July 20, 2021 9 min read
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- Marketing strategies are a “mix” of decisions about products, price, place , promotion, people, processes and physical evidence.
- The best storytelling companies use ONLY seven priority story families
- Combining the “marketing mix” with the seven narratives offers you a matrix of 49 possibilities. Almost one story for each week of the year.
As you well know, all companies, regardless of their size or market, use marketing to sell. However, not everyone knows that marketing is more than just “promotion” or “propaganda.” There are at least six other levers that can be activated. And if you add narrative techniques to that, the impact can be multiplied several times. In this article I tell you more about those parameters, those stories and how to relate them.
60 years ago, when economics was primarily industrial, Professor E. Jerome McCarthy pioneered the study of marketing. I wanted to understand the discipline and improve the way of operating it. So, after years of study, he found that the companies that did the best marketing made more or less conscious decisions in (only) four relevant areas:
- Product : that is, the company voluntarily decides the product it sells. Imagine that you are Coca-Cola… Are you going to sell 2-liter bottles or individual cans? Aluminum or glass containers? … Each modality you offer satisfies a specific need.
- Price : that is, how much do you sell each of your products. Or, also, what discounts will you apply, or what offers will you make (2×1?), Or if you accept payment in installments or in cash …
- Distribution (or place in English): that is, where will you sell your product / s? In super exclusive stores (like Apple, for example) or on any corner (like Budweiser, for example)? On the internet or in physical stores? Or both?
- Promotion : that is, how will you communicate to your customers that your product exists? Through what channels? How often? With what message? With what tone?
In English, these four parameters begin with the letter “P”. Hence, the combination of tools is called “Marketing Mix” or, also, “4P Model”.
From product to service
In the 1970s and 1980s other scholars began to find limitations to McCarthy’s model. For example: if the 4Ps worked for the industrial world, were they still valid in a world where added value was generated in the services sector? Or, even more: would it still be valid for electronic commerce? The answer was no. Or not at all.
In 1981 the (then) young professors Mary Jo Bitner and Bernard H. Booms announced to the American Marketing Association a new perspective: McCarthy’s model had to be expanded with at least 3 other “Ps”, which are as follows:
- People (or “human factor”), who are crucial in the marketing of services. For example: if you have to decide which hairdresser you go to, would you prefer a rude and rude hairdresser, or a kind and attentive person? And if you have to go to a store, would you prefer a person with little or no knowledge in the catalog, or an expert person?
- Processes , that is, the way the company organizes its work. If one day you need the services of lawyers or architects, surely you will choose those that give you the best guarantees of punctuality, accuracy, precision, professional rigor, communication and continuous attention. Or do you prefer them to be chaotic and unpredictable?
- Physical evidence (English: Physical Evidence). This is: unlike what happens when buying a product, services are usually intangible and not always standardizable. If you want to know what you buy before paying for it, you will want to receive a sample (or a representation as close to reality as possible) to understand what you buy. When you go to a website or travel agency to do tourism, you will surely want to see photos of the hotel where you will stay, so as not to find surprises.
“People”, “Processes” and ” Physical Evidence” are three concepts that also begin with “P”, so that, since 1981, the “Improved Marketing Mix” model has been called the “7P”.
This is still valid
Perhaps in a few years other scholars will appear who will propose new “Pes”, but, for now, the Marketing Mix of the 7Ps continues to work well.
Think of the e-business (or face-to-face) that you want and see how brands strive to excel (or not) in each of those levers. Organizations such as Netflix, M & M’s or any of the most beloved brands in the world last year , are characterized by offering products (or services) that adjust to the needs and desires of people, at prices that are convenient for the target they are targeting. directed, which are promoted in many ways (in person, online, virally …) and which are distributed through all kinds of modalities, whether electronic or physical.
Additionally, these organizations maintain a reputation for excellence in all their processes, they try to provide excellent treatment and service to the customer (people) and, generally, they manage to transmit sufficient physical evidence to their future customers, either through showrooms. , demos, workshops, or even the recommendation and testimonial of other users.
Seven types of story
I make a point. A few years ago I made sure that there are seven great types of narratives that all (good) companies use and combine consciously or unconsciously. I referred to them generically as “deposits”, as they are buried in the foundations of all organizations and sometimes go unnoticed.
I promise I’ll describe them better in my next post, but for now, think about these seven story types:
- Company or brand
- Product or service
- Prominent people within the organization (for example, the founders)
- Other stakeholders
- The case studies
Of all of them, stories can be told. In fact, the best companies do it every day. Google.com, for example, runs campaigns featuring its employees . Nike, for its part, has always featured stories led by its customers (as well as sports stars). Mercedes Benz is inspired by Bertha Benz (19th century) to prop up its brand , and Vodafone tells real case studies and in ways that are interesting and illustrative for new customers.
If you look closely, combining the 7Ps of Marketing Mix with the seven types of narratives that I just raised, you can get up to 49 different combinations that can feed, for example, 49 weeks of content on your social networks. I show it to you in the following matrix:
Following the matrix, you could, for example:
- Create stories of any type (or column) that help you reason why your product has a high or low price (tables 8 to 14 of the matrix). Take a look at this video of VOSS mineral water , for example, which explains the characteristics of the product and which justify a price difference of sometimes 4000% compared to a liter of ordinary water.
- Promote your product through any platform, as in the case of British Airways (tables 22 to 28 of the matrix).
- Talk about the people who are part of your company and the excellent treatment that your employees provide to the customer, as in the case of Balay Appliances (table 32 of the matrix).
- Narrate the quality processes used in your organization to differentiate themselves from the rest ( this Chipotle video is masterful , for example, and it would be found in table 36 of the matrix).
- Give physical evidence of what you offer through the testimonial of employees, customers or the description of the product. An example of this is that of the Niikiis employee management platform , which explains a story that would fit well in boxes 44, 46 and 47, for example.
- Explain, through narratives, why your product or service is the way it is and is delivered in certain sizes or functionalities (boxes 1 to 7). For example, the IPhone 12 and this funny story of the cook who mistreats it .
- Tell why you distribute in certain places and not in others, such as when Apple explains how to operate the Apple Card (boxes 15 to 21).
Do not confuse marketing with promotion, as there are other factors (prices, people, product, place , processes and physical evidence) that are also part of your marketing strategy.
Do not confuse storytelling with marketing, because stories tell much more, in addition to the advantages and characteristics of the products and services.
Finally organize your knowledge in marketing and combine it in a systematic way with your narrative ideas. You will see how you increase your reach in every way.