Are the 4 Ps of Marketing Relevant in a Digital World?

The rise of the online world and rapid ascension of digital marketing has been impressive. There’s no doubt that digital marketing strategies are just as important now and in many cases more so than traditional marketing. The problem is, we can’t risk becoming too enamored with the digital world and success in that space so much that we lose sight of the importance of practicing time-tested marketing principles.

I came across a blog post today from a very influential marketing and PR blogger that suggested the 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, promotion and place) represented an outdated concept that will lead to failure on the web. The argument put forth is that a 4 P focus will inevitably cause a brand to look inward and lead to an unsound digital marketing strategy. This isn’t an isolated opinion. The calls to abandon traditional marketing, and in this case the 4 Ps of marketing, are all over the web. Resist the urge to believe and follow these calls.

Here’s what will happen to your product (or service) if you abandon consideration of the 4 Ps of marketing:

  • Product – Your product will be irrelevant. You won’t have considered what the needs of your market are and take steps to meet those needs with tangible benefits. If you don’t do this, your competitors will and thereby capture market share.
  • Price – You will risk the perception that your product doesn’t provide enough value for the cost. On the other end, pricing too low can diminish your brand value and raise quality concerns in the minds of consumers.
  • Promotion – You will miss opportunities in more traditional marketing channels to reach your market. Strive for balance and a versatile marketing program that recognizes that not everyone is influenced by a single marketing channel.
  • Place – Your product won’t be available to the right people or as many people. You will select channels of distribution that are inappropriate for your product and that hurt sales. It could also be difficult or inconvenient to purchase your product.

Without considering these very important marketing factors, most products and services stand no chance. These are key fundamentals that will always continue to need to be addressed. No amount of online engagement, content creation or social media savvy will cover for deficiencies in the 4 Ps. I would even say that our digital world makes it more imperative that these areas are well thought out.

Digital marketing is unique, and certainly should be managed differently than traditional marketing. It would be disastrous, however, to allow that reality to move us away from sound marketing practices. Instead of the 4 Ps or digital, let’s get both right.

Let me know how you feel about it.

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