If you pursued a marketing degree in the last fifty years, you’re probably more than passingly familiar with The Five P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, and People.
They’re the traditional pieces of the marketing puzzle that, when put together, should reveal your go-to-market strategy by answering the questions: What am I selling?, Where am I selling it?, How should I price it?, How should I sell it?, and Who’s going to buy it?
The problem is, the old P’s are passé for today’s digital-native marketers.
So let’s throw out those old marketing playbooks and propose five new P’s for digitally savvy brands.
You can think of them as a future foundation for P’s, love, and buyer understanding…
P is for Personalized
Customer buying behavior has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. In the past, products were personalized only insofar as a brand might have a particular type of person in mind when they developed the product.
Consumers would then pick whichever product best met their needs. But today’s consumers aren’t looking so much for the best combination of quality, features, and price as they are for personalized buying experiences.
They expect brands to know who they are as an individual, not a demographic statistic: what drives their choices, what they value, what they’ve bought in the past, and what they’ll need or want in the future.
This new expectation of personalization is a lot bigger than the segmentation of the past, which was largely marketing by proxy. In those cases, marketers would look for new customers who looked like their old customers based on age, income, region, and other demographic data.
Today the most successful brands are those that use their data to gain insights into why customers buy their products or services: Are they driven by certain values, beliefs, trends, or maybe even a fear of missing out (FOMO) on the next big thing?
Marketers who can answer those questions of motivation and intent can unlock the individual behind the identity and deliver highly personalized experiences that create greater customer loyalty and, ultimately, customer lifetime value.
P is for Pervasive
Multichannel marketing was originally about convenience, but now it’s about connecting experiences through an omnichannel relationship. Marketers need to align and synthesize customer experiences across all their touchpoints including online, in-store, and mobile, in order to keep customers better engaged with their brand.
Omnichannel engagements also generate more and richer customer data that can be used to personalize and optimize experiences. Creating these kinds of pervasive experiences can be a challenge for marketers as they look to engage customers across channels.
For example, a customer calling into a contact center from their smartphone might be encouraged to download a mobile app, or an online customer might be presented with an in-store offer the next time they visit a website.
The more ways that brands can connect with a customer and tie those connections together into a seamless relationship, the more likely a customer will stay engaged with that brand over time.
P is for Present
What sounds like good advice for married couples is also good advice for marketers: Be present in the relationship and empathetic. In other words, understand that customer needs change over time and listen for those changes.
This is one of those areas where traditional customer segmentation proves to be tone-deaf by depersonalizing data. The customer journey isn’t a straight, flat road. People change jobs, change goals and, within the span of a year, can go from changing cross-country bike tires to changing diapers.
Being present, of course, requires real-time data. This can be problematic in a world where customers are increasingly guarded about how much data they share and with whom.
You can’t expect customers to check off a box that says “Yes, we’re having a baby!” in their online shopping cart. But this is where good listening pays off.
If your database is tracking things like the types of articles and products that a customer is clicking on, you can get a much clearer picture of what’s relevant to them—and what’s not relevant to them—and make meaningful content and product recommendations while they’re still browsing your site or store.
P is for Proprietary
First it was data warehouses, then data lakes; now it’s all about data moats. These are proprietary pools of first-party data that have become the new competitive advantage for the uber-marketers such as Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify.
Although a moat doesn’t imply movement, this is anything but stagnant data. Data moats are constantly being updated and enriched to create deeper customer insights and discover new buying affinities.
The rising interest in data moats is being driven by two important factors: the growing adoption of customer data platforms (CDPs), which excel at storing and creating value from this kind of data, and the shrinking field of third-party data in the wake of new privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA.
As pools of third-party demographic and customer data dry up, brands are literally scrambling to fill these information gaps by generating, owning, and analyzing their customer data.
P is for Predictive
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become buzzwords for just about everything from marketing to making tacos. (I’m hoping an intelligent taco-making machine is in our future.) Where AI and ML have the potential to truly impact marketing is in the area of predictive insights.
In a strange way, machines hold the key to more personalized and empathetic relationships with customers due to sheer efficiency.
By analyzing data affinities and recent user behavior, brands can predict the next, best experience for each customer, whether that means pointing them to a specific piece of online content or sending a coupon to their smartphone.
The human brain of a customer service agent can’t possibly access all that historical information and make relevant recommendations in such a quick time frame.
The successful brands of tomorrow will, in a very real sense, be the brands that can predict their own success.
They’ll understand not only what drives the motivation and decision-making of each customer, but also which decision they’re likely to make next, and project those decisions over time to establish an accurate view of customer lifetime value.
This view, in turn, can inform ad spend to ensure that marketers are making the right investments with finite funds.
The Missing P’s: Technology
Marketing has come a long way from educated guesses to AI-driven insights. In fact, it may be enough to make you wish you’d studied something simpler in school, like biomedical engineering.
But as the field of marketing has become more scientific, the science of marketing technology has also evolved.
Twenty years ago, a brand might have had three or four customer personas. Today, they may have three million personas, one for each customer. Technology is the key that has unlocked this new potential.
The old P’s? They’re a thing of the past. Products have become digital downloads, prices are now subscriptions, places are a moving target, and promotions are commonplace. As for people, well, it turns out we’re just getting to know them.
James McDermott is co-founder and CEO of Lytics. James was previously CEO of Storycode, a mobile software company acquired by Postano and vice president, business development at Webtrends, an analytics and optimization company.