The Four Ps of Social Marketing

July 21, 2009 at 4:30 pm 5 comments

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve heard people refer to the 4 Ps of the marketing mix;  Product, Pricing, Placement and Promotion.  Developed in the early 1960s by Professor Neil Borden while at the Harvard Business School, the four Ps has long been regarded as the critical checklist for companies when assuring all key facets of a marketing plan are properly aligned.

While the importance of these elements cannot be denied, it is also fair to say that the need to address these factors has become second nature for most experienced marketing folks.  But the quadruple P acronym is too good to waste.  There are some great thinkers in our business, whose work, when looked at in total leads me to believe that we need a new fundamental checklist.  Why not create The New 4Ps?

So here are four elements of the marketing communication that while critical, are certainly not second nature for most of us.  Introducing The New 4 Ps of Social Marketing;  Purpose, Peers, Primal and Provide.

Purpose⎯Great brands are those that are driven by a clear, defining sense of purpose.  Purpose-driven brands approach business with a passion and focus that guides interactions with customers.  Mark Earls wrote quite a bit about purpose-driven brands in his very thoughtful and inspiring book, Welcome to the Creative Age.  Well worth checking out.

Peers⎯Peer-to-peer communications have always been a fundamental part of human behavior.  Our beliefs and habits are influenced by communities and social networks.  Consumption habits are no exception.  With the emergence of online social media tools and platforms, marketers today must consider peer group affiliations as much as individual target profiles when developing a communications plan.  Props to Mark Earls once again, as this is something he has written about in fascinating detail in his book, Herd.

Primal⎯Beyond rational and the emotional, there are fundamental drivers of behavior I like to think of as primal motivations.  Understanding primal motivations means breaking the code behind learned behavior:  Why do people do what they do?  Closely tied to fundamental needs like survival and reproduction, primal motivations are shaped by our environment, culture and the people around us.  How your product or brand fulfills a primal motivation is often the key insight for developing compelling stories that people want to hear about.  French psychologist Clotaire Rapaille has written extensively about this sort of mental processing in his book, The Culture Code.

Provide⎯Brands must add value when engaging communities and social networks.  And adding value starts in the earliest stages of the planning/creative process.  Start by asking “What if”?  What if we were more useful to our customers?  More relevant? More supportive?  More interesting?  Brands that find a way to provide something worthwhile to people will not be looked at like party crashers.  Along these lines, Adrian Ho of Zeus Jones has articulated some great ideas around the notion of marketing-as-a-service.

I’ll address each of these areas individually over the next few weeks.  Till then, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on the 4Ps of Social Marketing.


Entry filed under: 21st Century Brands, New Economy, Planning, Smart Growth, Social Media Process. Tags: , , , .

The Magic ‘If’ Purpose Guides Us Through Change

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gretchen Shinoda  |  July 21, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Fun to stretch the ideas to an addition 4Ps. I am getting into this Social Networking thing for IUJ and am excited to read your series of articles. I am going to send this over to our MBA dean who willl be very interested.


    Gretchen @ IUJ

  • 2. links for 2009-07-28 « Francis Anderson  |  July 29, 2009 at 1:02 am

    […] The Four Ps of Social Marketing The quadruple P acronym is too good to waste. There are some great thinkers in our business, whose work, when looked at in total leads me to believe that we need a new fundamental checklist. Why not create The New 4Ps? Purpose, Peers, Primal and Provide. (tags: marketing socialmedia) […]

  • 3. Social Media: Four Ps, EyeTracking « Francis Anderson  |  August 5, 2009 at 2:35 am

    […] 4, 2009 The Four Ps of Social Marketing The quadruple P acronym is too good to waste. There are some great thinkers in our business, whose […]

  • 4. niko  |  September 3, 2009 at 11:10 am

    nice flip on the 4’s.

    I had some a while back as well.. let me know what you think of them.

  • 5. jrvitalis  |  February 22, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Interesting post. For another take on the Four P’s (as they apply to parenting) check out
    Stop Pinching Your Sister! (Practical Parenting Tips Based on My Columbia MBA).


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