The Real 5th ‘P’ of Marketing: People

Many of us were first schooled on the “Four Ps of Marketing” popularized by Philip Kotler in his book, “Principles of Marketing.” I still have my copy on a bookshelf close at hand as many concepts are timeless.

Over the years, a brave few have tried to add “profit” to the ever-present four of price, place, promotion and product. I argue that if you do the original four correctly, profit should come along for the ride. 

In 2013, Kotler made the observation that businesses that were “firms of endearment” were highly profitable. “If a company has the interest of customers, employees and the supplier aligned to its business, then it will make everyone happy, thus improving the overall profitability of the business,” Kotler said.

The heart of Kotler’s “endearment” is accomplished by the mindful consideration of the true “P”: people. This “P” has come to the forefront as my IDC colleagues and I have been exploring the topics of customer and employee experience and the link between them. 

To underscore the notion of good employee experience’s effect on success, talent managers need to look no further than the recently published Fortune list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.” The list is diverse, but one thing shines through: The companies included are very successful.

There are many services companies that rely on their employees to deliver a delightful customer experience, such as Four Seasons Hotels. But perhaps a bit surprising is that a regional supermarket, Wegmans Food Markets, would crack the top 10 at No. 7.

Wegmans is beloved by customers to the point that the company has a name for such customer devotion: “Wegmaniacs.” No doubt Wegmans excels at the other four Ps, but devotion to the fifth, people, runs from top to bot tom throughout the company’s DNA. This is most evident by the company’s published employee philosophy: “You take care of our customers, we’ll take care of you, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Of course, culture and policies alone won’t deliver on the promise of a great employee experience. Organizations need the right technology to support experience. Every interaction that touches the job candidate, employee and retiree needs to be self-evident and increasingly consumerlike.

Digital technologies like mobile and social are becoming table stakes in keeping a multigenerational workforce happy.

Think in terms of how your organization interacts with prospects and customers as those practices can translate to the workforce. Examples involving newer digital technologies include:

  • Allow candidates to view positions and apply via mobile — the pre-hire experience is critical to set the tone for the road ahead.
  • Get new hires involved from the beginning by linking them socially to their new team.
  • Let employees know how they will be measured, and give them tools to track their progress continuously.
  • Recognize excellence publicly and often, and enable peers to recognize one another.
  • Develop the workforce and show how the organization is investing in the employee for both employees’ personal growth and the success in achieving the company’s business objectives.
  • Enable collaborative learning to help increase the efficiency of whole teams.
  • Give managers and leaders the ability to take care of routine tasks while on the go via their mobile devices.
  • Start determining what workforce metrics will help your organization make the right talent decisions.

Many of the leading vendor talent products offer the capabilities described. You just need to see what’s available and implement. According to IDC research, such uptake of social technology in talent is slow, with an average penetration rate of just 15 to 20 percent.

While statements about the importance of the workforce appear on the majority of mission statements that get published, one doesn’t always believe that such statements are more than perfunctory.

IDC research is indicating that the connection between the employee and the customer warrants more than lip service. Success is going to demand it.

 Put your talent systems to work to achieve that fifth “P” — or you may find that you will get left behind by your competitors that do.