Solutions Marketing: The four P's are OVER

Virtually every marketing student on the planet can recite the 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Since the early 1960's when Harvard Business School professor Neil Borden first described them as key elements of the marketing mix, the 4 P's have held their ground as the foundational pillars of 50 years of marketing planning.

In today’s B2B world, however, when more and more business buyers are looking for integrated solutions instead of simple products, a great many marketers are questioning whether they are still relevant and appropriate. Do the the 4 P's still provide a useful framework for responding to a market opportunity? Can marketers focused on highly intangible, complex offerings still fall back on Dr. Borden's formula?

The short answer is "No." Indeed, it's time to declare the 4 P's  OVER for solutions marketing. Let's stick a fork in them, declare them too product-centric, and move on. If you're marketing toothpaste, the 4 P's are still relevant, although the rise of social media definitely raises some serious questions about Promotion, and several other P's as well. But if you're marketing cloud-based enterprise management or commercial real estate development solutions, OVER is a whole lot more useful: Offer, Value, Experience, and Relationships.

Compared to the 4 P's, OVER is rooted in the understanding that marketing solutions is quite different than marketing products, and that marketing solutions in a digital, buyer-driven world requires very different thinking, tools, and metrics.

The chart below compares the two approaches.

Talk with anyone who has spent significant time marketing both products and solutions. They’ll tell you that there are very important differences. And when you net it out, the most important difference is understanding that the classic 4 P’s of marketing are now OVER.

I'll dig more deeply into the four elements of OVER over the next several months. In the meantime, we'd love to know what you think. Are you still using the four P's? Does OVER work for you? What are we missing?

Comments (5)

Hui-Wen Tsai

I agree that the "4P" is not enough to compete in today's markets with intense competition and more complexity. In addition to "OVER", I think there are some points that is critical for a solution company. (1) Credibility: Professional marketing team and sales force is critical. A solid information platform which enable customers access to credible information and integrated reference is also essential. (2) Co-creation and customer engagement: Companies should continuously develop innovative events, campaigns or digital media to co-create new ideas and enhance more engagement with their customers. (3) Technology: Companies must investigate new technology all the time and leverage them to innovate offerings and business practices.

Juliana Ortega

I think OVER concept, does not replace the 4P’s. Iit is a complement of them, because solutions, as it is mentioned in the offering, are a mix of products and services. And in this order, the 4p’s are still relevant, but a solutions marketeer should be acknowledge that when developing a marketing strategy for a solution, he or she must go further and have in mind that a solution is a whole and integrated experience that is addressing a value proposition that built expectations to be meet in the clients. It is important to highlight that OVER go together with the three additional Ps, key additional aspects regarding solutions marketing to be aware of: - People: Participants to be considered within the solutions design and delivery such as employees, customers and channel partners. - Process: flow of activities, customer involvement. Essential aspects in the relationship building. - Physical evidence: certifications, reports, facility design, equipments. Elements that customers can perceived and that will enhance the experience.

Kathryn Wong

I think the 4P’s should not be completely replaced by OVER but should just be expanded to include and adapt to the changes that have happened since the time of its inception in the 1960’s. The 4P’s and the 3 additional P’s for service should be complementary to OVER. Product: Instead of limiting products as tangible items, it should now be both tangible and intangible. Times have changed and a lot of intangible items are now being sold. Price: Before it was often fixed and cost-based. But now because of the rise of connectivity and globalization, price should depend on which country you are selling your product and should depend on the channel. If you sell it online then you might have to sell it cheaper compared to if you have an actual store. Place: This should include not only the physical location where one sells the product but online as well. Not only should you focus on the location but about the environment of the place. Promotion: Instead of just keeping to traditional advertising and such, promotion should start to include blogging, viral marketing, email blasts, social media outlets like: Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Richard Schirrmacher

At the end the words are different but the meaning of both models is almost the same. It depends on the individual interpretation of the reader/user. The OVER model is a nice add to the usual 4 P's to clarify the message behind it. The 4P's are pretty old and needed a facelift to get introduce to the new technology world. The technology factor increased rapidly of importance in the last 20 years. The shift away from product marketing towards service and solutions marketing is also a fact, which made the facelift for the P's necessary. The OVER model is an adequate facelift for the 4 P's and minimize the space for mistakes regarding strategic planning.

Pocharaporn Udomwatthawi

This is very interesting but for me I don't think OVER can replaced 4P's but the combination of this two is a must for solution marketing. This OVER is very important and will be helpful with it combined together as I have learned for my Solution Marketing class but I don't most people have learned about this tool or how to combined the OVER with 4P's so this blog show how we can do it and this is very helpful. And it is very important to includes addition 3P's. 3P's combine of People, Process and Physical Evident. I am very interesting in this topic So its will be very helpful if you can dig it deeper for this OVER. :)