In a recent MSP Mentor blog, I discussed the relevance of the 4Ps as a construct for a cloud and managed services marketing mix. First articulated by marketer E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960, the 4Ps (product, place, price, and promotion) are considered outdated by some when it comes to B2B marketing in today’s cloud era. Harvard Business Review conducted a study of over 500 companies around the world, and has suggested that the SAVE model (solution, access, value, and education) better represents the current realities of B2B marketing.
Half a century after the 4Ps were first rolled out, so much has changed in how businesses buy products and services. We don’t head down to the local department store to make our purchases any more, we find what we need on-line. Neighborhood retailers aren’t battling one another for local customers, they sell to a world-wide market. We gather the information we need to make a purchase ourselves, through social media and web, rather than relying on the local shop owner to educate us on the benefits of her service.
But no matter what terms you use, the goal of the managed services marketing mix remains the same – to effectively position services relative to the customer’s problem, and against alternative solutions. Does using the word “solution” automatically provide marketers with a better orientation toward solving customer problems than does “product?” Is it necessary to use the term “access” to represent the fact that we no longer go to a physical “place” to make our purchases?
The fundamental aspects of the marketing mix are the same, whether your preferred abbreviation is the classic 4Ps or the modern SAVE.
An Example of a REAL change since 1960: The Pull Phase in Freestyle
When I started swimming competitively, Indiana University was the dominant force. The Hoosiers won six consecutive NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships between 1968 and 1973, a streak unmatched before or after. Although Mark Spitz was the star, James “Doc” Counsilman coached the team from 1957 to 1990 and wrote “The Science of Swimming,” the definitive guide. Published in 1968, the book provides scientific explanations for the techniques used to swim the major strokes.
Just like the four components of marketing mix, the five phases of a swimmer’s arm movement are tightly coupled. The reach, catch, pull, push, and recovery all work together to propel the swimmer through the water. But unlike the debate about the relevance of McCarthy’s 1960s era marketing mix terminology, there has been real, significant change in how we swim freestyle since that time.
In freestyle, the pull phase starts once the swimmer’s hand enters the water and begins to move backward. Analyzing the strokes of champions, Councilman advocated forming an “S” pull by bending the elbow between 90 and 100 degrees and moving the hand across the mid-line of the body, while pulling backward. This sculling approach would provide some lift to the swimmer’s body in order to reduce drag.
Once considered a best practice, the “S” pull is no longer in favor. Now swimmers are taught to move the hand along the side of the body in a deep-catch stroke during the pull phase, in order to focus the propulsion backward most effectively. Research by scientists at Johns Hopkins University has shown the advantages of throwing out the old “S” pull guidance in favor of a deep-catch pull.
The Implications for Managed Services Marketing Mix
The four other components of the freestyle stroke are generally taught the same now as they were then. The terminology for all phases of the stroke is the same now as it was then. The lesson is that terminology matters less than actual practice. When considering your managed services marketing mix, call it 4Ps or SAVE. What counts is what you do.
What do you think? 4Ps or SAVE? Do you still swim freestyle like we did last century, or have you entered the modern era? Tell me what you think!