The 4Ps of Marketing have changed!

Date:   Thursday , March 15, 2012

Narasimhan TUPIL (Nash),Chief Marketing Officer, Technology Services,
Hewlett-Packard, Asia Pacific & Japan

There is a beautiful quote by Albert Einstein that I always refer to, "If you cannot explain something properly, you have not understood it well enough". This holds especially true for those in the technology driven business.

As a marketing person, one is caught between two sets of people; one who are from a high tech background and converse in jargons like "delivery", "optimization", "Hybrid" etc. and second, the customers who have no ounce of understanding of these tech lingos and talk in terms of cost effectiveness of business, increased efficiency and more. The role of marketing here is to bridge this communication gap, i.e. simplify all of these technical terms with the customers.

For example, some of our latest servers have a sea of sensors. Earlier we used to cool the servers in an environment which is kept in freezing temperatures. Now, we have come to a state where different parts of the server can be cooled at different levels thus saving power and cooling bills. But how do you make a customer understand this. He is not interested in knowing how you managed to achieve this.

What he wants to know is how it can help his business. As a marketing manager, what one needs to talk to the customer is about the benefits of one’s product and not the nitty-gritty of it.

Thus, one can see that though the role of marketing has not changed much, but the dynamics of it has evolved. Looking back I would say that in today’s competitive technology world, the classical 4 "Ps" of marketing that one learns in B-schools would not work, especially in the services space. The classic four Ps of marketing are —Product, Place, Promotion and Price.

If we actually think of it, when we just talk about our products it does not work. "Pricing" also would not work just because I put a full page advertisement in the papers. "Promotion" and "Place" also serve similar purpose. Just because I have more channel partners does not mean I would sell more services unlike the products space.

What would work in the services space is the next three Ps which I would call as Process, People and the Proof. How you can make your services a successful one is by proving to your customers what you have done for your other customers. For us in HP, whenever the customer says HP has done a good job, that is the best marketing strategy. The best strategy is the satisfied customer who can speak for you and this is why we try to feature our own customers in our case studies to make this point hold value.

The second aspect is to show the process excellence. It is not a "one trick pony", but we have a great service engine getting great results. People are immensely important as to how a person handles a call, how he escalates a technology issue and how are we going to close this issue within 24 hours. How one tackles these problems is the only interest for a customer.

The third aspect is "people" because 'services' is all about people. It becomes very important to showcase our expertise. All our technologists need to talk to our customers and explain them how the service is going to benefit them. These are few of the elements where we try to showcase in marketing.

Over the years, I have realized that the best marketing strategy is one where one does not market oneself. Earlier this year in January, we organized a large event called the network university which targeted about hundred CIOs.

For the two day event, we partnered with the top companies and brought in experts from the industry, from the academia, the government and also did a proof of concept lab where we showcased cutting edge technologies like virtual communication, tele-conferencing, enterprise usage of smart devices, and so on.

This move was very much liked by our customers and also the attendees. Though there was hardly much talk specific to HP’s products and solutions, but we did find ourselves having tremendous leads for sales by the end of the event.

(As told to Vishwas Nair)