Does Social Media Fit into the Traditional Marketing Mix (4 P’s)?

Iowa Social Media Business Marketing

Is the Marketing Mix Still Relevant

The 4 P’s of Marketing, or Marketing Mix, have been the traditional building blocks of the marketing foundation since the early 1950’s. While there have been changes and additions, these pillars have generally stood the test of time and remain key pillars in the science of marketing. The question is, does social media fit into the 4 P’s and, if so, where?

I’ve seen some respected and reputable sources suggest that, while the 4 P’s aren’t dead, they don’t apply well to the internet and social media. I’ve even seen some suggest that a different standard should apply and they’ve made up their own new list of P’s. I believe we’re all entitled to our opinions but, with all due respect, my opinion is that they’re blatantly and incredibly wrong. Marketing is a science, not an art, and doesn’t change simply because we have new vehicles with which to engage. To suggest that the science of marketing has changed because of the internet would be like suggesting that the science of internal combustion has changed simply because our cars are more technologically advanced.


Does It Apply to Internet Marketing

The Marketing Mix, as a fundamental principle, still applies and is as relevant as it ever was. The internet and social media have not changed the science or the message, they’ve only provided a more modern and direct methodology of delivering them. If anything, the internet and social media have only reinforced the importance of having a sound and well aligned marketing strategy before you consider implementation due to the speed at which your brand can proliferate.


So Where Does Social Fit

Obviously my answer would be that social media fits very well within the traditional Marketing Mix. To answer where and how, let’s take a close look at the 4 P’s.

  • Product: This first “P” refers to things like functionality, appearance and quality of product. In short, these are physical attributes of the product. Social Media really doesn’t fit here as it doesn’t have a direct impact on product attributes. Scratch this off the list.
  • Price: As a standalone product attribute, Price is not physical but encompasses a variety of factors (e.g. list price, discounts, allowances, etc.) related to the market. Although the internet has certainly had an effect on price competition, neither it nor Social Media determine pricing so they don’t fit here either.
  • Placement: Also referred to as “Place”, this is all about things like supply chain, logistics and points of distribution. While eCommerce can certainly serve as an effective and efficient distribution model, Social Media is not a necessary component of this. Not a strong fit.
  • Promotion: This “P” is all about communication through things like advertising, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion. Since Social Media is all about communication, I think we’ve found a winner!

Social Promotion

The Internet and Social Media haven’t replaced traditional marketing and they haven’t circumvented the traditional Marketing Mix.  They have, however, provided some modern, turbo-charged ways to promote your brand. You still need the science and the strategic planning but your communication speed once you’ve created those is exponentially faster. Basically, you now have a much faster conduit to what many marketers refer to as the “Fifth P”. People!

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Article written by John Howard

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John is the founder and President of Frontera Marketing Group. A graduate of the University of Iowa, John had more than 20 years of professional experience in Sales and Marketing prior to founding FMG. His corporate background included a number of companies, industries and roles including National Account Manager, Product Manager, Brand Manager, Director of Trade Marketing, Director of Marketing and Vice-President of Marketing.

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