For over 50 years almost everything in marketing and advertising was based on The Four Ps. In simple terms they can be defined as:

PRODUCT (what you made in a factory),
PLACE (where you sold your product),
PRICE (what people paid for it),
PROMOTION (a way to increase sales).

The Four Ps thrived in a different world where marketers were king and product differences lasted. Big, obedient audiences could be reached with big, efficient media. However, the world is over mediatised and consumers are filtering out the messages and are seizing control. Audiences have shattered into fragments and tribes. The new ecosystem is millions and billions of unstructured one-to-one and peer-to-peer conversations.

Marketing is in the hot seat and many of the tools and assumptions we grew up with are no longer valid. It’s time to forget the Ps and embrace the Es.

From Product to Experience

Traditional marketing got us to look at product features. Find a single consumer benefit and promote this over and over again. But in 2013 product advantages don’t last and this strategy has lost relevance. A six-month, product-based advantage is a luxury and on the web you may be special for seconds. Stop thinking about the product and start thinking about the full experience. The first step is to discover the Customer Experience. How do customers shop for your product? What influences purchases? Why do they choose a competitive product? How do they use your product? What happens after they buy?

If you don’t understand this you can’t deliver an end-to-end customer experience and you won’t know where to focus your precious marketing effort. When you think about the experience, not just the product, you can do amazing things.

From Place to Everyplace.

Retail used to be a “place” but now consumers create their own paths. You need to understand the full range of possibilities in reaching people. Instead of interrupting consumers, you need to intercept them and make contact when they are most receptive to engaging with you. It’s no longer about interrupting to grab attention when people are watching television, reading a magazine or visiting a retail location. Today we have to intercept consumers on their terms, and that could be everyplace.

From Price to Exchange.

Price was simple: I give you a product and you give me money. For many marketers, the focus was on the cost side of the equation: keep costs down and keep prices competitive. Marketers were highly aware of the cost of marketing inputs – commercial production, agency compensation, TV airtime and print production. But as Oscar Wilde said, “The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

You need to be aware of what’s most valuable to your customers, in particular, what it takes for them to give you precious things like their attention, their engagement and their permission. The idea of exchange is about knowing what your customers really bring in terms of revenue and profit over their lifetime. What are we willing to offer them in exchange for their attention, their engagement and their permission?

From Promotion to Evangelism.

Promotion used to be enough. A single-minded product benefit, creatively promoted would often be a winning approach. But increasingly, we are seeing a new and more powerful approach – evangelism. By this I mean creating a brand experience that is so inspiring to consumers that they engage with you – and share their enthusiasm with others. What makes evangelism so powerful today is how it marries the oldest form of persuasion – word of mouth – and the newest – social networking and Web 2.0. But never forget: brand evangelism is a tightrope. One mistake, one bad experience and the belief in your brand will slip.

And let’s not forget Empathy.

After the aggressive, bullish behaviour that dominated the last century you need to find a new way of doing things that is counter to everything that lead up to the recent global financial meltdown. We are all living in a new world order, fuelled by the rise of civil society, the green movement, the evolution of social networks and a decline in blatant over consumption. The time has come for brands to begin emphasising their capacity to be sensitive, understanding and in touch with their customer’s point of view.

George Orwell wrote “he who controls the present controls the past” but with the Five Es you can control the present and thus control the future. You owe it to your customers and, most importantly, you owe it to yourself.