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The integrated marketing mix: translating the 4 P's into the 4 C's

Posted by James Hodgson on April 4, 2019 at 7:59 PM

The 4 P's of the marketing mix and how to convert these to the 4 C's to focus on customer needsEvery winning integrated marketing strategy has to include the right elements of the marketing mix. To help you do this, you can use the four P’s and four C’s.

If your latest marketing campaign didn’t provide the scalable success you were hoping for, it’s possible that you haven’t struck the perfect balance of the marketing mix. Knowing the definition of the marketing mix and its four P’s is one thing, but being able to successfully apply this theory to your campaign is more tricky than it sounds.

A winning integrated marketing strategy identifies the right balance of elements within the marketing mix and is able to take the four P’s and convert them into a customer-centric action plan based on the four C’s. When your marketing mix is spot on, and you’ve identified the perfect balance of its elements, your product will be reaching the right customers, with the right price at the right place and time.

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What are the four P’s of the marketing mix?

The marketing mix is a term which was originally coined (in the late 1940’s) by Professor Neil Borden of Harvard University. The marketing mix was later refined into the four P’s by Jerome McCarthy in his book, Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach (1960). The four P’s are used by marketers and advertising agencies all over the world when planning marketing strategies. These are:


Product refers to the product or service you’re offering your customers. Before you can successfully market a product or service, you need to be able to clearly define what it is you’re offering. If you’re selling a toy car, are batteries included? If you’re an IT company, what does your service include in the call out fee and what will be charged as an additional extra?


Once you’ve clarified the ins and outs of your product, you’ll need to attach an appropriate price tag to it. Price needs to relate to both the cost involved in producing the product and the perceived value of the product by your customers. In short, if your product and price are out of sync, you’re not going to sell as well as you would like. If you try to market a luxury car for R90 000 no one will believe it’s a luxury car and if you try to sell a cheaply made car for R900 000 you’ll run into the opposite problem.


Place relies on the first two P’s, and again relates to the product’s perceived value. You need to distribute your product through the right channels to reach the right market, with the right product at the right price, at the right time. If you’re selling a high-end range of cosmetics and you’re selling your product in local hardware stores, you’re unlikely to be successful.


Promotion refers to how you’re planning to raise awareness of the existence of your product offering, as well as how it differs from your competitors’ products. The promotional mix includes which media platforms you’ll use for advertising, as well as other forms of promotion such as personal selling, sales promotion and out-of-house advertising. How you promote your product (the right promotional mix) is crucial to its success.

Purely branded, a US marketing agency, shared a great explanation of each of the four P’s of marketing on their YouTube channel.

The four C’s of the marketing mix

As companies moved toward a more customer-centric business model, marketers needed to adjust the traditional four P’s (which focus mostly on product and profit) to be more customer focused. This led to the development of the four C’s.  Samuel Hulick of UserOnboard said “People don't buy products; they buy better versions of themselves.” The four C’s are thus crucial in ensuring your brand is customer-centric and moves your brand from more than just a product or service, towards a solution to a customer’s problem. 

A successful marketing campaign takes the four P’s of the traditional marketing mix and translates these into the four C’s.

Translating the 4 P’s into the 4 C’s

If you're looking to ensure that you're addressing customer needs, you can translate the 4 P's into the 4 C's to place the customer at the centre of your business' flywheel.

Why is adjusting your marketing mix important?

In the video below, HubSpot explains the importance of adjusting your marketing mix (and entire business strategy) to place your customer at the centre of everything you do.

Now, let's see how converting the 4P's into the 4 C's will help you achieve this.

Product becomes customer solutions

In the past companies developed a product and then used marketing to try and create a need amongst the mass market. To quote the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, “build it and they will come”. Nowadays, with instant access to information and solutions through the internet, businesses aren’t required  to create needs, butto develop products that can solve existing problems for customers. Businesses, therefore, should invest in thorough market research. When planning your products, you need to determine how you can provide solutions to your customers’ pain points. This way you’re not marketing a product, you're marketing a solution to their needs.

Price becomes customer cost

The price tag on the product is just one element of a product’s total cost to satisfy the customer’s need. Looking at the total cost to satisfy the customer’s need means considering what it costs the customer in terms of time (e.g. travelling to a shop), money (e.g. tax, petrol, parking fees), physically (e.g. weight gain from sugar content) and emotionally (e.g. the moral implications of eating meat). Ergo, what will this solution to the customer’s problem require of him/her?

Place becomes convenience

The shift from place to convenience refers to how easy (or difficult) it is for a customer to purchase from your business. Do you have an online store? Does it deliver? What is the additional cost of delivery? If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, are you conveniently located nearby your customers or do they have to drive for 40 minutes to get to your store? It’s all about the convenience of the entire customer experience. These are all questions which you need to address in order to offer your customer the most convenient solution. It’s important that your company processes don’t get in the way of the customer experience, or you’ll risk losing business. The user journey and user experience are more important than ever - Make sure that your path to purchase is as easy and simple as possible.

Promotion becomes communication

Traditionally marketing was a one-way, interruptive process. Promotion meant telling the world how great you are. Modern marketing has become a two-way conversation between brands and their stakeholders. You need to start listening to your customers, what are they saying about you on social? What do they need help with? How can you work with them towards a mutually beneficial solution? Consumer decisions are based on engagement with brands and their own communities. Be creative and engaging, and interact with consumers. Successful marketing attracts the right customers by earning their trust and loyalty and building meaningful relationships which add value to both parties.

And, if I am allowed to add a fifth C into the mix, that would be correction...

At Penquin, we see Correction as the fifth C in the integrated marketing mix. With access to big data and monitoring, it is possible to test and optimise campaigns on-the-go. Correction is based on research and optimisation.  

By monitoring the data you collect from your marketing and sales efforts, and listening consistently to trends and developments in the industry, you’re able to correct your sales and marketing strategies where necessary, ensuring better results. Don’t let your marketing efforts be a shot in the dark, and don’t wait for campaigns to end before you adjust them. Make sure you consistently listen to your audience, and adjust your message accordingly.

If you’d like to learn more about Marketing and how to set up integrated strategies. Click here and receive a full guide on integrated marketing.

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