The 44 P’s of Marketing

The four P’s of marketing is a common concept. But it's hopelessly incomplete. Here's a little more comprehensive look at what marketing is about.

Stand Out with a Sharp Message

  • Why USPs and branding rarely increase sales
  • Why exceptional companies get lost in the crowd
  • How to ensure all of your marketing creates a cohesive, memorable brand image

Case Studies

Peter first improved my messaging, so it became clearer what to focus on to stand out. I have broken my revenue goals multiple times since then.

Inez Vermeulen

Europe HR Solutions

Almost no one can differentiate themselves in our industry, but now we have a marketing message that clearly separates us from competitors.

Mikki Aalto-Ylevä

Haltu Oy

Peter brought clarity to our marketing. We’ve approximately doubled our online sales each year since then.

Halfdan Hansen

Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith

Peter makes [marketing] so much clearer that it feels like you have a crystal ball that tells what’s going to happen next.

Jukka Knuutinen


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We will discuss your positioning, messaging, and overall marketing plan. You will see the practical steps it would take for you to STAND OUT from the competition and drastically increase your profit.

The four P’s of marketing is a common starting place for planning marketing. But marketing is much more than your advertisement. Everything you do is a part of your marketing.

The 44 P’s of marketing is a more comprehensive list of things to consider when you market anything.

1. Packaging

Packaging is one of the four P’s of marketing. If no one notices your product, no one will buy it. And if no one wants to buy your product after seeing it, no on will buy it. Many companies spend millions in packaging design. And for some huge brands that’s a sound investment.

Whatever you sell, you need to think about the packaging. If you sell a service, the packaging means the way you and your employees look, your website, and everything else your customers see of you before the purchase.

2. Pain

Do your potential customers have fears associated to your product? In most cases they do, even if they don’t know it.

For example people who buy a car fear accidents, high maintenance costs, pollution, and what the car does to their status. If you don’t know what they fear, you may easily induce fear instead of using it to your advantage.

3. Pandemic

Is there a reason why people would spread your advertisement or story? You cannot create an advertisement, which would certainly go viral. But you should try.

Create something highly valuable or entertaining and people will gladly spread it. Content marketing is in part so effective because of this.

A wonderful example is Toyota’s Swagger Wagon. Toyota created a rap music video for a car (Sienna SE), which went viral. At the time of this writing over a million people had seen it. It wasn’t certain that so many people would see the ad, but it was likely. It’s really entertaining, so why wouldn’t you tell your friends about it?

4. Part

This is one of the core aspects of marketing. What’s the part your product will play in the customer’s life? If it’s an important part, people spend more time thinking about their options; you can’t hard sell a house through advertising. Your marketing has to fit your product into the part it plays in the minds of your customers.

5. Party

Is there a group of users that form a tribe that customers can join when they make the purchase? Users’ discussion forums, private meetings, or special content?

People want to belong to groups. These groups are often the best marketing tools you have. They help other members with problems, and intensify the feeling that you provide something meaningful.

6. Pass-along value

Will the product hold its value? You can of course market and sell successfully products that are meant for one time use only. But you need to take this into account.

Resell value is most important in expensive purchases. I’m surprised car manufacturers don’t use this to their advantage. “Our cars hold their value better than any other cars.” That would make a difference to me. Would you listen? Unless you’re a Rockefeller, you’d probably pay attention.

7. Peers

Are there others using your product? Social proof is maybe the most effective way to gain trust. Social proof is relatively easy to deliver. Quotes, pictures, videos, recordings… Use an image of the person who refers the product. It makes the recommendation more effective.

When you provide social proof, you lend the credibility of that person to your product. So, a well-known person providing the recommendation is always better than a “nobody”. But a “nobody” is much better than no social proof at all. It works because people want the certainty that a decision will pay off. If someone has already took the risk, and proved it to be worth it, there’s more certainty.

8. Perceptiveness

Intuitive products, especially technological products, are a pleasure to use. There’s nothing more frustrating than to know you can do something with a product, but you just don’t know how.

Apple’s computers and iPhone’s are so popular because of this. They work, as you’d guess them to work, if you’d never touched a computer before.

There’s probably no better example of this than a poor one. After 9/11 a company decided to create a parachute for such situations. They were invited to demonstrate the use of the product in a TV-show. What happened, was that they couldn’t figure out how to put on the parachute. And you’re supposed to do it in seconds when you see a plane coming your way… As far as I know, the product was never released.

9. Personas

This is one of the core ideas of marketing. Marketing should always be directed to a specific group of people. “Specific” doesn’t necessarily mean a small group, but a clearly defined group. Unless you understand who buy from you, you can’t target them with your marketing.

Create buyer personas for each different buyer type. You can then target your marketing straight to them..

10. Picture

A picture says more than a 1000 words. People notice pictures more easily than words. Especially close-up pictures of people’s faces capture our attention. This is why women’s magazines nearly always have a close-up picture of a face on their cover.

To understand a phrase, you need to read it. To understand a picture, on an intuitive level, you only need to glance at it. Reading takes time, glancing doesn’t. Don’t expect people to take the time to read.

There’s a great rule of thumb for moviemakers, “70% of information should be conveyed through pictures (the rest with sound).” Use the force of pictures to tell your story whenever possible.

11. Pilot

People want certainty and there’s no better way to get certain about a purchase, than to test the product first. You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it first, would you?

The larger the purchase the more important this is, but even the smallest purchases are easier when you can put your mind at ease. If, for any reason, you cannot offer a free trial, at least offer a nearly free trial and a money back guarantee.

AWeber, the email list company, does just that. They charge $1 for the first month of service. With this they discourage people to sign up for the service if they’re not serious about the purchase. But with a 30-day money back guarantee they make the investment irrelevant.

12. Placebo

A placebo is a fake medicine, given to some patients (without their knowledge) to test the effects of a real drug. If there’s no difference between results, the real drug doesn’t actually work.

You cannot sell a placebo. You might be able to sell it for a while, but sooner or later you’d be caught. And this doesn’t apply to medicines only. Whatever you sell has to be authentic. Your product has to meet the expectations people give to it.

13. Planning

The most important part of marketing is the research for it. Understanding your story, your customers, and the general situation takes time. And most people don’t spend enough time planning.

You can spot a poorly planned marketing message instantly if you know what you’re looking for. It’s not clear on what it’s selling, it’s not directed to anybody in particular, it doesn’t catch your attention, and so on. Do your planning well, and you’re halfway ready for marketing (check out 25. Premeditation for the next half).

14. Planting

It’s said, you believe what you hear/see 10 times. This is why unnoticed marketing can work. Exposure to a product, brand, idea, or whatever else, creates familiarity. And when in doubt, people choose the most familiar option.

To plant an idea into your prospects’ mind, you need to reach them through different channels. Whenever you consider using multiple channels for marketing, consider your buyer personas carefully; you need to reach the same prospects with all channels.

15. Playfulness

You’re marketing message doesn’t have to be playful. But you do need to consider the mood of it. An advertisement without emotion will never work. Using emotion is a necessity.

But which emotion should you use? “People walk towards, and run away.” People will generally work harder and more rapidly if they’re avoiding something bad, than if they’re working to gain something. But if you associate negative emotions to your product, no one wants it.

You can use all emotions and moods in marketing. You just need to understand how your prospects will understand and associate the emotions.

16. Pleasure

How will your product make the user’s life happier? People strive for happiness and they make decisions based on that. Unless they believe your product will make them happier in some, way for some reason, they won’t buy it.

Sometimes the message is as simple as, “Our new pizza tastes good!” Good food and happiness are closely related in our minds. But in some cases the connection isn’t as clear, “The new content management system makes handling projects more efficient.” But still the promise is the same, “Buy this product and you’ll be happier.” (see 21. Positivity).

17. Plot

In a sense all other P’s of marketing are a part of this.

Marketing is storytelling. Nothing more, nothing less. You don’t (and you can’t) market a product, service, person, or anything but a story. It’s the story of your product that you’re marketing.

The story tells what the product is, what it does, how it feels, is it good, what kind of a person uses it, and so on. It’s much more then the facts.

You tell your story with your marketing. If people don’t believe your story, they won’t buy your product.

18. Politics

A charismatic figure is a good marketing trick. Steve Jobs with his presentations sold more Macs than the Apple marketing department. People want to be “lead”. A trustworthy leader is more than social proof. People intuitively believe a leader to have a positive vision for the future. And they want to follow the leader to that vision.

19. Porn

People and all other animals survive only as long as they reproduce. The need for feeling attractive is embedded into us. We avoid anything that makes us less attractive, and we go to great lengths to look gorgeous.

Pretty much anything and everything can be marketed with sex. And pretty much everything is marketed with it. The few advertisements that use less-than-perfect-looking models stick out because of that. But even those ads often sell the feeling of being attractive.

Consider if users will feel more attractive because of your product. If that’s possible, consider using that in your marketing message. But you still need to be remarkable enough to be noticed (see 41. Purple Cow); there are already too many shampoo advertisements that look alike.

20. Positioning

Positioning is one of the basic four P’s of marketing. It has a couple of angles to it. First: you must notice a marketing message, to be affected by it. Second: positioning changes your message.

You wouldn’t pay for ad space under a bridge. There’s no one there to see your message. So, no matter how little you pay for it, it’s a waste of your money. At the same time you probably know (at least you should know) the best places for you marketing. Places where your potential customers will notice it. And remember that not all of your customers use the same medias.

Where your message is, affects the message itself. A trusted place like a newspaper will lend a part of its credibility to your message. This also works the other way around. Low-trust placement will take away your message’s trustworthiness.

21. Positivity

Leave a feeling of control and positive determination. Even if you use fear as a motivator, people should feel positive because they know what to do next (buy your product that will help them).

22. Praises

Reviews work as positive reinforcement for the action the customer should make. Reviews by trusted sources provide proof for your story. They take away the feeling of risk that’s always present when you buy something.

23. Prediction

This includes many of the other P’s of marketing. What do you predict will happen if you buy a product is the most important question you ask yourself when you decide whether or not to buy something. Even if you’re only thinking about the next 5 minutes, the prediction determines your decision.

24. Preference

If your potential customers use a competitor’s product, you need to convince them to take a risk. People feel safe with a product they’ve used. They’re unlikely to switch to your product without a very convincing reason.

You can compare your product to the other one, to illustrate the differences as well as the similarities. The similarities can turn your product from unnecessary risk to worth checking out.

You can also go for a more aggressive approach. Break your competitors product. Obviously I’m not suggesting vandalism. Break the competitive product, like email is breaking fax. Either make a product so superior that people will voluntarily make the switch, or if you’re a cell phone operator you could get the iPhone exclusively. That would “break” AT&T for many people.

25. Premeditation

No body can ever guarantee the success of a marketing campaign. But premeditation will make the success much more likely.

Before you ever launch your campaign you should become the devil’s advocate. Look closely at all the aspects of your campaign. If there’s anything you haven’t considered, do so before you start to market your product.

26. Press

Social media is the press of the 21st century. If you want your marketing to work, you need consider how to tie it to social media. Competitions, giveaways, etc. are all great ways to engage people through social media.

27. Pressure

Create a sense of urgency. People are reluctant to act, and the longer they wait the less likely the action becomes. Time-sensitive offers are just one way to create urgency.

Another effective way to create pressure is to appeal to people’s sense of status. “Be the first…”, “Your friends already do it…”, “If you’re smart, you’ll…” You can use this egoistic side of people, to create pressure.

28. Preview

The purpose of marketing is to have your potential customers imagining themselves using your product. If they create this preview in their heads, you’re a lot closer to getting a lead.

This is another reason why you should use pictures in marketing. It’s easier to create a mental picture based on pictures, than words. This is also a very powerful sales technique: have the prospect imagine using the product, and have them describe how it feels. In both cases, they get the good feeling of having your product. Deciding not to buy after that experience, feels like they lose something.

29. Pricing

Pricing is one of the basic four P’s of marketing. Understanding what people are willing to pay for your product is essential. Even if you nail every other P of marketing, the pricing can screw up the whole thing.

A low price lessens the product’s perceived value. It can even lower the perceived value below what you’d expect from a free gift.

But if your product is too expensive for your customers, they won’t buy it. When a customer is choosing between two products with near identical qualities, pricing becomes very important. And the cheaper one usually leaves the shelf.

30. Priest

Nothing has ever been marketed as well as religions. The reason religions have succeeded so well, is the understanding of their audience’s worldview. Priests, prophets, cult leaders, and all spiritual leaders fit their words into the beliefs their listeners hold.

Changing the worldviews of your audience is extremely difficult. It takes too much time and resources for most companies. Instead of changing the beliefs, shape your message to fit the beliefs your audience holds..

31. Prince

Like the small girls who dream of a prince who comes to pick them up, all people dream about something. A product that answers a common dream will succeed.

You might dream about status: a BMW can answer that dream. It could be about your family: a travel agency can fulfill that one with a family holiday. Or maybe you dream of the perfect music experience: many hi-fi sound companies attempt to turn that dream into reality. You need to know the dream you’re fulfilling.

32. Principles

People have their own principles. And they generally hold on to them tightly. Your marketing message cannot oppose these principles. Instead you can use the principles to your advantage.

You like your principles and you like others who share the same ones. This applies to products as well as people. You like products that reinforce your principles or at least work in accordance with them.

33. Product

The product is yet another one of the basic four P’s of marketing. A great product is much easier to market for several reasons. There are more good things to market. It will create word of mouth marketing. It will exceed customers’ expectations. And so on.

34. Production

Ethical and ecological factors are becoming more and more important. If your product has any positive ecological or ethical ideologies, production methods, or aspirations, you should mention it. These things aren’t important to everybody, but a growing number of people make their decisions based on these factors.

35. Prominence

Marketing needs observers, people to be affected. If your marketing message isn’t displayed prominently enough, it will fail. You’re most likely to notice something when you want to notice it. Features in newspapers, blogs, radio, TV, and other medias are therefor much more effective than paid advertising placements.

People have learnt to avoid paying attention to advertising. Content marketing is becoming more important because of that. Provide useful content as your marketing material, and people will not only pay attention to your “marketing” but even search for it.

36. Promises

A purchase is always a risk. You as the marketer should do whatever you can to make purchasing your product seem less risky. A specific and simple to understand promise creates the most certainty for the customer. Say something like, “It will last at least 5 years, no matter how you use it.” Not even “5 year guarantee” creates the same certainty, even if it means the same thing.

37. Proof

The reason many advertisements for medicines present doctors, is the authority and trust they create. People trust doctors when it comes to medicines. Use a trusted expert or a scientific study to demonstrate your products features, and hardly anyone will question the trustworthiness.

38. Properties

Some product properties are always necessary for a customer. If any of these properties is missing, you can’t make the sale. Identify what are the most important properties for your target audience. Then make sure that these properties, or at least the ones that aren’t absolutely obvious, are presented in your marketing.

39. Prosperousness

People are very aware of their perceived status. They’ll go to great lengths to defend their status. Marketing should make an implied promise of a status increase. With some products (cars, clothing, jewelry), the status aspect is obvious. But all products affect the feeling of status in some way.

40. Protection

Another way to make the risk of a purchase seem less intimidating is to promise help. For example you could effectively market a computer with the promise of customer service. Convey the idea that if anything goes wrong, someone will be there to help.

41. Purple Cow

Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow is about being remarkable. If you’ve seen a thousand cows, you think they’re boring. But if you then see a purple cow, it’s interesting. You need to get people interested, otherwise no one will buy your product. There are always many ways you can be remarkable. Your specialty can be something about your product or your marketing, as long as it gets you noticed.

42. Purpose

Why do people do charity work? They do it because of the purpose the work gives them. They feel they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. But giving purpose isn’t reserved for charities. You can easily market an ecological product with the feeling of purpose, “This book is printed on recycled paper that saves natural resources.” You could just as easily use ethical or political reasons.

43. Push

Your marketing should always push people into taking action. You can successfully create the desire, but still fail at creating action. Ideally you create enough push with the other P’s of marketing. But some things create push more than anything else. You could for example show people buying the product (also social proof), or provide a map to the nearest store that sells your product.

44. What’s the last P of marketing?

There are still lots of potential P’s. I got a lot of good suggestions from readers—and I’ll likely update this article with the best ones included at some point.

Writing this list took a lot of time. I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends, thanks.

Stand Out with Sharp Marketing Messaging

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  • Why USPs, value propositions, and branding rarely increase sales
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marketing messaging training

Peter first improved my messaging, so it became clearer what to focus on to stand out. I have broken my revenue goals multiple times since then.

Inez Vermeulen

Europe HR Solutions

Almost no one can differentiate themselves in our industry, but now we have a marketing message that clearly separates us from competitors.

Mikki Aalto-Ylevä

Haltu Oy

Peter brought clarity to our marketing. We’ve approximately doubled our online sales each year since then.

Halfdan Hansen

Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith

Peter makes [marketing] so much clearer that it feels like you have a crystal ball that tells what’s going to happen next.

Jukka Knuutinen


Schedule your FREE Stand Out Strategy session

We will discuss your positioning, messaging, and overall marketing plan. You will see the practical steps it would take for you to STAND OUT from the competition and drastically increase your profit.