When 4 Ps are not enough - bring in the 3 Ds

Posted On by Brian Coles

Some things remain unchanged by digital transformation. The basic principles in marketing, summarised in the 4 Ps of Product, Price, Promotion and Place are still as valid today as when E.J. McCarthy formulated them 60 years ago. But as I discovered during a recent chat with the Danish marketing guru Troels Rygaard for our Dear Marketing Automation podcast, this might be the time to complement the 4 Ps with 3 Ds: Digital, Discovery and Democratisation.

The buyer’s journey as a metro map

While the 4 Ps still stand, there is no denying that digital transformation has changed the buyer journey. The journey is no longer linear, and the traditional funnel has disappeared. Troels Rygaard likens the buyer journey to a metro map. “You really have to sit down and take your time to understand the journey,” as it has become very specific for every individual buyer.

According to Troels, this changing buyer behaviour brings great opportunities to marketing. “Most of the journey happens online, and Marketing can take over part of the dialogue with the buyer before Sales do their magic and closes the actual sale.” Other departments too play their role in the buyer journey. “As products are commoditising, a bigger share of revenue will come from services. This means the service department becomes important too in marketing and selling.” Unfortunately, Sales still distrust Marketing, even when Marketing can now do a lot more than in the past, thanks to marketing automation and AI tools such as Einstein Analytics. “The good old conflict between Sales and Marketing is thriving,” noted Troels, somewhat cynically.

Knowledge sharing is key

The traditional gap between Sales and Marketing is counterproductive, especially when distributing knowledge is becoming so important. In marketing, everyone is creating content to share information with buyers. Both consumers and B2B buyers are looking for insights, and it’s the duty of vendors to democratise knowledge to deliver those insights to their customers. “Everyone is educating everyone else,” said Troels. “More people are active in the buying journey, from different departments, and each one of them is educating the others on why they need a certain technology, why something is a safe choice, what skills they will need before using certain products, etc.” And Marketing can educate the customer too: Marketing communicates in order to educate prospects so they can make an informed decision. Marketing can also educate Sales through the insights they get out of buying pattern analysis.

Users undertake a self-managed buyer journey

Every buyer is at a different knowledge level, so that means the education part needs to be personalised. “We need to offer the right content at the right time, viz. personalised,” said Troels. When building websites, we were always thinking in flows, but that is no longer the way people navigate websites. They are on a discovery trip, trying to find the right information to make an informed decision. Companies can no longer manage the buying journey. According to Troels, “the user undertakes a self-managed buyer journey.”

This discovery trip that customers are on, does have its effect on the 4 Ps. “You have to see if your products are still suited for the self-managed buyer journey, especially the way they are priced and positioned.”

We are living in a buyer’s market, where the customer is definitely king. And that is where the three Ds complement the 4 Ps: digital is the enabler, discovery is the transformation part, and making all information available to everyone is the democratisation process.

In my conversation with Troels Rygaard, we touched on many other aspects of marketing and digital transformation. To get the full content, check out the episode Digital transformation: impact on the buyer journey on our Dear Marketing Automation podcast. And while you’re there, remember to subscribe so that you’ll never miss a new instalment.