Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Move Over 4 P's -- Time for the 4 R's

Last night I was teaching MBA students at Seattle University the foundations of marketing. In review, we hit upon the legendary and foundational Four P's of Marketing. Originally coined by Harvard professor E. Jerome McCarthy in the early 1960s, this simple model has dominated much of the way marketing has operated ever since.

There have been many modifications to the original 4, some have made them into five suggesting People be included, and even Seth Godin suggested a new one -- Purple cow.

But the best addition to the 4 P's I've ever seen is the four R's. RELATIONSHIPS, RETURNS, RELEVANCE, and RESPONSIVENESS.

Cause-related organizations shoudl consider regularly assessing their mission and value proposition to the external marketplace against the four R's. In doing so, I think some will find ways to update and improve their services, engagement, and excitement factor. Following is a quick definition of each element of the four R's.

RELATIONSHIPS -- this has to do with your organization's ability to create alliances and partnerships that improve your ability to fulfill your mission. This isn't just about getting donors to provide free stuff, but rather finding ways to attach your cause into the missions of these organizations so that it becomes their cause too. How expansive are your relationships and alliances into the for profit world? How deep are your connections to decision makers? How wide is your reach because of these relationships?

RETURNS -- this is a big one that many cause-related organizations fail to understand, but is so easy to accomplish. Donors and supporters do not only want to know what you did with the resources you've been given, they desperately want to know the permanent difference you're making in the world. Go beyond identifying how many meals you served, beds provided, acres of forest saved, and wells dug. Tell the world about what happened as a result of those things. Tell us what happened 3, 5, and 10 years later. What permanent mark did you leave on the world? What is your legacy of good?

RELEVANCE -- for anyone who doesn't get this concept, I have a bunch of 8-track tapes I want to sell you. Music hasn't changed much over the past 25 years, but the way we consume it has. People continue to shop and share product reviews with their friends just like they did in the 1980's. The way they do it has changed dramatically. Your cause may be just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago, but is your organization? Have you kept up with the times? Are you a dinosaur in a world of robots? Don't be fooled into thinking that technology is the driver here. It's not; people are. You need to ensure your cause-related organization is relevant in their eyes, meeting today's needs, not yesterdays.

RESPONSIVENESS -- I can get same-day shipping from Amazon. Text messages are instant. Netflix knew that receiving videos by mail was soon to be too slow so they created instant view from their site as well as on-demand viewing through providers like TiVo, Xbox, and others. Keep in mind that the world operates in Web time. Things can be and are instant. This isn't something to be afraid of or to work against. On the contrary, it is an opportunity. Web sites can be updated daily, tweets can go out to communities instantly creating buzz and action, and needs can be met in real time, not on 30-day mailing cycles.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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