Creating Difference: The New Ps of Marketing

While traditional marketing focused on selling to the masses, today's marketers need to be creating personalized experiences for their consumers to help them along their buyer journey.

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Why Thinking Out of the
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By Alyssa Ruan

Do you remember the four Ps of marketing? Product, Place, Price and Promotion were all important tenets of marketing at the time of their creation; but that’s just the thing—they were created half a century ago.

Half a century ago, a lot of things about the business world were different. People were mailing correspondences. They were getting their news once or twice a day. There were fewer entrepreneurs muddying up the market.

Back in the 80s, Shaun Belding worked for national and international ad agencies. Things were different then. Up until about 15 years ago, marketers had real, direct control over a brand’s positioning and image. Through advertising and marketing, a company had the ability to significantly influence how customers perceived and interacted with it.

Today, Belding says the control rests directly with the customer.

“It’s not that traditional marketing is irrelevant, but the reality now is that all it takes is a single ‘United Breaks Guitars’ moment to undo millions of dollars of marketing investment,” says Belding, CEO of Belding Group of Companies and author of “The Journey to WOW.” “United Breaks Guitars” was a viral music video created to shame United Airlines about breaking a passenger’s guitar and not dealing with it appropriately. It’s what we like to call a public relations nightmare.

In her book, “Difference,” author and marketer Bernadette Jiwa describes the new Ps marketers should be using. Jiwa says marketers are creating a new framework for understanding what people want, recognizing opportunities, bringing ideas to market and doing business. The new framework enables marketers to create what needs to exist in the world.

“Creating what needs to exist” encapsulates Jiwa’s vision for this new type of business framework, which she calls The Difference Model.

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The New Ps of Marketing

Jiwa’s book pivots on the fulcrum of The Difference Model. The old Ps of marketing were created to help marketers sell to the masses, but the more personalized consumer-to-brand interactions get, the less successful mass marketing becomes.

The new Ps, as Jiwa’s Difference Model suggests, are principles, purpose, people, personal, perception and product. Product will always have a place, because without your product, what are you selling? Everything else, though, is up for discussion.

The principles, the fundamental truths you should start with, can be divided into three different categories: the truth about you/your company, the truth about the industry or the market, and the truth about the people you want to matter to.

As you can imagine, simply asking yourself these questions can already conjure some revelations about your business’s current state. Maybe you haven’t thought much about the people you want to matter to. Maybe your goals have changed and you haven’t realigned your processes accordingly.

Next, it’s important to look at your company’s purpose. This is the “why.” We know what you do, but why do you do it? The “why” needs to be specific to your company and your vision—it’s what helps set you apart from the others that do the same exact thing as you. Why should someone choose you?

The people aspect of marketing is another important pillar, and perhaps one of the most vital to Belding. The people you’re trying to reach have specific pain points, dreams, and hobbies, and you need to really hone in on those identifiers.

Belding suggests that companies “focus less on larger-scale initiatives and more on individual ones. Create a continuous series of one-on-one wins with customers. Then, let their word-of-mouth do your marketing for you.”

Reaching as many people as possible makes sense in theory, but when you’re not connecting with any specific person, you lose out to the brands that prioritize meaningful customer connections.

In addition to thinking about the people you’re marketing to, Belding says your customer service team is the other piece to the people puzzle. He recommends that businesses give their teams customer service training and broad empowerment to deal with customer service failures.

“Success today is all about people, and you need to make sure that everyone has the skills to create outstanding customer experiences,” Belding says. In 2016, research compiled by one of his companies, The Science of WOW, identified that 71 percent of the time, top-of-mind, positive word-of-mouth is created by someone taking ownership of a negative customer experience and turning it around.

Phone Woman Speaking

Stellar customer service relates to Jiwa’s next proposed P: personal. This pillar relates to how your company can change the way people feel. To the core of its meaning, this pillar gets personal. Belding offers the recent example of IKEA.

Hundreds of people were stranded following a horrific highway crash in Essex, United Kingdom. Instead of ignoring the issue, a nearby IKEA store’s management team welcomed the weary travelers, providing almost 200 people with beds in the showroom. Social media images proved it, and the Scandinavian furniture retailer enjoyed plenty of good press, though it’s obvious they did not plan for this opportunity to arise. The management simply wondered how they could help.

Belding urges marketers to look for these opportunities. “Look for ways to treat each customer the way you would treat your favorite grandmother—with care and compassion. Your customers will remember these actions for a long time.”

“True customer loyalty is relationship-based, not transactional,” Belding says. “It’s not quid-pro-quo where we only do things for customers when there is a guarantee of a return. IKEA saw an opportunity to create real connections, to go beyond transactions and demonstrate to people that they care more about customers than just their wallets.”

Lastly, as you help to mold the way people feel, the question of perception comes in. How does this customer feel about my organization? How do they see themselves, and what do they want to believe about themselves? Though sometimes marketing might feel like brand soul-searching, correctly assessing the perception of your brand on your ideal customers is paramount to your success.

“Make an effort to understand your customers’ journeys,”  Belding says. “Become one of your own customers for a couple of days and experience what they experience. It’s the customer experience that will, at the end of the day, inform your strategy and fuel your success.”

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