If you’ve spent five minutes with me talking about marketing, you’ll know that I use the 4P model of marketing (product, price, place, promotion). It’s what I learned in college and it has never failed me as the basis for marketing plans and helping small businesses and nonprofits understand the foundational elements of what they are promoting.
Many people learned a 5P model, including my cousin who I was recently visiting in Arizona. The 5th P in that model is for People. I’ve heard this before from colleagues but didn’t change my way of operating and I will tell you why.
People Are in the 4Ps
My first argument is that PEOPLE can be in all the 4 Ps. People can be your product literally if you are booking entertainers like musical performers, magicians, casino services, or if you are coordinating in-home healthcare, and even for repairs in the case of plumbers, electricians, and other contractors.
In terms of place, you need to decide if you need a location to offer assistance in person, or is a call center okay with experts on standby? Does your product require a demonstration? If so, then your place could be virtual with effective videos, or demonstrations like on a TV shopping network.
People surely influence price. An elite pricing strategy can raise the price and allow you to hire staff at a higher rate to match their expertise. You can offer tiered pricing as well with a lower price point for apprentice level employees.
When it comes to promotion, this is where I think people are instrumental for any product or service (nonprofit or for profit). People carry the banner of your organization—whether they are your employees representing you or your customers singing your praises to other potential customers. They promote you.
HR is PR
I truly believe that HR is PR. Your good hiring will lead to good customer service which is your very best public relations benefit. Your sales team acts as a function of PR as well. Salespeople are your ambassadors on the frontline talking to your target market on a regular basis. Human resources practices that include training people to provide excellent customer service is the nexus of HR and PR.
Not About the People
There is also an argument that you can market a company successfully without focusing on people at all. Think of how many products you buy on a regular basis and the people running the corporation that makes the product has nothing to do with your purchase. Is your choice of toilet paper based on the people who make it or sell it, or your preferences? Likely your preferences—soft, strong, single- or double-ply, on sale, etc. You don’t think too much beyond what you need for most things.
Then there are people who choose NOT to buy from a particular company either based on their HR policies (sweat shop conditions) or political and religious leanings of the company owners. Those backlashes usually come later, not because the marketing team was aiming to create a polarizing brand. Hobby Lobby, El Pollo Loco, and Walmart come to mind. When those issues arise, the company can decide if they want to simply forge ahead with their convictions unapologetically, appease their customers and make amends somehow like an equal contribution to the other side of the aisle, or decide to lean into the new identity and cater to those who agree with them. All are viable options, and all will have outcomes that could be unfavorable.
Do I agree with a 5th P for people? I think people are already embedded in the 4 Ps where needed. I also agree, you can’t run a company without at least one person, but that one person does not have to be Prince Charming to be successful. I’m sticking with 4.
Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on Amazon. Call her for help with your promotion. If you found this post helpful, please leave a note here and feel free to share it.