If the 4 Ps don't Add Up --- Take a Hike!

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Jan 19, 2024 by Sean Luce

It's been approximately 40 years since marketing professor (and subsequent guru) Dr. Philip Kotler conceptualized the four Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. When I work with sales reps, I stress that when advertising campaigns fail to produce results for clients, it is often because one or more of these vital Ps is missing - or is seriously flawed at the business level.

Case in point: I recently called on a Ford/Nissan dealer in a rural market. The Ford badge at the dealership had been branded for nearly 20 years, but it had only carried the Nissan line for the past three years and never had promoted it. Most people in the market were not aware that this trusted Ford dealership sold Nissan cars and trucks. They were known for Ford, period. Called to the dealership to fix this problem, I laid out the 4 Ps on the dry-erase board as topics for discussion.

PRICE: The dealership wanted to push the Nissan Titan truck. The comparable Ford truck is the Ford F150, the best-selling truck in the U.S.With the "employee discount," you can get up to $9,000 off the Ford F150. So, what about the Titan? The best the dealership can do is give the customer a $2,000 rebate, or 3 percentage points off 60-month financing. Why would someone buy the Nissan when they can buy the Ford F150 cheaper by $7,000? You can see how hard it is to move those Nissan trucks under these circumstances.

PRODUCT: Nissan makes some great cars and trucks. The Maxima and the Pathfinder are two of the top name brands in their class. However, the dealership is in a rural area where people tend to buy domestic cars and trucks. Put a Nissan truck out in the country and the poor buyer will probably be hung for purchasing anything but American. The only chance the dealership has is to draw from the urban areas located about 30 miles away. But why would they drive to the rural dealership when they have a Nissan dealer in their backyard in the urban market?

PLACE (MENT)/DELIVERY: At the dealer's lot, the Ford trucks and cars are located on the front row next to the highway. Where are the Nissans? On the side and in the back. Why don't people in their own market know this dealership carries Nissans? It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure this one out: If they are serious about selling the Nissan brand, they should put them on the front row.

PROMOTION: This is where radio comes in. In most cases, we really only have partial control
of one of the 4 Ps of marketing. In this case, the dealer wanted to throw a small amount of money at promoting the Nissans. My recommendation was to save the money. Examine and fix the other 3 Ps of marketing before you throw money at promoting your Nissans. Otherwise, you'll just attract people to the car lot, where they will end up buying the Ford product.

LUCE'S 5TH P: PERCEPTION. If I could, I would add a 5th P of marketing: perception. Why? Perception is reality, and in this case, the perception is that for 20 years this dealership has only sold Fords.You would literally have to separate the name and location of the product to have a fighting chance - and then it would still be a crapshoot.

LESSON: If we take the money here - and, of course, it won't work - we (radio) will get blamed for not producing results. How often does this happen every day at businesses across the country, when we only have input on one of the four Ps? Next time you sit down with a decision-maker at a business that's interested in advertising, run through the 4 Ps and see where

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