Add a Living Element to the Marketing Mix

Marketing Mix | The 4Ps
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Jacob George
Financial Consultant, India

Add a Living Element to the Marketing Mix

Ask any MBA student on the fundamentals of marketing and he will tell you about the 4Ps, Product, Price, Place and Promotion. As you know it was expanded to 7Ps, 11 Ps and so on … an endless list! But for simplicity we shall confine our discussions here to the traditional 4 Ps. We shall start with a hypothetical case that Jack faced.

--- The Dilemma that Jack Faced ---
Jack, from his childhood on wanted to make money and earn a name for him. He saw his academics as a means for that. Chasing this dream, he was bright in his studies as a child. After completing his primary education he opted for business education as he saw that as a route to his goal. Completing his undergraduate course he wanted to do his masters at the premier college in the country. Though the entry was tough, Jack gained admission. Now came his last hurdle in academics. Jack wanted to pass his MBA with flying colors (Editor: ~cum laude, with honours). Jack worked hard from day one on. He knew very well that he was not too far away from making his dream a reality. His hard work finally paid off! He was the best student in his batch and as a result he was hired as brand manager in the dream company he wished. Jack was happy since he had achieved his dream. But then came the real test.
In his role as brand manager. Jack was given the responsibility of launching a new brand product in a new market. His colleagues were very confident of him being successful as he was a well known superstar during his academics. Jack also was confident of making it big, since he knew he only had to apply the theories learnt in this practical case. He recalled his marketing classes. Crack the 4 Ps , the fundamentals and you are sure to succeed!
Product, Price Place and Promotion the 4 Ps. So, he began his work. He created a very good product, gave it a good price, made it available and gave it a good visibility.
But things didn't work out the way Jack planned and the product failed miserably in the market. It failed to deliver the desired results. He nor Jack's friends could believe it. He flopped.
That night Jack couldn't sleep well. He rolled on his bed trying to catch some sleep. The thought of his failure kept him awake. True, he was a superhero during his studies. But when it mattered he had failed in his first assignment. All his dreams lay shattered. The thought of him being labeled a flopper haunted him. What went wrong? He had really implemented all that he studied. But something was not right. Failures often teach you more than your success. What should be his take from this incident? Jack began thinking in this way and childhood lessons came to his rescue...
Classification between living things and non living things... The 4Ps of marketing... Look at them. All belong to one category. Non living things. Only a living thing can control a non living thing. Take the 4 Ps. They are super heroes themselves or individually. But can they work collectively? Is there any lubrication between them so that they can work towards the organizational goals. Can they work as a team? Jack could not sleep. Had he missed a major P which he failed to crack?

--- The missing link ---
Indeed the 4Ps are individual super stars. But when it comes to a collective or collaborative effort, they fail miserably. The traditional view of marketing is that the 4Ps are enough for a company’s success. The 4Ps form four quadrants. But there seems no interaction between them to attain a given set of goals/objectives. A link seems missing. Yes, the Ps can work towards something and you need them all, but which is the P which coordinates them and ensures their smooth functioning? Have a look at them. The 4Ps. Is there an element of redundancy in them? There seems to be something missing.
A missing link. Something which makes them collaborate. An additional P. Such extra P would coordinate all of them and ensure they work in unison. Well, what would fit there and must satisfy the condition of being a living thing. It can only be People. The major P. People ensure the smooth functioning of all other Ps. Was that the P Jack missed – the missing link? Could this 5th P be at the centre and all other 4 Ps around it in 4 quadrants? It ensures interaction between the other Ps (4Ps) and also it provides a two way link between all the others.

--- What should Jack have done? ---
Jack failed here. To crack the major P, it needs to be addressed before any other P is cracked! He understood that he failed here. His studies failed to teach him that the 4 Ps are not enough, there should be 5 indeed. Jack rolled on his bed. Did he discover something new? Failure teaches a thousand lessons, It helped him identify something lacking. Jack now had a good sleep. The next morning he woke up with tenfold strength to proclaim to the whole world as if he had discovered something new!

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