Rethinking the 4 P’s

I just finished reading Ryan Holiday’s book The Perennial Seller and I recommend you pick it up. It’s a good read. Some of his examples are a bit of a stretch for me, as I do not work in the publishing or recording industry. Neither are overly applicable to me or what I do. However, in those examples lie numerous nuggets of goodness.

When discussing marketing, Ryan stated (and I’ll paraphrase) whether you like doing it or not, you always have to position, package and pitch. I love this thought. He was sharing it with writers who think that after you have gotten your words into print that your job is over. It’s not. You always have to position, package and pitch. In other words, market your product.

This got me to thinking about the traditional four “P’s” of marketing: Price, Product, Promotion and Place. Holiday’s three P’s mentioned above fall squarely into Promotion and Place. Pitch might be there, too.

From a creative’s perspective, we live mostly in Promotion. What if we had our own set of P’s to compliment the traditional set? I propose (yet another p-word):


This is a tidy way to describe a creative marketer’s process. Let’s add a little more color:

Position: I am a firm believer that getting the positioning right solves lots of problems. Read My Secret Recipe post.

Package: Packaging has historically been undervalued. I’m not just talking about the box your product comes in, but all the design that makes the product desirable. The UX, the aesthetics, the feel, etc. That’s packaging, and in recent times business has finally begun to wake up to the fact that it is of extraordinary value. Many claim design is the last serious competitive advantage. Us designer-types owe Apple some gratitude.

Pitch: My favorite. As a creative marketer, it should be your’s too because this is your time to shine. After the pitch, it isn’t about how good you are or what you brought to the process; it will be about the work. So make the most of this part.

Produce: Production is something I tagged on to the end of the process, because I am a creative professional who markets other people’s stuff for a living. You have to produce what you’ve positioned and packaged, otherwise there’s no chance it will ever be seen.

Production is not always the fun stuff. Although necessary and as important as other steps along the way, it can be less than glamourous. Production might be doing two dozen versions of the same ad to fit in all the various spaces. Not exciting, but often undervalued.

Rethinkng the four P’s: Positioning, Packaging, Pitching and Producing.

The funny thing is that this is a simple process. I’m not big on formulas or “tried and true” methods to solving problems that solve problems every time. Every problem is different. Every answer should be different, too.