The 80’s TV (UK) classic Blockbuster (with the late great Bob Holness) was a smash hit back in the day.  The iconic line “I’ll have a P please Bob” is still a generational catchphrase that will live long in the memory. 

Fast-forward 25+ years and the letter P is reaching iconic status once more. This time the audience isn’t six formers and pre-graduates but business and marketing leaders.

The P was popularised in marketing back in the 1960s with E. Jerome McCarthy  – The Four Ps (Product/price/promotion/place) and the Marketing Mix. Even in recent times this has evolved to the Seven Ps to include: people, process and physical evidence.

In my opinion, due to recent changes in the business and marketing landscape it’s time to revitalise the power of the letter P to something even more representative and holistic to the challenges we face.

My Eighteen P model is designed as a checklist and GPS device that can help guide you through the complex challenges all business leaders and marketers face in this increasingly multi-channel world.

Here’s the full list, scroll down to find out more detail on each of the Ps:

  1. Purpose
  2. People
  3. Point-of-View
  4. Profits
  5. Passion
  6. Planet
  7. Performance
  8. Partnerships
  9. Participation
  10. Promise
  11. Pride
  12. Plan
  13. Product
  14. Price
  15. Place
  16. Promotion
  17. Physical evidence
  18. Process

1: Purpose – Why does your business exist above and beyond making a profit? Research from Harvard and Stanford indicates that the most successful companies, both in profitability and longevity, are the ones who recognize the absolute necessity of profits as well as the equally high necessity of having a purpose beyond shareholder wealth.

For inspiration check out Simon Sineks Tedtalk.

2: People – We are living in the ‘People Age’. Never has it been more important to over commit to the needs and aspirations of your customers, love your employees and take action to help improve the communities and societies in which you operate. The advent of the ‘people powered’ social business and the technologies to support this emerging model are available now!!

3: Point of view – In a world of increasing competition and a lack of true differentiation the real battle ground is in the minds of your customers. Having a strong point-of-view about the category and market in which you operate and exercising this through ‘thought leadership’ programmes is critical for both market leaders and challengers alike.

4: Profits – There is much talk about the death of the old Capitalist model that many of us grew up with. Milton Friedman’s view popularised through the 70s to recent times was that the ultimate social responsibility of business was to generate profits for its shareholders. He went further to suggest any deviation from this by way of corporate philanthropy would eventually be a cost that would get born by the consumer. The reality today is that a new and more compassionate Capitalism is emerging: one that gives equal emphasis to people, profits and planet – the so-called ‘triple bottom line’. What a company does with the profits it makes is as equally important as how it makes them in the first place.

5: Passion – One of the new areas of brand development is in the field of implicit communications. Think of this like brand body language i.e. the non-verbal cues or signals you emit as a brand that your customers pick up on. Showing your passion and that of your employees by way of social responsibility and sustainability initiatives is a great way to reflect the true energy and culture within a company. This is a difficult one for most brands to measure but hugely important for people ‘looking in’ on your business.

6: Planet – The sustainability agenda in many corporations has become a huge factor in their ongoing business strategy.  Not many would argue that in the past 50 years ‘big business’ has damaged the health of the world in which we live. One of the most exciting trends in business today is how we go about ‘unfu*king the planet’. Forward thinking corporations and brands are concerned with trust, reputation and legacy not just profit, profit, profit. Think beyond your own balance sheet, what are you doing to help repair the planet?

7: Performance – There are hundreds of different methods, tools and technologies to help measure business performance. We will always have core economic indicators that are often unique to certain sectors i.e. profit per square foot for retailers or churn figures for telecom vendors. The key change in recent times is to be more reflective on the real performance indicators that drive business success: How does your culture and employee engagement levels stimulate success? How does your sustainability agenda and beliefs help increase the performance of your supply chain? How does being easy-to-do business with drive loyalty?

8: Partnerships - Transparency of what you do has never been greater. For most companies their partners and supply chain form an integral part of their go-to-market strategy. We’ve seen in recent weeks the issue of contaminated horsemeat in frozen processed foods and the issue this has caused brands like Tesco, Burger King and Ikea.  Your partnership strategy, especially for brands that sell ‘indirect’ can have a massive impact on the reputation of your brand.  The key is to work with partners and suppliers that share your purpose and beliefs in the hope that together you can be better!

9: Participation – Another great buzz word of the social era but one that probably deserves all the hype it gets. It’s not rocket science to understand the positive impact that can be achieved by allowing your customers and employees participate more in the running of your business. From a customer perspective brands like Starbucks have seen huge WINS with their My Starbucks idea web site and on a corporate level companies like Jive Software are allowing large corporations to tap into the vast intellectual capital of their employees by creating enterprise platforms to facilitate this.

10: Promise – One of the less fashionable aspects of branding these days seems to be the humble ‘brand promise’. Making them is easy, keeping them is the hard part. In periods of market instability with pressures on costs and high staff turnover a brands promise can often be the first thing to suffer. Your promise however is central to everything you do and should be informed from your purpose and vision. It must be clear, compelling, concise and credible. It needs to act as a rallying call to all your employees and a lighthouse to your customers. Most importantly it needs to flow from your CEO to every touch point of your business. Great examples that are well executed (that’s the key) are:

RackSpace – fanatical about support

Google – provide access to the world’s information in one click/swipe

Patagonia – providing environmentally responsible adventure

11: Pride – We talk a lot these days about trust, integrity and authenticity as desired outcomes that all brands gravitate towards. However, in order to get there having pride in what we do is a key ingredient. The only way to give a brand pride is to infuse it through all employees and your supply chain partners. Pride is another great example of a powerful brand signal. Pride is a by-product of having a strong purpose, a great product/service/solution and empowering people to make a difference in their day jobs.

12: Plan – Sounds like an obvious one doesn’t it. The importance of a flexible and fluid plan that guides rather than stifles is a key requirement in business today. A 10 year plan, a 5year plan, a 1 year plan – there is no one size fits all plan that’s for sure. The key thing is that planning adds rigour and discipline to the process of setting your business on a course for success and more importantly helping you navigate your way there.

13: Product – One of the original Four Ps. Your product is at the core of what you do. Modern marketing tells us that the old world, product-centric approach needs to be refreshed with a more customer experience centric approach.  Today we need to consider the notion of the ‘whole product’ and not just the physical and often functional side of what we do. By wrapping a unique set of services, tools and experiences around our core product we can often transform it into something more compelling and unique.

14: Price – Here’s a biggy. Price determines profit so it’s of interest to every business person. How companies and brands price, bundle and discount products and services is a hugely complex area. Mobile phone vendors are notorious for having multiple skews and tariffs which make it impossible to work out the best deal. In recent times through the rise of Smartphones, cashback, codes and voucher brands like Quidco and Vouchercloud have emerged which adds another layer of complexity to brand driven pricing. What’s vitally important in this multi-channel world is to make sure your pricing is simple and consistent.

15: Place – From eBay to pop-up shops, bricks and mortar to online, mobile apps to Facebook, TV to telephone, franchising to direct selling. The channels and places that we can buy from are vast and growing. Managing this complexity of touch points is one of the biggest headaches facing business today. Choose your channels and places wisely; they have a huge impact on brand reputation and customer experience.

16: Promotion – We are all well versed in the traditional marketing channels from packaging to advertising, sales promotion to PR. We’re all learning to blend these with the emergence of social media, content and mobile marketing as well as becoming Chief Data Officers along the way. The critical factor moving forward is to build a credible brand platform first. Focus on shifting from a push to a pull based communications strategy and work heard to earn your customers attention rather than simply buy it.

17: Physical evidence – This is an interesting one because it forces us to think in more detail about the physical artefacts, materials and components that reflect the brand experience we are trying to create. For example: storefronts and merchandising, uniforms and signage take a great deal of thought in traditional retail environments but equally employers are now looking at how these same aspects lend themselves to creating better working environments as well.

18: Process – Most organisations today are the result of a complex web of business processes that have been fine-tuned over the years to form the operational side of a business. This can include everything from recruitment to supplier management, online ordering to customer service. With the advent of new technologies into the marketing department such as email management, web site management, social media analytics and such like more and more processes are being created. In my view the challenge for marketers is to re-invent and re-imagine the processes that have most impact on their business. For example: if you’re a customer service driven business how are you re-inventing the way you engage with your customers? How are you responding to the fact they are becoming more autonomous and social? Processes like every other part of the business need to be adapted and evolved to fit with the constantly moving demands of the market and your customers.

What’s your view? Any Ps to ad to the list?