The Real 5 P’s of Marketing

Article by C.J. HaydenIn 1960, E. Jerome McCarthy introduced the 4 P’s of Marketing as a way to describe the mix of factors required to successfully market a product. McCarthy labeled the 4 P’s as Product, Price, Place (distribution), and Promotion. The idea was that if you could identify the right combination of these elements, your marketing would succeed. Since then, many have proposed that there are really 5 P’s, suggesting Positioning, Packaging, or People as additions to the mix.

For professionals, consultants, coaches, and freelancers marketing their own services, I don’t find that the classic 4 P’s provide much guidance in making the right choices about marketing. Here is a different sort of 5 P’s for the typical independent professional, who is both the product and the one marketing it at the same time.

1. People
In order to market effectively, people are an essential part of the equation. Some marketing experts have suggested that the “people” component represents the people who deliver the service you are marketing — a critical factor for a service business.
But I think there are two other types of people important to your marketing: the people you are marketing to, and the people who help you spread the word about your business.

To make realistic decisions about marketing, you need to have a clear definition of your target market and understand their needs. Only then can you know who you should be delivering your marketing messages to, and what you need to communicate. With a solid definition of your target market and a well-defined message in hand, you can reach out directly to the people who might become your clients, and ask other people to pass your message along to those they know.

2. Positioning
Your marketplace is crowded with competitors, and your prospects are besieged with marketing messages. For your message to find its way through all this noise, it must be exactly on target. In any professional field, it’s not enough to simply describe what you do. You must be able to tell your prospects exactly how your work helps them solve problems and reach goals, and the benefits and results they can expect to see from it.

What this targeted messaging requires is that you become very specific about not only who your offer is for, but what it will help them do, and why your solution is the right one for them. You must position your business in the mind of your prospective clients as the best possible choice for exactly what they need.

Broadcasting a muddy or generic marketing message won’t be enough. Your clients need to understand “what’s in it for me?”

3. Personal credibility
A professional service isn’t like a pie or a pair of shoes. It can’t be tasted or tried on before the customer decides to buy. Clients are wary — and justifiably so — of committing to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on something they haven’t been able to experience in advance. Without tangible evidence to go by, they base their decision on how much they trust you. A significant portion of your marketing activities should be aimed at increasing your personal credibility.

Writing articles, giving talks, media interviews, and volunteering in your professional association or community will all contribute to your credibility. But one of the best ways to build trust is also the simplest. Allow clients to get to know you better before pushing for a sale. Casual phone or email conversations, having lunch or coffee, meeting at business or social events, and connecting at networking meetings will contribute to the know, like, and trust factor that makes people buy.

4. Push plus pull
In the classic marketing formula, the emphasis was on promotion — pushing your message out to the world at large. But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to include attraction — pulling toward you exactly those clients you want.

For an independent professional, push-style marketing includes cold calling, unsolicited mail or email, paid advertising (online and off), promotional events like trade shows, and some forms of PR, like blasting out press releases.

Pull marketing, on the other hand, is focused on building affinity and connections. To attract clients in your niche, you might develop referral partnerships, become visible at networking events, network with prospects and colleagues online, get booked as a public speaker, have your articles published, land media interviews, or build a content-rich website. You’ll find it much easier to make a sale when clients contact you as the result of hearing about you from someone else, or after sampling your expertise for free.

5. Persistence
The final element every professional needs in his or her marketing mix is persistence. Without this component, your best intentions with the other four will fail.

You have to connect with people over and over again before they will remember your message. Your positioning will only be established when prospects hear about you more than once. Building your personal credibility depends on different types of exposure over a period of time. And both push marketing and pull marketing require repeat contacts in order to pay off.

Try putting these 5 P’s together into a personal marketing mix of your own. As an independent professional, I think you’ll find them much more pertinent, persuasive, and powerful then the classic four.

Related Topics

View more answers by this author or in related categories.

The GET CLIENTS NOW! Answer Center site is no longer being maintained. Please visit our main site, GET CLIENTS NOW!


Write a Comment

Take a moment to comment and tell us what you think. Some basic HTML is allowed for formatting.

Reader Comments

Be the first to leave a comment!