“The purpose of marketing is to acquire and retain loyal customers, that is advocates, at a profit.” Paraphrased from The 4A’s of Marketing: Creating Value for Customer, Company and Society (2011), Jagdish N. Sheth and Rajendra Sisodia.

Marketers talk about the Marketing Mix. The Marketing Mix includes all the variables (and resources) a business combines to satisfy its target customer segment and includes tactics and programs that support Solution, pricing, distribution, and marketing communications strategy.

There are a number of models to assist with understanding the marketing requirements and then developing and then executing a Marketing Strategy.

A popular model is the 4Ps, as in Product, Place, Price, and Promotion, with product being about the attributes of the solution you have made, place being where and when you make your solution available, price being what customers are willing to pay for your solution, and promotion being about getting your customers aware of your solution and enthused enough to buy it.

The 4Ps marketing model was proposed by E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960 and is still in use. As great as the 4Ps model is, a criticism is that it is business-centric and not customer-centric. An example distinction between business- and customer-centrism, is that businesses like to make what they are good at making, not necessarily what prospective customers want and need, whereas a customer-centric organisation will firstly find out what prospective customers want and need, and then they will build that.

Read more about the 4 and more Ps models here.

Two other models exist that are more customer-centric than the 4Ps, the 4As, and the 4Cs.

According to Sheth and Sisodia, poor consumer knowledge and poor consumer knowledge management are behind most marketing failures. The authors base their model on the different and distinct roles that consumers play in the marketplace – seeker, buyer, payer, user, and then hopefully evangeliser.

Without customers, people who pay for a Solution, a business is nothing – it is not in business. Sheth and Sisodia assert that knowing what drives consumers is at the core of a successful marketing campaign, that is, that there is a Return on Investment (ROI), and therefore that marketing is an investment by business, not simply a cost.

Sheth and Sisodia maintain that there are four important consumer values in their 4As model – Acceptability, Affordability, Accessibility, and Awareness:

Acceptability – the dominant value, is the extent to which the Solution meets or exceeds a consumer’s expectations. At the core of acceptability is design, that is the “right Solution system with an attendant set of experiences, that satisfies the customers’ functional, social, and emotional requirements, that is, that solves the customers’ jobs well, every time.” Jobs To Be Done, Clayton Christensen.

Affordability – the extent to which consumers are able and prepared to pay for the Solution. Acceptability has two dimensions: economic, the ability to pay, and psychological, the willingness to pay.

Accessibility – the extent to which consumers are readily able to acquire the Solution. Accessibility has two components, availability and convenience.

Awareness – the extent to which consumers are aware of and informed about the Solution. Awareness has two components, brand awareness and Solution knowledge.

But wait, there’s more! To complete the alphabet soup of Marketing-Mix models we have the 4Cs, proposed by Robert Lauterborn in New Marketing Litany: Four Ps Passé: C-Words Take Over, October 1990, with the Cs representing Clients, Costs, Communications, and Convenience:

Clients – find what the customer wants and needs. Then create the Solution.

Costs – consider all costs in satisfying the customer, including costs that customers themselves will incur to find, purchase, use, and potentially dispose of your Solution.

Communication – what are all the communications and touchpoints between the business and the customer. For instance, how is a prospective customer going to learn of your Solution’s existence?

Convenience – how and where does the customer want to purchase?

Question: So, which model should you use?

Answer: All of them!

The models are all aids to thinking about the multidimensional challenge of acquiring and retaining advocates at a profit. You might have noticed that the models overlap, it’s like they are describing (modelling) different sides of the same coin, or should that be facets of a diamond? There is no singular correct model.

Whatever models you use, they will have limits to their applicability and therefore usefulness in your context. The key is to recognise when any limits have been reached and adapt the model to suit or find one that better suits your context.