The Marketing Mix (commonly referred to as "The 4Ps of Marketing") was first developed by E. J. McCarthy in 1964 and quickly became the conceptual model of the elements of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
Years later, this Marketing Mix was expanded to include three additional elements — People, Psychology, and Positioning — to become The 7 P’s of Marketing:
Product: What is the product (service, or offering) that we are selling?
Price: What is the price of our product, service, or offering?
Place: Where will we sell this product, service, or offering?
Promotion: What kind of promotions will we use to sell our product, service, or offering?
People: Who are our customers and how can we acquire more customers like them?
Psychology: How can we use advertising and marketing to connect with our audience?
Positioning: How do we compare to and differentiate ourselves from the competition?
Although the Marketing Mix was adaptive, its scope was limited; it was not able to predict sweeping changes to marketplaces and ecosystems.
For example, the Marketing Mix could not forecast such changes to the landscape as technological advances, digital businesses models, complex and long-tail customer relationship management, omni-channel consumer journeys, and the intricacies of the many ways in which branding impacts high-cognitive connections, purchase decisions, and customer loyalty. The model could not have predicted today’s Information Age, in which people are increasingly able to self-educate, to compare/contrast different factors in competition, and to interact with multiple channels on their own terms.
The Marketing Mix was internally-focused, looking only at a company’s own practices and perceptions, ignoring external competition, which often lead to improper positioning and unintended consequences in the marketplace. It’s time to change the focus of the marketing mix from internal, to external — to a Customer-Centric point of view.
Moving to a Customer-Centric Marketing Mix
When companies, businesses, services, and brands function from their own point of view, they often assume customers will understand the offerings or experience as they do themselves.
No matter what your offering or service is, you're bound to think it's great because you fully understand how it works and the benefits it provides. But users/customers know little or nothing about your experience and can't make the same connections about it that you can.
Customers do not have the same familiarity with a product or service as its provider, and will react differently to the product, service, experience, or messaging. When trying to sell the features of a product or service, sellers often make the customer do all the work of figuring out why they want the feature. It's in a seller's best interest to draw those connections for the customers.
To change the way you approach things, you need to change the way you frame them. To change the way you frame things, you need to change the way you view them.
It is therefore increasingly important to help establish customer-centric connections. But to do that, you, as the seller, marketer, or advertiser, have to know what those connections might be:
Why should the customer want a particular feature of a product, service, or experience?
The Customer-Centric Marketing Mix
From the very beginning of the process, the Customer-Centric Marketing Mix addresses the question, "What's in it for the user/customer?"
Each focal point of the Customer-Centric Marketing Mix provides the user/customer with increased value or increased perceived value.
The Customer-Centric Core:
Customers have become more selective in their purchasing decisions because they can be – with the rapid expansion of options and markets, customers are in control. Winning brands, products, services, or offerings are those that have built a relationship with their customers along their journey and have created an ideal user//customer experience. Ask yourself:
Are we focusing all our efforts and decisions on the user/customer experience? What can we do to gain a better understanding of what our users and customers are looking for?
With customers at the core, you can re-frame the traditional Marketing Mix from internal, with a focus on the business, to outward-looking, focused on the Customer-Centric Experience:
From Product to Value:
The total value (both perceived and received value) that the product or experience delivers should be the focus of a customer-centric approach. Compete on the value you provide; even when products and services offered by competitors are similar, the value can be drastically different.
How do our users and customer perceive the overall value they receive from our product, service, or offering? How can we increase both the intrinsic and received value to our users and customers?
From price to economics:
Economics should be viewed as everything given by the user/customer as a form of exchange, including time, effort, and transactional cost. Focus on all aspects of the economic exchange; price can be relative to perceived and received value.
What are all the elements of the economic exchange that our users/customers go through to acquire and use our product, service, or offering? What can we do to eliminate roadblocks, remove hurdles, and reduce friction in the transaction process?
From promotion to communication:
Communications include all messaging, imagery, assets, creative, and information that are shared with an audience. Compete with communication: How do your users/customers need to be spoken to? What are they looking for in their journey? How can you better convey your message while establishing a connection?
How can we entice and anticipate the wants, needs, and desires of our audience to communicate with them from their point of view? How do our customers think and feel, and how can we establish better communication and rapport with them?
From place to availability:
Availability helps decrease the friction throughout the economic exchange process. It's important to understand consumers' expectations of where/when/how the product, service, offering, or experience will be available and accessible. Focus on the availability you can provide; consumers now demand immediacy, accessibility, and availability.
How, when, and where do our customers expect our product, service, or offering to be available and accessible to them? How can we better meet our customers on their terms?
From psychology to connection:
By leveraging consumer psychology, behavioral economics, and strategic messaging, you can build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with customers. Figuring out what will initially attract people to your product or service is just a critical first step; you must also understand how to connect with them on a deeper level, based on where they are in their journey, and on their short-, mid-, and long-term needs. Use different consumer lenses, personas, and mental models to understand how your audience thinks, feels, and perceives to establish a connection with your audience.
How can we establish a connection with people so that our product, service, or offering remains top of mind? What type of mental models, personas, and customer segments will help us establish a higher-cognitive connection with our users?
From positioning to perception:
Focus on how your audience perceives your product, brand, service, or offering and how you can use that perception to your advantage. Audience perception spans across an entire brand. For example, if your brand is perceived as trustworthy, that perception will extend across all other arms of your business and experience. Focus on how your audience and customers perceive your experience, service, or offering.
How do our users and customers perceive our product, service, brand, or offering? What can we do to enhance the perception of the overall experience to increase the perceived value?
re-framing creates new questions and new insight
By re-framing the Marketing Mix to be more Customer-Centric, you can immediately change the focal point from the business to the customer. The way problems are framed dictates how they are interpreted, which influences how they are approached and solved. As some of the re-framed sample questions above demonstrate, new questions bring new perspectives, which lead to new answers — answers that are closer to the customer’s point of view, that help you understand the customer’s journey, and that are entirely Customer-Centric.
Create everything through the eyes of the customer, not solely through the lens of the brand, service, or business.
When we change our focus from what the marketer experiences to what the customer experiences and align our products and messaging with our customers, we are able to establish connections that lead to increased demand, sales, and brand loyalty at all stages of the customer journey.
“In the age of the customer, executives don’t decide how customer-centric their companies are — customers do.”
- Kate Leggett