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Marketing and 4 p’s (or is it the magic 23)?
– Time to expand our thinking

Quotation – Marketing – Marketing Mix      


The Marketing Mix(The 4 P’s of Marketing)

 Marketing decisions generally fall into the following four controllable categories:



      Place (distribution)



The term “marketing mix” became popularized after Neil H. Borden published his 1964 article, The Concept of the Marketing Mix. Borden began using the term in his teaching in the late 1940’s after James Culliton had described the marketing manager as a “mixer of ingredients”. The ingredients in Borden’s marketing mix included product planning, pricing, branding, distribution channels, personal selling, advertising, promotions, packaging, display, servicing, physical handling, and fact finding and analysis. E. Jerome McCarthy later grouped these ingredients into the four categories that today are known as the 4 P’s of marketing, depicted below.

What a shame a wonderful ‘road map’ of even this limited (as above), stated vision, was so truncated by reducing it to 4 p’s alone! A bit like giving a road map to Brisbane that didn’t include such important identifiers as ‘check when you get to ‘Whyalla’ that you have made the right directional decisions. A hint that Brisbane via Whaylla was a long way around and bound to cause problems! Better look for ‘Mildura’ to know you are on the right track (if getting there fastest was the objective– otherwise if the purpose was retirement and just wondering was the objective, then Whyalla may be a great way to go? A ‘road map’, a complete check list! 

This analogy might confuse but is given as an example of a check list with more references than collecting everything under ‘4’ and hoping you know enough to develop a ‘drop down list’ of more identifiers.

So, the concept of only 4 p’s at the very least, misses the such important and unavoidable ‘p’ of ‘position! How can any of the p’s be considered without the ‘p’ of ‘position’! What place to distribute, what channel to distribute through, what actual product to produce, what price to charge without the ‘p; of position, what target audience to promote to? 

How does an ‘product matrix’ get developed without going through that important consideration of ‘position’ (price, quality, size, value, etc.?)

A product matrix is a structure for analysing product information based on comparisons of various characteristics such as color, size, material, quality, price, distribution, or any combination therein with the view of identifying opportunity or threat. The current offering and the ‘opportunity gap’ in the current or developing marketplace. The deBono ‘po’!

When the original ‘4 p’s are considered alone, the majority of effort is about ‘price and product innovation’. And ‘product innovation too often is bought back to price alone and what someone thinks the market can bear. Obviously true marketers look past this, but the majority of focus and conversation is about price; in times of ‘global crisis’ there is the deafening call to ‘meet the price of fail’!

What the ‘market’ really needs is innovation and invention across the entire range of thinking and so to that effect let’s consider the ‘stated 4’ and the  ‘secret ‘4’ of current thinking and the additional ‘15’ listed here that bring the marketing mix to ‘23’! A useful check list of potentially exceptionally important paradigm breaking, surpetitous thinking!

Price’, ‘product’, ‘promotion’ and the oddly named ‘place’ are important. Adding to those, to consider alongside or even before are  

  • ‘Position’ – where the above somewhat ‘sacred 4’ and the new and energised 17 happily find their place and fit – are defined
  • Pool Resources – collaborate, understand each other’s needs, ‘big pictures’, goals and work to achieve synergies where you can – look for surpetitious solutions using the power f ‘1+#…’
  • The already named but hidden(above) 
    • ‘People’ – do we need as many, doing the same job as eons ago or do we go to market using other methodologies and use people in other ways? Level of experience / product knowledge / ability to train clients to help support their own needs ….
      • From ‘people’ we need ‘Performance management’ or we do not harness and maintain the effect and value of ‘people’ in fact they can become more a liability than an asset
      • Participation is about ‘buy-in’ and development of ideas past the value of the initiator – people undertaking work they believe in – maybe Passion should also be ‘p’ word? Have you ever encountered a ‘seller’ lacking passion and if so, how hard did that make it to buy?

o   ‘Packaging’ – this isn’t just about putting less in and making it bigger, making it more colourful, adding on ingredients or ‘fat content’ but about collecting purchase potential into groups and associate selling, selling the product and after sales service as one, training and product, – some of these are done but usually just pale copies of another’s offer so much more could be done


o   ‘Physical handling’ – not just how the product gets to market but qualities, ease of access, need to purchase personally or not and again ‘so much more’

o   ‘Planning’ – strategy isn’t so important if implementation isn’t right. If channel training and appropriate promotion (reach & frequency and target marketing) isn’t spot o, the budgets run out the right people never get to know

There are the original ‘4’ ps brought into some perspective –as well as the somewhat hidden ‘4’ with the associated ‘3’ mentioned within those ‘4’ 

How about if it was 23 p’s?

Let’s get our minds off of the ‘original 4 p’s and consider the 23p’s including in addition to those above

  • Purpose – the very essence of the organization – is it just about pure profit, market domination or are there internal drivers of another nature – the raison d’être
  • Paradigm recognition and then outside the paradigm, the box, thinking to find new ways, new opportunities?
  • ‘Process’ – getting the 95% picked right first time up to acceptable, the credits processed in the same month, invoices and statements that are reconcilable! Many an organisation has triumphed with less product differentiation and even higher prices because they were much easier to deal with. Web enabled ordering, stock availability, afterhours access, stock tracking, correctness of price files etc etc etc
  • ‘Pre-negotiation’ – deBono talks about the concept of ‘with the benefit of hindsight’! In many if not most cases, we know what / how our client / customer (different terms for different psychographics / demographics) are going to react to our ‘offer’ and yet so often / too often we go into this thing mistakenly called ‘negotiation’ ‘or lamb to the slaughter’ just to be controlled by our client and our own lack of preparedness. Confidence. Market research. Why not anticipate the discussion and lead into a more controlled environment where we effectively led that conversation to a point we want to achieve – and that is not about giving away margin but establishing a true win-win – one that allows the seller to maintain enough margin to service the ‘tomorrows’ and the buyer to prosper – much more than just dollars and cents!
  • ‘Po’ – “Po” is an idea which moves thinking forward to a new place from where new ideas or solutions may be found. The term was created by Edward de Bono as part of a lateral thinkingtechnique to suggest forward movement, that is, making a statement and seeing where it leads to. It is an extraction from words such as hypothesissupposepossible and poetry, all of which indicate forward movement and contain the syllable “po.” Po can be taken to refer to any of the following – provoking operation, provocative operation or provocation operation.
  • ‘Potential’ – awareness of the business to grow particular clients and for clients to understand what other services are available ….
  • ‘Providores’  – relationship with suppliers – quid pro quo etc / pricing / delivery / availability …..
  • ‘Public Relations’ – 3rd party recommendation / testimonials / articles / journals / talks at clubs ….. sure these things can be include no ‘promotion’ but also easily lost
  • ‘Purchasers’ – target markets, target audiences, influencers, decision makers, authorisers, uses – a different message, different features and benefits to each group – get it wrong, miss a market, spend the budget and not make the connection!
  • ‘Persuasion’ – this ‘p’ attracts to so many of the ‘p’s – is about conception and implementation and sustainability

Go on, argue about this why don’t you. 

Argue that knowing that ‘Whyalla’ isn’t on your route to Brisbane and how that wasn’t important to know! However, you slice it, a useful checklist to help define the offer and to give courage to find new ways to connect to your purchaser is if ever now, imperative. Margins are tight and so finding alternatives while always important is now ever so much more. 

Knowing that even want to go to Brisbane and that you didn’t need to go via Whyalla in order to make the best of the opportunity in Brisbane or, that the real opportunity wasn’t the trip itself.

If one uses these ‘21’ as a check list, then the focus will rightly move from the concentration on price that seems to overpower so much of all discussion in marketing. There is so much more to ‘getting it right’ and the hidden opportunity is on the more abstract such as ‘getting the process right, making sure the people are fully on-board and passionate.


Put your offering to the test – where can you expand your communication, your concepts, your overall ‘offering’ so that your differentiation stand up and you can define your market to suit you!

Rex Buckingham, Principal
6th April 2020

The ‘23’ p’s – Product; Price; Place; Promotion; Position; People; Performance Management; Participation; Passion; Packaging; Physical Handling; Planning; Purpose; Process; Pre-Negotiation; Po; Potential; Providore; Public relations; Purchasers; Persuasion, Pool Resources!

The marketing ‘check-list’ to put you in an advanced sustainable situation.

‘P’ to consider


















Pool Resources






Performance Management 












Physical Handling Planning 





















Public relations









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