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Piling on to the Marketing Mix… How many P’s is too Many?

The poor, poor Marketing Mix

marketing mix

E. Jerome McCarthy

The Marketing Mix is a concept established in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy while he was on a Ford Foundation Fellowship at Harvard Business School and MIT.

While the term marketing mix had been in use since the 40’s, it was McCarthy who distilled it to the four P’s.

In case you haven’t studied the four P’s of the marketing mix, they are: Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. That is to say, having the right product in front of the right people, at the right place and the right price-point. Seems kind of obvious, right? Surprisingly, it was a game-changer in the 60’s.

These days, due to the changing nature of business and, perhaps more importantly, the changing of consumers and technology. we’ve added so many P’s to McCarthy’s original idea that it’s starting to look like clowns in a Volkswagen.

And Then There Were Seven

By the 80’s, McCarthy’s 4 P’s were found to come up lacking, particularly with regard to service-based businesses. So three more P’s were officially added to the little clown car. When I say “officially”, I mean it. The subject was, in fact, the core discussion topic at the very first American Marketing Association conference.

Note, the AMA takes its P’s seriously.

So what did the AMA decide to add to the marketing mix? Physical Evidence, People and Process.

At this point, I’m going to take the lazy way out and let Wikipedia do the explaining for me:

Physical evidence refers to the non-human elements of the service encounter, including equipment, furniture and facilities. It may also refer to the more abstract components of the environment in which the service encounter occurs including interior design, colour schemes and layout. Some physical evidence elements provide lasting proof that the service has occurred, such as souvenirs, mementos, invoices and other livery of artifacts.

People are essential in the marketing of any product or service. Personnel stand for the service. In the professional, financial or hospitality service industry, people are not producers, but rather the products themselves. When people are the product, they impact public perception of an organization as much as any tangible consumer goods. From a marketing management perspective, it is important to ensure that employees represent the company in alignment with broader messaging strategies.

Process refers a “the set of activities that results in delivery of the product benefits”. A process could be a sequential order of tasks that an employee undertakes as a part of their job. It can represent sequential steps taken by a number of various employees while attempting to complete a task.

And The Hits Just Keep Coming…

There was a time, way back in the dark ages (up until about the mid 90’s) when thought leaders wrote books. Along comes the internet and everyone has the opportunity to become a thought leader. So why not add more P’s?

Here are some of the others I found in a cursory search:

  • Packaging – the box that contains a physical product
  • Payment – the psychological effect of payment terms
  • Philosophy – the ethos of the company
  • Personalization – using browsing and purchase history to offer suggestions
  • Participation – allowing the customers to dictate the future direction of the company
  • Peer-to-peer – brand engagement in user forums and networks
  • Predictive Modeling – utilizing algorithms to quantify data
  • Privacy – respecting people’s concerns for anonimity
  • Personal networks – concerning social media

It just goes on and an. This guy has an article defining 44 P’s. 44!!!!

ARGHHH! Make it Stop

With so many voices in the conversation, and an ever-changing media landscape, the once-revered Marketing Mix has become more of a Marketing Minefield.

You’re busy running a business. It’s hard enough to figure out the 4 P’s, much less 44.

What to do?

Simplify your life with one P:


Or, to put a finer point on it, Partner with Opus Marketplace. When you do, three more P’s will fall into place:

  • Partner
  • Profit
  • Prosperity
  • Play

How’s that for four P’s you can really get behind?

How’s it work?

When you partner with Opus, we take care of the P’s and you get to focus on your core craft, the thing you went into business to do, whatever it may be. We handle the advertising, media,  social, PPC, all of it. Even payment processing and scheduling. You show up, do your thing, and the rising tide raises all ships.

Why is it called “partnering” as opposed to “hiring”? Because we work directly with you to help shape your approach to business, your product offerings, your positioning, your personal connection to what’s meaningful to you in business and life.

And, unlike a traditional marketing company, you don’t have to put us on a fat retainer. We get paid when you get paid. Seriously.

In the development period of our partnership, we provide all of our development services at cost – we make no profit from it whatsoever. t’s only when the campaign(s) go live, and we bring you paying customers, that we get paid for what we do.

When’s the last time you heard a marketing company say that?

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