Thus came the evolution of the 4 Cs; Customer (needs and wants), Cost, Convenience, and Communication and SEVA; Solution, Education & Engagement, Value, and Access. Which, has served it’s purpose as well, at least in the interim. Everyone has an opinion and most, are even valid, therefore, we’ve added, omitted and relentlessly rearranged the mix. Never-the-less, even though the foundation and intent is still the same; the truth remains. The landscape has changed and therefore, so must we. So, when it comes to inbound marketing, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and throw in my two cents.
This isn’t news. The digital landscape has profoundly shifted how we interact and do business, therefore, defining the core elements from which to develop continues to evolve as well. When looking at marketing from an inbound perspective then, I’d like to add the 4 Es to the mix, Engagement, Education, Expectation and Experience and it’s by these standards that we should be gauging our effectiveness.
Your effective marketing campaign, above all, begins with a clear understanding of your customer and their needs. Each of the 4 Ps has been the variables you control in creating the marketing mix that will attract customers to your business. How you achieve this, through inbound marketing, depends on the 4 Es.
- Expectation– Your customers aren’t out looking for your “product” or “service” per se, they’re looking for a solution to something they’ve identified as a pain point. Adding to this, their standards are pretty high to boot. What does today’s consumer expect? Besides solving their problem, today’s consumer expects you to provide superior customer service and responsiveness, possess integrity and credibility, display professionalism, provide value, quality and convenience, as well as fulfilling the requirements of the other Es.
- Experience-Your customer’s experience begins from their very first visit to your site. The old adage still rings true; you only get 1 chance to make a good first impression. How they perceive you from the start will determine if it’s worth their time to stick around. How you position yourself with regards to your ability to meet their needs, will determine whether or not they do. Good design, easy navigation and engaging content using various multimedia approaches will contribute not only to their experience and perception of you, but also your credibility. Moreover, If you can offer something of perceived value before they leave in the form of free eBook or subscription, chances are good you’ll get their email address in return so that you can continue to engage with and address their pain with your solution.
- Education-More than ever, consumers want to and are prepared to make informed decisions about the products they buy. Establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry and differentiating yourself from your competition is crucial to your credibility and gives you an advantage over your competition because it’s your opportunity to shine. Offering whitepapers, eBooks, webinars and such that convey your core differences provide valuable information to your prospective customer, keeps them engaged and builds trust. If you don’t provide this element, you can be sure they’ll find someone who does.
- Engagement-It’s more important than ever to communicate with your audience, so you have to go where they are and engage with them. Whether you’re interacting with your audience through social media or even lead nurturing campaigns, your customer values your response. Not only that, your interactive engagement with your audience builds a sense of trust and loyalty. A huge plus to all. Remember, if they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t have given you their email address or liked your page in the first place.
By expanding our awareness of the expectations of today’s consumer, we find that the 4 Ps have simply evolved and Product, of course, is still relevant; it’s looking from the customer’s perspective and their needs which are the questions we must address before we bring our offering to the world. Place is still relevant, however, it’s the venues that have changed and therefore, your ability to be found is impacted in new and exciting ways. Value can easily trump Price in today’s digital world, and it’s within the many facets of the 4 Es where you have the opportunity to convey this. And finally, Promotion is as relevant as ever; again, it’s only where we provide this information that’s changed.
The 4 Ps have served a valuable purpose and now can take their seat as the foundation from which we build upon. Gone are the days of tunnel vision. By simply expanding your understanding of today’s market, you’ll gain a fresh perspective on how to reach your target market and find the evolution of the marketing mix is an exciting framework that is ever growing and expanding with us.