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According to Marketing Bloggers …

Did you notice Marketing Professor Philip Kotler’s latest book? ACCORDING TO KOTLER is essentially a marketing FAQ with Kotler’s take on all things marketing-related.

Not that we shouldn’t take Professor Kotler’s word on everything marketing — he is the world’s foremost authority on marketing after all. However, I thought it would be interesting to take the congregation is smarter than the preacher approach by asking Marketing Bloggers the same questions answered by Kotler in the book.

For the next month (or so) I’ll post questions asked of Kotler out to Marketing Bloggers to give their well-informed and passionate answers. In ACCORDING TO BLOGGERS (jpg), I bet we’ll learn the congregation of Marketing Bloggers is smarter than the Marketing Professor.


First question for us is: Are the 4Ps still a useful framework for marketing decision making?

KOTLER: The 4Ps still provide a useful framework for marketing planning. However, they represent the seller’s thinking more than the buyer’s thinking. The 4Ps can be converted to the 4Cs as follows:

  • Product becomes Customer Value.
  • Price becomes Customer Costs.
  • Place becomes Customer Convenience.
  • Promotion becomes Customer Communications.
  • The 4Cs remind us that customers want value, low total costs, high convenience, and communication, not promotion.

    BLOGGERS: What say us? Do we think the 4Ps are still useful? Do we think Kotler’s 4Cs thinking is more relevant for today’s marketplace? I’ve added my thoughts in the comments section, you’re welcome to do the same.


    • I like Kotler’s 4Cs approach. It’s a great way to flip one’s thinking to be more customer-focused.Back in college I had a marketing professor who taught the 4Vs of Marketing: Vision | Value | Venue | Virtue.VISIONDoes the company not only have a vision for making the world a better place, does it also follow through on that vision with its actions?VALUEDoes the product/service have value by helping people actualize their aspirations?VENUEIs the product/service available in the most conveniently appropriate ways?VIRTUREIs the product/service inherently good and does it positively benefit society and the global environment?In my years doing the marketing thang, I’ve found the 4Vs more relevant and applicable than the 4Ps. But Kotler’s 4Cs thinking is pretty dang sharp to me. You?

    • If we are going to play 4-of-a-kind, how about the 4 Ws?What:What is there about the product or service you are offering that makes it unique? What is there that will resonate with the consumer? What is the value proposition?Who:Who exactly is the customer? Who will be most receptive to your story? What demographic cohort are you targeting? What market segment? What geography? Is your marketing campaign truly focused on this customer?Where:Where can customers obtain the product or service? How convenient is your supply outlet, how accessible is your service provider? How easy is it to get pre-purchase information or after sales service?Why:Why should these customers buy from you? What is it about you or your company that makes you special? How are you perceived by your target audience? How does your brand measure up?As a senior manager in a large company, I am approached almost daily on a new product, a potential hire, a project proposal, an acquisition opportunity. I always ask questions centered on the drivers of success.The above 4 Ws were formulated for new products, but they are not difficult to reconfigure for other considerations.In a commodity world, it is hard to stand out. Hard for like products on a shelf, hard for the scrum of graduates all vying for the same job, hard for too many projects chasing tight capital. If they cannot stand up to scrutiny, if they do not stand tall in the face of tough questions and tough competition, they do not get past my desk.

    • gmtPLUS09 says:

      Bloggers versus KotlerThis is clever post is worth checking out. For the next month or so, a

    • gmtPLUS09 says:

      Bloggers versus KotlerThis post is worth checking out. For the next month or so, a

    • Dave J. says:

      Why do marketers always want to improve on things that work? The four Ps are a good meme, easy to memorize and recall, and helpful to make sure you’ve got the basics covered.The good marketer has to automatically think from both the company and customer perspective anyway, so I don’t see the benefit in Kotler’s four Cs.

    • Dave … I think marketers always want to improve on things that work in order to make them work better. As marketers, we get paid to over-think everything and analyzing the 4Ps may be another case of us marketers over-thinking. However, I think hearing other views on the relevancy and applicability of the 4Ps is a worthy exercise.My experience tells me not all marketers have the ability to think from the customer POV. Many times these marketers get caught-up in corporate navel-gazing and forgot about what really matters to the customer. That’s why I like Kotler’s 4Cs approach … it gets the marketer thinking in terms of the customer more than the company.

    • Andy Havens says:

      How is this “4 Cs?” It’s 3 Cs and a V. I’m so confused.Oh… I get it. All the Cs are for “Customer.” Well… but… isn’t that the “1C” then? Since it’s the same word? Or we could keep going and add as many other words after “Customer” as we wanted and have the “27 Cs,” the “206 Cs” or the “9 billion Cs.”Or maybe we could stop relying on alliteration (which I love in poetry, but not in busienss) and just get to work.Neil Weintraut wrote an article in “Business 2.0” in August of 1998 about “The New Ps,” in which he said the old 4Ps were dead and the new ones were, “plant (logistics), practices, people, and the (value)proposition.”Ah, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to use Ps.I guess the question is, “Should we use marketing tools that focus on customers?” Yes. Sure. Of course. But we should also use tools that focus on shareholders and employees, because they are customers, too.And while I’m slamming Kotler for alliteration, I’ll slam him for differentiating “Customer Costs” and “Customer Value.” Value is often inextricably tied to cost. But price is not always tied to product, nor can a company alter certain price variable by a function of will. The reason “price” and “product” are separated in the original 4Ps is because it is handy to think separately about those aspects of a product that impact the “use” of the product and the “economics” of a product. Doing so actually makes it easier to zero in on providing good value for a customer because you can do it from two angles. From a product angle, you can improve the functionality. From a price angle, you can improve the economic proposition. The way Kotler has it laid out, I somehow seem to have lost some of the granularity in the original 4Ps in there somewhere.Also… Place is not always about convenience. I would say that “convenience” is a sub-set of “place.” Other important place issues besides convenience might include; comfort, safety, familiarity, style, privacy, and social issues. The Internet has made us all so ga-ga about convenience that we forget people often drive well out of their way to go to a favorite restaurant, hair salon, church, mall or book store. Or that people will shun a nearby store (for me it’s Meijers), even if it has better prices, if it has that “I need to shower after I shop there” feeling.And I think that “customer communications” is just a cute (Hey! Another “C!”) synonym for “promotion.” Anybody who hasn’t figured out that promotion is a two-way street is still stuck in the 80’s.I’m tired of alliteration. I’m now demanding marketing tools with more subtle, sophisticated literary devices. How about a dactyl? Or an anapest with some internal rhyme? Or just a good, old limmerick:There once was an agency sotWho cooked up a fantabulous plot.His clients had doughThat he coveted, so,He “4P’d” them and got a new yacht.Very sorry. It’s 1:23 am. I’ll go to bed now before I write something even worse than that.

    • Me thinks Andy was/is P’d off.

    • Marketing According To BloggersBrand Autopsy is running a pretty slck series based on the guru of marketing, Philip Kotler’s book, According to Kotler.

    • Tom Willerer says:

      I love the 4 p’s and the 4 c’s, but I think they’re both lacking something and I’m suprised no one here came up with it. I present you all with the fifth c – conversation.And I’ll throw in one more c just for kicks – control. As in the control is shifting from the marketers to the market. That’s why it’s so important to understand the conversation aspect.

    • I have been a big believer in the Four C’s for many years. They put the customer at the center of everything instead of the company and/or the product.The funny thing is that I was first introduced to the Four C’s as the Lauterborn’s Four C’s in their book Integrated Marketing Communications – by Don Schultz, Stanley Tannenbaum and Robert Lauterborn dated 1992 (page 12 in my copy).

    • Marketing bloggers vs. Prof. KotlerThe guys at Brand Autopsy are running an interesting set of postings (here and here) comparing marketing bloggers’ opinions to the views of marketing guru Professor Philip Kotler on various marketing topics in his book “According to Kotler”. [Technorat…

    • Kotler in RomaniaKotler holds a conference here in Romania. Among his keypoints: marketing as we know it needs drastic refurbishment. How very close to the According to Bloggers argument at Brand Autopsy. Unofficial audio recordings from the conference are already avai…

    • Kotler in RomaniaKotler holds a conference here in Romania. Among his keypoints: marketing as we know it needs drastic refurbishment. How very close to the According to Bloggers argument at Brand Autopsy. Unofficial audio recordings from the conference are already avai…

    • Al Sammon says:

      Good point Francois and correct, Robert Lautherborn is the father of the 4Cs. Yet whats great about this is that it switches the mentality from seller (P)to buyer (C). However despite its obvious practical and mnemonic appeal, the 4Cs model has yet to enter the marketing lexicon.

    • Dora says:

      Great!!! Can someone tell me about value proposition at Chick-fil-A using Kotler’s theory?

    • I have great respect for Phil Kotler, but the 4C’s isn’t his conception; it’s mine, first published in a Forum article in Advertising Age in 1990.Robert F. LauterbornJames L. Knight Professor of Advertising EmeritusUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill