The first thing they teach you in Marketing School is the “4 Ps of Marketing,” an old mnemonic device to help you remember the four components of marketing.
Product, price, promotion, and place (or as my old professor called it, “pdistribution.”)
Almost as old as marketing itself, the idea of the 4 Ps has been drilled into students’ heads for generations. For the most part, it’s held up as a tool for defining and understanding how the basics of marketing work.
But now, are we seeing the end of the 4 Ps? Author Pamela Danziger seems to think so, at least for luxury brands. She wrote in a recent blog post that the 4 Ps of marketing have been replaced by the 4 Es, and that luxury brands best take note.
Are the 4 Ps truly dead? We’re not sure about that, but this new model makes some excellent points that apply not merely to luxury brands; but rather, to virtually any building product.
What are the 4 Es, and how do they apply to you?
Experience (replaces Product)
This is the big one. It’s been said that customer experience is the new marketing, or that customer experience is the product. We touched on that in a previous blog post.
Digital brands know this all too well. For them, the customer’s experience with their app or software truly is the product, and if their UX (as it called in this channel) is no good, they have nothing. For luxury brands, the user experience must be gracious, rewarding, and uncompromising.
For building products, it’s more complicated. The customer experience starts with research and shopping, extends through a usually long buying cycle, to the purchase… and to living with the product for a period of years, or even decades.
Along the way, there are multiple touch points, through digital channels and magazines as well as through contractors, specifiers and retailers. Sometimes the product is only recognized by the contractor — and in those cases — the end-user’s influence is limited.
What is your customer experience like? Starting with the buying process and extending through ownership: are there any parts that are less than ideal, confusing, or even unpleasant? Are you controlling, or at least influencing, the way people experience your brand at every touch-point in the buying journey?
Everyplace (replaces Place)
Today, audiences have more choices than they ever did. Choices in the way they shop, buy and consume products. Choices of where and how they get information. Choices to skip or turn off ads.
Your customers may experience your brand in any number of ways. Through your web site, through social media, through contractors, through broadcast media, through YouTube… as well as through dealers, showrooms and even supply house counters. In fact, would it surprise you that one of the highest visibility ad spaces is the top of the contractor bar stools there?
Are they receiving a superior customer experience at all points? Are you providing the information and attention they need, in a way that provides the value they want? Are you everyplace the customer might look for help and guidance?
If not, they’ll find someone who is.
Exchange (replaces Price)
In building products, price will always be a factor… but it should never be solely determining. For too many brands, it merely means a race to the bottom.
Which of course, is not good for anyone. In order to avoid getting into a price race, building products manufacturers should think about what their customers get in exchange for the price… beyond the product itself. This will vary depending on whether the primary customer is the end user or the contractor.
For homeowners, of course they’ll want to know they’re getting a great product for the premium price they’re paying. But they want something more.
This is an area of untapped potential for many building products marketers — especially those whose products aren’t “sexy.” The idea of “living spaces” is a highly emotional concept. How are you playing into that? How are you showing that your product enhances the notion of space and suitability… while maintaining vital authenticity?
Alternatively, what is something else special about your products or brand that audiences “get” in exchange for purchasing their products? Are they helping to support your sustainability initiatives? Are they getting the passion and dedication of your forward-facing troops?
Customers want to feel connected to the purchases they make. Are you telling the right stories to help them make that connection?
For trade customers, what they get in exchange might be very different. They might be looking for the backing of a great brand to help them stand out. Or they might be getting the tools and knowhow to run a successful business, like instant financing approval and extended warranties.
And perhaps most important, buyers are rapidly beginning to demand that they receive “value” BEFORE purchase. Not after.
Whatever it is, you should understand what’s compelling to your customers and help them value what they get in exchange for buying your products and remaining loyal.
Evangelism (replaces Promotion)
This is the one that has dramatically and irreversibly changed in the last ten years. Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising, but never before could one person’s voice reach the entire world.
Your customers become apostles for your product and your brand… when you master the other three Es. If their customer experience was great — if you were everyplace they needed you to be — and if they felt that they got value in exchange for their purchase, they’ll become your strongest sales influencer.
To a certain extent, this is out of your hands and in your customers’. But you certainly can help the process along.
Are you providing the tools and channels to make it easier for them to evangelize? Are you communicating with them through the entire buyer’s journey, solidifying their intent to influence?
Are you celebrating your customers and telling their stories in innovative, brand promise-promoting project profiles? Are you giving prospects deeper reasons to feel good about buying your products? Are you a positive reflection to them?
Because here’s the thing: they’re going to tell the world no matter what. It’s up to you (at least partially) to ensure what they have to say is positive.