Once upon a time, when I was a kid growing up in the 80s, mass production was the rule. The economics looked something like this:
- My local cobbler can make a pair of shoes that fits me perfectly. It costs $50.
- My local Payless Shoes can provide me with a pair of shoes that fit OK. They cost $20.
By ignoring their customers’ needs, and focusing on what will turn out the most shoes in the least time, manufacturers were able to drastically reduce the cost of shoes. In turn, we all got used to ignoring our own needs, in order to get lower prices.
The 4 Ps of marketing, then looked like this:
Price (as low as possible) ->
Product (whatever we can make cheaply) ->
Promotion (make people think they want our product) ->
Place (wherever we tell them to go)
In other words, you made what you wanted to make, and then spent money to convince people to buy it.
The new rules
I admit that shoes are still pretty much produced the same way. But your local shoe store has many more options, and there are thousands more online. Whatever your requirements, you can find a shoe that meets them.
There are several driving forces for this, but the long and the short of it is that power has shifted. We no longer have to settle for a product that’s good enough. We can almost certainly find a product that’s ideal.
Many, many companies have yet to realize this. But the intelligent ones have shifted their focus from internal to external. A 5th P has been added, to look like this:
Participation (Talk to people, find out what they like and what they want) ->
Product (Whatever the market wants) ->
Price (as low as the market will bear) ->
Promotion/Participation (let people know that you have what they want) ->
Place (wherever is convenient for your customers)
That is, you make what people want to buy, and then let them know it’s available.
What it means to you
The good news: you no longer have to be a conniving, deceptive weasel to be successful in business. Marketing is no longer about manipulating people into buying stuff they don’t want or need.
The bad news: you can no longer make what you want and manipulate people into buying it. You have to make what other people want.
But at least you don’t have to be a lying scumbag.