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It’s Time to Add a 5th ‘P’ to the 4 Ps of Marketing. (Participation)

Studying the 4 Ps of Marketing in the school library.

The 4 Ps of Marketing need an update for the Digital Age—participation is now more relevant than ever.

Ahh, “the 4 Ps of Marketing”. Nothing quite takes me back to my undergraduate studies like that sweet, comforting phrase. Looking back, it seems somewhat naive to have thought that everything I would need to know about marketing could be summed up in just 4 Ps, as if it were as easy as A-B-C.

I honestly don’t remember much from the marketing classes that I took in college. All that remains in my memory are hazy recollections of late-night study sessions, dry 2-hour long lectures, and that warm sensation your body gets as you’re starting to fall asleep. It was rare to find a professor that was engaging and encouraged students to participate in the conversation. This unfortunate scenario made it even easier to doze off. The course material and classes were boring, overly conceptual, and didn’t really teach me much about how marketing was being conducted in today’s world.

However, thanks to the power of strong coffee and energy drinks, I eventually made it through and got to where I am today—a hopeless caffeine addict.

How to stay awake in Marketing class.

During my studies, I always thought it was strange to learn about such a cutting-edge field by reading the 8th edition of a book originally written in 2001. To put things in context: our textbook was written in the pre-TSA era, when you didn’t have to wait for hours in line at the airport security and feel like a criminal for wanting to board a flight to JFK, LAX, or O’Hare.

Sure, I memorized lots of great abbreviations like SEO, SEM, CRM, PPC, and the likes, but we never got in-depth with these topics as a class. However, if there’s one thing that was ingrained in my mind during my studies, it’s the 4 Ps of Marketing

OK, class. Let’s review:

#1: Product – You want to make money? Join the human race. Now, go create something people will pay for. For this example, I’m going to sell artisanal lemonade.

#2: Place– Where am I going to sell this delicious, organic, artisanal lemonade that’s been handcrafted and fresh squeezed from select, locally-sourced lemons from the Italian countryside of Sorrento? Somewhere with lots of trendy, upscale restaurants and pricey cafés, most likely.

#3: Price – $10 a glass, I guess? That sounds about right to me.

#4: Promotion – How do I brand myself, what kind of buyer persona am I targeting, and what methods of promotion will I use? I’m going to target young, affluent inhabitants of Portland who enjoy quality beverages and ascribe to an upper-class lifestyle. I’ll make my lemonade appear unique, exclusive, and unattainable to the masses. Maybe I could have some kind of invite-only, taste testing events and use word-of-mouth to start a buzz about my product around the city.

I drank Artisanal Sorrentino Lemonade before it was cool.

Now that we’ve reviewed the original 4 Ps of Marketing, I’d like to introduce you to the 5th ‘P’ that you may not have learned in class (or don’t remember). It’s called Participation.

#5: Participation – Here’s where we arrive in uncharted territory. You’re not going to find any dusty, old textbooks teaching you about Participation, but it’s absolutely vital to your marketing campaign’s success. Studies actually show that as people get more involved in an activity and commit to one small decision, it’s harder to turn back.

For a marketing example, the following video from Moz shows you how encouraging visitors to participate in the comments section of your blog can increase conversions:

If a small group of people were to show up to the taste testing event for my artisanal lemonade, I would be able to easily convert them into potential customers by inviting them to taste different flavors, pick up the bottle, listen to our unique process of brewing the lemonade and the origin of our ingredients, etc.

In educational theory, learners are often split up into groups, such as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. While we may process information more easily through certain media than others, I am a firm believer that everyone is an experiential learner—we learn by doing. Take my days in college, for example. I learned more in the classes in which my professors sparked conversations and encouraged participation than in the ones that didn’t.

Let’s go back to the context of marketing. The more involved your target market, the more likely they are to remember your product and make a future purchase. Even as a marketer, I can be a sucker for this type of strategy. When I go to the grocery store, there are always sales reps handing out samples for new food products. Even if I’m not interested initially, I end up thinking twice about making a purchase once I taste those delicious, new potato chips, or whatever product it may be.

Using passive marketing (e.g. placing ads on a website) just aren’t enough to get people to buy anymore. You have to get their attention, create a call to action, and encourage them to participate. Once they’ve taken the bait, it’s just a matter of setting the hook and reeling them in.

Practically speaking, how do you encourage people to participate and how do you separate yourself from the horde of popup ads and CTA’s out there? You have to leverage your humanity. What do I mean by this? In a world in which everything has gone digital, we still crave genuine relationships and interaction with one another. Adding a personal touch to your marketing material and seeking to establish a connection with your target market is essential to standing out among the automated marketing  and social media campaigns. This strategy is called H2H (Human-to-human) marketing

Tell your target market a little bit about yourself, invite them to start a conversation with you or participate, and show them that you care. One of the most effective ways of showing someone you care is setting apart your valuable time for them.

If you want a truly outstanding example of H2H, schedule a meeting with Corey and see how the human element can make all the difference in your B2B marketing.

About the Author Michael Edgar

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