Since the 1960’s, marketing theory has enthused about the 4 Ps, and any student, graduate, or practitioner will have cut their marketing teeth on the mantra of Product, Price, Place and Promotion. But in the Internet age, we are encouraged to think conversation, not marketing, and engaging not broadcasting. So how relevant are traditional models to fashion and creative micro-businesses’ digital marketing strategies?
In 2009, Brian Fetherstonhaugh[i] authored a call-to-arms article for advertising giant Ogilvy and Mather consigning the 4 Ps to the past, to ‘fantasy’. The era of marketing as king, and audience as ‘obedient’ is ‘shattered’. Fetherstonhaugh declares: “consumers have seized control”.
He adds, “The new ecosystem is millions and billions of unstructured one-to-one and peer-to-peer conversations”. He proposes it’s time for a new framework and toolkit – replacing the 4 Ps and embracing the 4 Es is the future: Experience, Everyplace, Exchange and Evangelism.
Similarly, Lon Safko’s fantastic Social Media Bible outlines current theory on engaging consumers today. He cites Communication, Collaboration, Education and Entertainment as necessary approaches in digital marketing – get them talking with you, working with you, listening to your values, and having fun. Engaged consumers are happy consumers.
So far, so large-scale multi-national. But how does inspired theory work in practice if you are a time and resource-strapped fashion or creative start-up?
A recent social media seminar I attended with Adrian Swinscoe[ii] explored some current online thinking for micro-businesses: Create, Curate, Community, Converse and Context. Could new, micro-business friendly marketing theory – and practice – be the 5 Cs?
Adrian outlined the approach. Create only content that is helpful and relevant to your customers or audiences on the platforms that they use. Curate other people’s relevant content and share and comment on this. Build a community, and take part in other communities, where these issues matter. Converse with your customers, listen and respond, be visible to them. And, importantly, wrap all this in the context that that connects you to your customer. Remember that people want to buy from people, so keep the human touch within the 5 Cs.
In time-saving practice, I would also add to re-use and adapt existing words, images and video that are appropriate to your audiences and platforms. Build your community and network from scratch by regularly re-posting, commenting on, sharing, re-tweeting other relevant content to increase your own followers and visibility. Keep your social media platforms up-to-date and provide quick responses: start out small with whatever is manageable, test what works, and keep it up. And always think about the ‘why’ of what you are doing. Ask yourself: Does this reach my customer? Do they want to see or hear this? Will it get them to buy/to share/to recommend? Is it saying the right thing about me and my brand? Manage this in 15 minutes a day or one half day a week – keep it simple, put it in your diary and stick to it.
So from Ps to Es to Cs. The theory and practice of how we and where we do our marketing may be continually evolving, but our intentions remain the same. We will always ultimately be selling products – or services – to people, obedient or not.
If you have any questions after reading this post, or would like me to work with you on your creative business, then please do get in touch. You can either email me at email@example.com or drop a comment on the blog.