration.

Show your customer there’s an after-effect worth having and the intent to discover it will be there.

Traction

If you look at some of the most successful products or services, it’s for one simple reason – traction. The ability to take something new and ingrain it into the hearts and minds of customers and competitors alike is where real success lies. Traction in your customers relates to sales; traction in your competitors relates to being ahead of the game.

So how do you build traction?

  • Don’t always reinvent the wheel. It takes time, research and money to build from scratch. Can you take an existing product and add something that’s sorely missing?
  • Support networks. I use Headway (affiliate link) on this blog for two reasons. One, it’s easy to work with. Two, it has a great support network, so if I have a question I can call on other users to help me. This has led to the Headway developers selling more than $250,000 in product in less than a year – not too shabby, eh?
  • Open your gates. One of the most successful video games of all time is Half-Life. Released in 1998, it’s a first-person shooter with a great storyline too. But what set Half-Life apart is the level builder that developers Valve released, allowing gamers to build their own levels and share across the web, leading to a thriving product years after the first shipment. Adaptability is key to any success.
  • A solid engine room. The iPod isn’t the success it is because of design or geek love – it’s because of iTunes. No matter what system you have, iTunes just works – allowing it to change with you as your product preference changes too. It’s the iTunes engine room that makes the front-end so sexy.

Gaining traction is one of the Holy Grail’s of any business. How to get it should be one of your priorities in the planning stage.

Sketchability

When I was a kid growing up in the U.K., one of my favourite TV shows was by a guy called Tony Hart. Hart was an artist who took the scholastic approach to art and turned it on its head, allowing anyone to use any product and sketch something cool.

The great thing about Hart’s art was its ability to be changed on the fly and made into something completely different. It’s this sketchability – the ability to sketch an idea and then have the option to erase/amend and sketch a new approach – that turns a good marketing plan into a much better one.

Give everyone a pencil. Too many marketing plans silo themselves from other company inputs. But real insight can come from many places.

  • Customer service could offer great insights on frustration factors;
  • Distribution on realistic budgets and scale;
  • IT on network stability and how your site will handle extra traffic; and so on.

Simply put, give everyone a pencil and see what pictures get drawn.

I’m a huge fan of the Four P’s of Marketing. I know they work; I’ve used them for years. But I also know you need to adapt and have more than just the existing to compete in any market.

The PITS is one of these adaptations. How about you?

Creative Commons License photo credit: ohad*
Creative Commons License photo credit: KhayaL

Note: This blog no longer runs on the Headway framework. Instead, it’s a custom WordPress design by Lisa Kalandjian of SceneStealer Graphics.

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