Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Time to give Marketing's 5th P it's due

In 1960, Jerome McCarthy invented the 4 P’s of Marketing.

Product. Price. Promotion and Place.

They were made famous by Philip Kotler in his book 'Principles of Marketing' in 1967 and is worshiped as a Bible, for many marketers across the world even today.

But in the world of marketing today, the consumer sits in the cockpit, and not on the backseat. Audiences are broken into fragments and slices in excel sheets of rows and columns that don’t print on a single A4 sheet. (Even in landscape mode)

Products have turned into experiences.
Prices have changed to bargains, deals and value.
Product promotions have moved online, offline, below the line, above the line, in circles, squares, triangles and every possible smart art shape you can imagine.

The new ecosystem is millions and billions of unstructured one-to-one interactions leading to previews, reviews and overviews, sometimes even before the brand in launched.

Loyalty is a fantasy, and survival is no more simply Darwin.

This means that many of the tools and assumptions we grew up with are no longer valid on their own, and newer tactics need to be added to a marketing plan.

In this environment, one humble 'P' has always been used, to get spikes in sales and many a times changed brand image, helped it earn an advertising award, and create connect with the consumer, but not given his fair due.

I say, enough of this step-brotherly treatment and it’s time this little P is given his due, and his rightful place in the great hall of ‘P’ame... I mean Fame.

Bugles please. Drum rolls.
The much awaited entry of...
The P that helped us achieve targets with clever thinking...
The P that spoke to the hearts of our customers...
The P that won Gold at Cannes (and still didn’t get credit)...
Inducting in the great 4 of P’s of Marketing...
Presenting the 5th P
(Ok, after all that hype, I’m sure you were expecting something earth shattering. Something that made you think, Oh My God!. But it wasn’t like that. Right?)

But here is my case on why 'Promptness' is my nominee for the 5th P.

Promptness means, being on time, carried out or performed without delay, to move to act on spur, to assist with a reminder.

Promptness is the reaction of the marketing team to capitalize on an event, or a current happening. Like a breaking news, a sudden occasion. 

Like a win of its home soccer team, a unexpected success of its brand’s ambassador, a reaction to a move by the government, a quick answer to a possible challenge, a retort to a competitors move.

Promptness is all about being street smart and quick to react.
It’s those smart moves that wins awards, spikes sales and conquers hearts.

Promptness is when BPL Mobile reacted to Orange Mobile’s entry in the Indian market by publishing a advertisement, saying ‘Welcome Orange’ and an image of a fruit juicer.

Promptness is when Surf Excel appears on the cover page of a news daily, with a Green Tshirt hanging on the clothes line, saying Dho Dala, immediately the next day after India defeats Pakistan in a cricket match.

Promptness is when Las Vegas’ Casino congratulates the Royal Family on it's latest family member with a invitation to the newcomer after 21 years.

Promptness is when Durex wished all the mothers of their winning Football Team, and thanking them in media, for not using their products.

Promptness is when Orange Mobile printed names of their loyal customers on the newspaper front page, along with the regular advertisement, personalizing the message. 

And it’s not just great brands, with great budgets that can do this only.
Even a simple action can get that mileage with the right thinking.

After the 26/11 episode in Mumbai Taj Attack. The city was enraged. There was an unsettled feeling in each one of us. We wanted to be heard. The common man wanted a platform for him to voice his feelings.

A huge candle march protest was organised outside the Gateway of India a week later, which was attended by many, including the rich and famous of Mumbai. In that crowd there stood a young man, with an A3 printout, holding it as high as he could.

The poster had an image of colorful Bangles and said...
“A gift from the people of Mumbai, to the politicians of the world”

The next day, a chain mail was making the rounds in people inbox's, of images from the parade.

That day, my phone didn’t stop ringing, my mailbox was flooded, and my SMS’s inbox exceeded its limit.

People who I had remotely met in life also called or forwarded the mail to me, to confirm if that was me, holding the poster with the bangles. I confirmed their doubt sheepishly, and after seeing the overwhelming response,  I secretly feared that I am going to get a threat call too.

Luckily I didn’t.

It was a prompt idea. Designed in 5 minutes and printed on my office printer.
Cost: Rs. 5.
Media buying budget: None
Eyeballs: Every proud Indian.

That’s Promptness. 

It’s nothing new. 

We have been doing it all the time.

By being opportunists. Dance pe Chance. Bouncer pe Sixer. Mauka pe Chauka.

Being prompt, by saying the right thing to the girl at the right time and right place, and seeing her blush, giving you a clear indication, that you got her attention.

Some might argue, that this theory could be a branch of Promotion, and I would agree and disagree on a few points. 

Promotion has three benefits:
To present information.
To increase demand.
To differentiate a product.

But Promptness is a blend of promotion and place too with a relevant purpose to be there, and not just push information. It talks directly to the consumers, with perfect timing, while they are more receptive.

It creates talking points like as if it were their own creation, or personalized to them directly. It not always talking about the product benefit, but it pursues them to stay loyal to their brand. 

Sometimes, it doesn't even have a reason to present any information about the brand and it's benefits. You won't see too many promotions being retweeted, liked, forwarded on social networks, but a act of promptness goes all the way up. 

Its because today's generation lives in the now, its all about getting those likes, posts and status updates and repins.

I guess lets accept this new P in the family, and give it,the much deserved due.

The 5 P’s: Product. Promotion. Price. Place and Promptness.
I agree that it doesn’t have the same zing sound as the others, but has far better zing when practiced with precision.

Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Kotler, this humble student, rests his case.

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