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A CMO Survey Shows Us How Classic 4Ps of Marketing Are Changing

The CMO Survey Shows Us How Classic 4Ps of Marketing Are Changing

A year after starting the role, a new retail CMO was frustrated. The job description discussed in the courtship didn’t match the reality:

“To his surprise, his role was limited mostly to marketing communications, including advertising and social media. He had no responsibility for (and limited influence over) product launches, pricing, and store openings. The problem, he told us, wasn’t that his skills prevented him from meeting the company’s goals; it was that the job was so poorly designed – and there was such a mismatch between the CMO’s authority and the CEO’s expectations – that it would be difficult for anyone to succeed in it. Soon after he spoke with us, the CMO left the company.”

That’s how Kimberly Whitler and Neil Morgan opened their Harvard Business Review article – Why CMOs Never Last.  At this point, the article is a little more than a year old, but it struck a nerve with many in marketing because it was evidence of the troubled relationship the CMO has with the CEO.

The 1P of Marketing?

s-The 1P of marketing

Although that evidence was anecdotal, there is data to support it. I noticed some as I was reviewing the data from the latest survey of CMOs out of Duke.  Here’s an example from page 57 (pictured nearby):

  • 72% of CMOs say they have a leading role in promotion;
  • 34% of CMOs say they have a leading role in new products;
  • 31% of CMOs say they have a leading role in pricing; and
  • 25% of CMOs say they have a leading role in market selection.

Those statistics track closely to the 4Ps of Marketing – product, price, place and promotion. The 4Ps is the classic construct that articulates the four traditional levers available to drive growth. As the name implies, these levers have customarily been reserved for marketing to pull, but that’s clearly changing, as there is greater emphasis is on promotion.

Is Marketing Getting Broader or Deeper?

That survey also concluded the role of marketing has broadened in the last five years. Indeed, the senior marketers that took the survey said as much. It seems true because the list of duties added to the marketing role are growing longer and now count data, analytics, technology and customer experience, among many others.

Still, the data on page 57 tells a different story. It says that two-thirds of marketing shops have a leadership role in just one function: promotion. One could argue many of roles perceived as broadening of marketing, actually provide more depth to the classic pillar of promotion.

The data? It’s for targeting – that’s promotion. The analytics? It provides feedback to tighten the message – that’s promotion. The technology? It’s all largely for message dissemination – that’s promotion.

This depth has come at the expense of width, where most senior marketers have acquiesced on product, pricing and place. It’s a testament to just how much marketing has changed.

The sophistication we’ve seen added to promotion is also true of the other 3Ps. For example, in B2B technology businesses, there is so much complexity, it’s a necessity to carve out specialization in product management. You’ll find similar examples in pricing and place, whether that’s a choice in vertical target markets or the location of a new storefront.  Everything is more involved today, and so depth is essential.

Where I think we go wrong is we get so deep and so focused, we lose situational awareness.  Marketing shops clearly need to develop deep expertise in modern digital promotion, while also keeping an eye on the classic principles. Product, place and price, all pose constraints and limitations to promotion, so marketing has a vested interest in staying involved in the strategy upstream.


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Photo credit: Unsplash

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