Beware the 4Ps in marketing

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Beware the 4Ps in marketing
The Chinese have mastered the game of price management.

Dubai - These pitfalls can result in an enormous wastage of resources and failure

By Vikram Krishna

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Published: Wed 15 Jun 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 16 Jun 2016, 12:06 AM

We have all studied that marketing is the magic mix that blends product, place, price and promotion. Our management books dwell deep on how marketing managers can create winning businesses by developing an understanding and orchestration of the marketing mix.
For instance, the Chinese have mastered the game of management of price. Apple and Google are terrific examples in recent times of businesses that developed incomparable products that have created enormous value for their respective organisations. Giants of the fast-moving consumer goods sector have long been masters of distribution (place) and the promotion game - a visit to your nearest hypermarket will open your eyes to how clever product placement in shelves as well as enticing promotions can influence your buying behaviour.
However, what is often not discussed are the four pitfalls - the alter-ego avatars of the original 4Ps - that may result in an enormous wastage of resources. The cost of failure can be staggering and there are many academic studies on this topic with varying conclusions. But across the board, we have seen that less than 40 per cent of products launched survive more than three years. Hence, the core question is what are the pitfalls that lead to this reality?
Promise
Over-promise and under-delivery are classic traps that many marketing efforts fall into. How often do we come across products that we bought with huge expectations, but within no time, we face a disappointing outcome? Sometimes brilliant advertising campaigns do grave injustice to "me too" business propositions. The explosive growth of online reviews in the last few years has enabled every customer's voice to reach out to millions. Bad reviews cause irreparable damage to business; ask any successful hospitality company the attention they pay nowadays to TripAdvisor.
Another common gap is the belief that the product is so attractive that customers will automatically be drawn to it. Unfortunately, people do need to be made aware about how interesting your product or service is and focused marketing interventions help people make a choice in your favour. Silence is not always golden.
Be aware of the perceived value of your product or service and take care in structuring your proposition so it delivers a sustainable promise. Sometimes marketeers fall in love with their products and brands and get blinded in their misguided belief that their products are so superior that customers would love them at any time, any price.
Patience
I have this belief that sometimes marketeers get bored of brands faster than consumers - and that's not good business. Also, with the plethora of channels available to reach out to customers one needs to try out several alternative strategies before honing on the one that works best. This requires consumer understanding, the ability to experiment with alternatives and patiently wading through customer and sales data to find that thread of connect.
In the business of marketing, there is no substitute for painstaking research and patiently adapting the marketing strategy to evolving consumer, competition and marketplace realities.
Performance
As a wise person once said, "it's okay to make mistakes, so long as you learn from them". If you're not tracking, there's no way to learn from your mistakes and improve. Heck, there's no way to even know if you made a mistake. That is truly a waste of a marketing budget.
In recent years, thanks to shrinking margins and flat revenue lines on the back of comatose global GDP growth rates, marketing budgets have come under an incredible amount of scrutiny and debate. The need to measure the performance of marketing spends has become a rally cry. With digital marketing it is now possible to measure every outcome. Successful marketing organisations have performance marketing and analytics teams that help marketing managers fine tune their choices and become much more prudent in the way they spend.
People
Like every business, marketing is all about people. A successful marketing organisation is powered by a multi-skilled marketing team, supported by a passionate ecosystem of like-minded partners. Marketing is no more a one-man show. The alpha personality culture is a thing of the past. The pace of change in marketing has reached a level that one needs to arm the marketing team with the right level of executive empowerment and an organisation culture that flourishes on grass root decision making.
I have always believed that great brands are built on the foundation stone of consistency which is a result of an empowered team that believes in the brand.
There are no rules for success or failure in marketing, but you are likely to be in a better place if you keep your promises, build an excellent marketing organisation, have a strong performance culture and patiently mine the opportunities that may then come your way.
The writer is head of group marketing and customer experience at Emirates NBD. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.


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