The 4 P’s of Marketing Are Dead

And No One Is Weeping

Success in marketing and advertising today requires a new framework. A new way to Think about your business and Think about your customers, Engage with them in more direct ways which will enable you to Thrive.

Think, Engage, Thrive Marketing.

Building a marketing plan around people, places, prices, and promotions is old thinking. It comes from an age when we had no real consumer data. A lot of conjecture and survey results.

We now live in an unprecedented age of information. Between analytic products like Google Analytics, Adwords Keyword Planner, and Google Trends, you can gain a deep understanding of your customer. We can find out what they like, love, desire and despise. We know their behavior and their problems.

As I discuss what Think, Engage, Thrive means, I want to be clear that these are not distinct phases you work through one at a time. They’re part of a continuous, repeating cycle. Whether you’re looking to establish a new brand, a new business or to break through barriers that have held back a company, you’ll need to Think, Engage, Thrive both serially and simultaneously to achieve your goal.

Think about Customers

Keywords don’t just tell us about what the customer is searching for. They give us insight into what problem the customer is trying to solve. Your company has a solution that meets the customer’s need. To translate that solution into sales, we need to communicate the features and benefits of your product to the customer.

Effectively solving this depends on knowing who your customers are, what they love, and how to connect with them.

The best way to know your customer and effectively market to them is to build a buyer persona.

What is a Buyer Persona?

A buyer persona is the creation of a semi-fictional character compiled by the data of your average customer.

Imagine you sell sporting goods online. Your research tells you that your core customer is a male college graduate, age 22–34 years old and a rising corporate manager. His average income is $62,000, and he lives in an urban area. He is active in amateur sports like baseball and basketball, frequents the gym four times a week. He is single and uses social media to stay in touch with friends and family.

Through this information, you can create a person named David. It is possible to determine David’s goals, challenges, values, interests, and fears. You can create an avatar of David that reflects what David might look like. 
 
Using this method, rather than creating content and ads for a 22–34-year-old male, you are now marketing to David. This now serves as your buyer persona. As you build ads and marketing plans, you can build them to speak to the type of clothes David might wear, or sneakers he may like.

Although David is a fictional character, he is based on your actual customer traits. This methodology deepens the understanding a business has of its customer. Therefore, the content created will generate better engagement.

Thinking about your customer in this way, helps you to get a deeper understanding of who they are. Knowing your customer on a deeper level is the key to success.

Engage With Where They Are & What They Love

Knowing who the customer is and what they love gives you a clear path to ENGAGE. Maybe this is through ad messages on social media, maybe it’s print or TV. Follow the data to find out what’s the most effective. Customers don’t like to be hard sold. They don’t want you in their face yelling, “Buy this now!” That’s why so many brands fail on digital marketing & social media. What customers like is learning about the benefits of your products that meet their needs.

When you engage, you connect with a customer emotionally, educating them on a solution to their problem. It’s a win both for the business and for the customer.

One of the best examples of a company that engages with customers is Apple. They understand that if you do a good job educating customers, they’ll stick with you for life. That’s why they created the Apple Store — not to sell a product, but to connect with people.

Loyalty comes from Engaging with your customers. Loyalty creates retention and retention is what makes a brand Thrive.

Let me talk about myself for a minute. I’m a coffee fanatic. Every day I drive to Dunkin’ Donuts. The folks at my local shop know me. As soon as I pull up, they get an extra large decaf, no sugar, ready to put in my hand. That’s the kind of service that elevates a product to the next level. Like the rest of America, I like Starbucks. I like their quality and their attention to detail. The service and consistency of the brand are top notch. But I can’t drink twelve tall decafs from Starbucks. Never mind the money, who’s got that kind of time? The lines are killer. But I can drink twelve Dunkies a day. The product and the way it’s sold connects with my needs. The service at my local puts it over the top. I’m so engaged with Dunkin’.

Thrive, Grow, Repeat

Once you nail the emotional connection between problem and solution, your business will Thrive. Don’t think of this as the end of the cycle, though. I call Thrive a destination, but unless you’re getting buried there, every destination is the start of a new journey. When your business thrives, it’s time to think back on where you’ve been and look forward to where you’re going. The customers are happy. You’ve made some sales. How do you take that to the next level?

In business, you either grow or shrink. Like a shark, a company can’t breathe if it’s standing still. When you thrive, your business gains resources that you can reinvest. Reinvestment lets you scale the business up to the next level. So many companies make the mistake of scaling their infrastructure without thinking about add-ons or packages that will enhance their brand. There’s no point to making more of the same old gizmos if all they’re going to do is sit in the gizmo warehouse.

Once you begin to thrive, the first investment you need to make is in your next marketing campaign. Call it Newton’s Law of Marketing: An object that sells okay keeps selling okay until acted on by new customers. How are you going to bring those new customers in?

Seeing a marketing campaign make a business blowup is the biggest thrill I know. Some years ago, I was on a business trip way out of town when I was frustrated to find I’d forgotten my razor. I went to a store thinking I could pick one up, but the prices pushed me from frustrated to angry. Paying $36 for a pack of a national brand was a rip-off! I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I decided to disrupt the market. It took longer than I would have liked to research the razor industry, work out the logistics of the company that came to be called 800Razors.com, and lock down investment. But the splash we made was worth it.

At the time, LA Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson was one of the biggest names in baseball. Fans liked his fastball, but most people tuned in for his epic beard. He’d been growing it for three years when I got the idea to offer him $1 million to shave it off with one of my razors.

People have asked me if I was serious, if the company really would have paid. Absolutely. The buzz that stunt generated on social media and in the blogosphere was worth seven figures, easy. Making the offer gave the company a big bump, and we got another when Wilson refused. We were able to ride that publicity to a couple hundred thousand subscribers and an investment and promotional deal with Michael Phelps.

Competition got pretty stiff in the online shaving club game, but I was able to sell the company with no regrets. Thinking about customers, who happened to be guys like me who were sick of steep prices, had helped us engage and thrive.

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