The New 4 P’s of Marketing: Promotion = Connection


I have friends all along the political spectrum. Politics, of course, is the business of government policy. Pretty dry stuff, really. What fascinates me is my friends rarely post anything on social media about the proposed policies or philosophies of their favorite candidate. Rather, they share stories of scandals, lying, corruption and stupid comments about their candidate’s opponent.

Why does this rhetoric get so nasty? Because the politicians we support are a reflection of us as individuals. The connection is quite personal. When our candidate gets attacked, it feels like an attack on our own value system and character. We get emotional. The rhetoric intensifies, snowballs and eventually gets out of hand. And, I stop visiting social media sites.

Political parties are of course brands. And marketers can learn a great deal about connecting with customers by watching the political circus going on right now.

That leads us to the fourth P of classic marketing, Promotion.

Promotion is the most misunderstood of the classic four P’s of marketing. It isn’t a sales gimmick (enter-to-win, BOGO, LTO, etc.). Promotion is connection. It’s connecting your product or service with the people who want that product or service—not physically, but mentally and emotionally.

Promotion or connection is the last P because you cannot connect effectively unless you’ve figured out the other three P’s: Product (value), Price (worth) and Place (customer experience). These P’s make up your brand positioning and they determine who, what, where, when and how to connect.

The biggest mistake businesses make with regard to marketing is they start with the big promotional idea before they nail down their brand positioning. This is not a chicken and egg situation, but rather putting the cart before the horse. There is a proper order to marketing. The three P’s of brand positioning come first followed by connecting through communication.

Many people believe the extent of marketing is communications because that’s what they see—the big idea, the catchy tag line, the interesting design. While marcom is an essential aspect of marketing, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

What makes this fourth P so difficult to implement effectively? It often means connecting with our tribe when our tribe isn’t actually interacting with our brand. If your customers were to engage with one of your brand assets, than that would fall under customer experience (the third P of classic marketing). Of course, these distinctions get a little messy because communications is in itself a vital brand asset. That’s not my point.

My point is this: when a brand is well positioned it takes on human characteristics, which resonate with its tribe. It is easy to communicate with someone who shares the same values, beliefs and perspective. And, the brand’s values, belief and perspective comes from its brand positioning—product (value), price (worth) and place (customer experience).

What happens when we don’t share the same values, beliefs and perspective? Visit your favorite social media site. The promotional circus is in town.

Promotion is connection.

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