Classic marketing approaches like the 4Ps (or service marketing 7Ps) retain their validity today because they still provide a useful framework for marketing regardless of platform. As an example, I recently conducted an exercise to apply the 7Ps to an online marketing plan for a consultancy firm I’ve worked with.
Product: The act of providing consultancy (in this case risk consultancy) can only effectively be delivered in person. The Internet provides incredible reach, allowing companies to position, package and promote their offer directly to target customers worldwide. Websites can be developed to include engaging multimedia content, white papers and digitally distributed material to reaffirm their expert stance.
Place The Internet provides speed and convenience which is fantastic for a niche service provider. All available traffic and enquiry generation tools can be used, from search engine optimisation (natural and pay per click), to link building, social networking/media, digital PR and the use of banner ads on key sites.
Price Companies operating in this area typically operate a ‘clicks and mortar’ or mixed mode approach where customers use the Internet to research and shortlist suppliers before making an offline purchase through a bid/tender.
Promotion Effective measurement supports using the online channel. Customers search online so companies need to be located through search, advertising industry portals, trade associations and websites for influential trade publications. High visibility in these areas will stand companies in this area well.
People Most in-house marketing teams are small, so websites need to be automated as far as reasonably possible. Most benefit from functions such as FAQs, live chat, MyXXX login, forums, downloadable scoping documents to save time and provide customers with the information to ‘self serve’. This allows consultants to respond more quickly and decisively when customers make contact and also free them up to spend time on complex, high value contracts.
Processes Effective enquiry management systems should be established, with a strong case for automating many of the required steps in the enquiry handling process, adding the ability to quote/spec/tender online.
Physical Evidence Consultancies need to reassure customers about the integrity, safety and security of their website and doing business online by adding reviews, testimonials, certificates and privacy policies. Regular opt in email communication, focused around news, comment, tips and advice will demonstrate expert and trusted positioning.
There are reasons why the simple, tried and tested approaches in marketing stand the test of time.