The Missing P in Marketing

Article by | August 18, 2016 Marketing Strategy

I received my marketing degree a long time ago, but much (if not most) of what I’ve learned about modern marketing has come from experience, books, blogs, colleagues, workshops, and other sources. Especially since the advent of the Internet.

One thing that I learned in college still seems to stand the test of time, though: the Four Ps of marketing. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. However, after spending nearly two decades in the marketing world, I propose a different P: Problem.

The Four Ps of Marketing

The four “Ps” I prefer today comes from the Pragmatic Marketing framework. Its roots share the tried-and-true Product, Place and Promotion. But the first and most important “P” is problem. This is what sets the Pragmatic Ps apart. It’s also where we start every engagement with a client—and where you should start, too.

“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it.” – Albert Einstein

We work primarily with technology-based companies. Our clients sometimes have a hard time articulating this particular P. They have focused a lot of time, effort, and funding into the product and what it does — but they may not have stopped to answer the question, “What problem does this solve in the marketplace?

Our project engagement process revolves around this “problem statement.” We create unique value propositions from it, form core messaging, determine how to speak to the buyer and user personas, and decide how to articulate the key features of a product and service that specifically address this market problem (called a “buyer matrixSM” in Pragmatic speak).

Restated: Your business is not a deliverable, per se. It’s continuous problem-solving in your particular market!

Our client, XOEye Technologies, is prime example of how to leverage a problem/solution equation in positioning a product. Their unique value proposition says, “We create the world’s best wearable technology system for solving efficiency problems in the industrial workplace.”

Do you see the problem they’ve identified? In their industrial space, “efficiency” problems mean money down the drain. A lot of money: one potential client of XOEye estimated a $1M savings just by knowing where their forklifts were at any given time! Help a company solve efficiency problems, and there’s a direct correlation to cost savings.

But what kind of problems exactly? We continue to address that in the primary messaging that follows, asking questions such as:

  • Do you have a shortage of skilled laborers?
  • Are callbacks or other errors eating your margin?
  • Do you need more timely and transparent interaction with your workforce?

All of these are very specific, very expensive problems in the industrial services marketplace. And all of these are specifically addressed by the wearable technology platform XOEye has created. See the connection? From here, potential buyers and users can learn more about how the XOEye platform solves their everyday problems in these key areas, not just “how it works” in generic, technical terms.

This last bit, where understanding your market’s problems, can significantly set you apart. XOEye could have said “Our proprietary wearable technology platform allows you to manage wearable devices and their users, capture and organize data, etc, etc.”

That’s true. And cool. And you can read about that on their site. But if you position features in terms of specific problems you solve, everyday, relevant to your buyer or user (“Do you have a shortage of skilled laborers?”), then they can immediately relate to your product. You’ve already won a BIG part of the battle for new customers. And you only have a few seconds to do that on the web.

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