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By 18th April 2016July 12th, 2019No Comments

Heroically taking on this traditional marketing mantra  

Product, Place, Price, Promotion, Profit, People, Process, Physical-evidence, Presence, Packaging, Procurement, Purpose, Pivot, Personalisation, Positioning, Personality, Perseverance, Perspective, Ploy, Practice…

So far I’ve counted over 20 different P’s all claiming a place in the esteemed Famous Five. But when all is said and done and the marketing plan has been bundled into the drawer for its annual hibernation, does it really matter whether the alliterary qualities of section 5.1 stack up with the status quo?

And so it is that I find myself heroically taking on this traditional marketing mantra, while tin-hat sellers in the vicinity of my office order fresh stock.


Don’t get me wrong; I’m not knocking the fellow named McCarthy who thought up the original 4 P’s, presumably whilst floating in his bath or some other such inspirational place. Personally, I think that a bit of alliteration is great and helps to implant the information indelibly into the memory.  Several brainy scientists agree with my theory. So why not use a series of P’s to help remind you how to turn a skeletal marketing plan into a full-bodied blueprint for success?

Talking of such things, I’ve always thought that one of the fundamentals of not only marketing but the entire business-osphere is missing from the traditional 5 P’s.  Where is the ‘Planning’ in all this?  Strategy, insight, forecasting… all of these could be bundled into the ‘Planning’ stable and to be honest, they’re really not optional. So maybe it’s not only the fact that we’re limited to P-words, but are just 5 or so words enough to do the job? Marketing is a massive spectrum after all, being the foundation (IMHO) of any business that has aspirations to survive (not a good idea).

After all, there are only so many words in the marketing nomenclature that will do and coincidentally they all begin with a ‘P’…or do they?  Is it that our obsession with religiously memorising these marketing essentials within the narrow confines of alliteration is limiting our scope?

Trouble is, that was the 1960’s: the era of Kodak, Sony cassettes and VW campers – all amazing in their time, but now mere vintage collectables. So should this marketing theory be filed in the well-loved archives too?

“As marketers, we’ve all used the twelve-month marketing plan and the traditional 4 Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion – to drive our marketing efforts. They’re great when starting a new product process, or when in detailed planning and strategy mode. But how often does that happen these days? Very rarely. Today’s digital world has programs happening constantly and new products infrequently.”

Dorothy Mead, Blur Group


Nowadays there are other, more modern and exciting elements that don’t feature in our motley collection of P-words: Digital, Experience, Branding, Mobile, Content, Disruption… these are all relatively new contestants in the repertoire of marketing jargon, yet oh so 2016.  There doesn’t seem to be any place for these in the traditional 5 P’s, so is it time for a refresh?

I guess it all comes back to the Purpose of the 5 P’s. Why did the good man McCarthy put his name to such a theory in the first place? It must have been to help marketers remember the basics, right? True enough. But the key for me is in the fact that marketers (believe it or not) are generally overloaded and anything that makes our lives easier has to be a good thing.

Because as we all know, it’s easy enough to fire clichés around the boardroom and completely befuzzle the FD with such human phrases as ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Virtual Reality’. But remember that it’s not about the words or how clever you sound; the proof is always in the pudding. And if you can use the 5 P’s to help you deliver results, then ignore all my criticism and fire away.

You’re reading an article from the Newton Print Marketer Hub. We’re trying to do our bit to help marketers’ lives easier. It’s been confirmed that marketing and design departments are the most overworked of all so it’s time that was recognised. We use our experience to help you transform your marketing with an injection of creativity and 30 years of know-how.

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Simon Besley

Author Simon Besley

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