Strategic Marketing Planning Made Simple - The 4P Business Thinking Tool

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strategic marketing planning graphicAn effective strategic marketing planning framework is a must-have element for any small business that wants to become a big business "when it grows up".

Unfortunately, many small business owners have as much interest in strategic marketing planning as a turkey has for thanksgiving...none.

Part of the reason why they avoid this very important process is because consultants and MBAs have conspired to make it seem like a topic that only a micro-managers with a big budget could love.

In working with my consulting clients, I have developed a simple framework for helping the every day business owner articulate a plan for strategic engagement with the marketplace. I call it the 4P business thinking framework.

The 4P Business Thinking Framework is a robust system for matching your solution to the needs of a marketplace, and then communicating that match in a way that results in sales and profits. Here is a brief overview of the 4Ps of the 4P framework.

1. People (or Profile)

audience or customer profileFor you or your business to exploit a market opportunity or overcome an industry challenge, you must have a very clear definition of the target customer. In the B2B (business-to-business) space that customer may be an organization, but the approach must still be crafted with individual decision makers in mind.

In a B2C (business-to-consumer) context, you may have to define the demographic, psychographic or geographic profiles of your target prospects.

2. Problem

core customer problems decision dilemmaYou must clearly define the problem your marketplace is desperate to solve for which you have an answer. In business, many ships have crashed on the rocks of market indifference because a company manufactured a solution for which the market had no problem.

The time-proven approach to value innovation in business is to deeply examine the clearly identified challenges of the customer.

3. Process (or Product)

differentiating process or productWhat is your particular way of solving the market's challenge that differentiates you from every other competitor?

This 3rd P in the framework is where you have a chance to stand out from the crowd of competitors for solving the problem of your chosen target market. Your process or product must be meaningfully different.

4. Packaging - Passion/Personality and Proof

entrepreneurial passion and personalityThis last element is often flubbed badly by small businesses who blindly emulate the sanitized and often colorless communications of much larger firms. One of the embedded advantages a small business has is the ability to be "personal" and to communicate passion to the marketplace.

One large company that successfully communicates passion and personality in marketing is Southwest airlines. As a result of their commitment to personality in business, they continue to be rewarded with some of the highest customer approval ratings in the domestic airline industry.

Whether you manage a manufacturer of colorless widgets, or a buttoned-down professional service firm, you cannot afford to pass up the power of personality, passion and social proof in your marketing.

Some simple things you can do include digging through early stories of your company for narratives that may resonate, or capturing the experiences of your staff, clients and managers for your marketing campaigns.


Whether you're planning for a new product or service, approaching a new target market or writing a direct mail sales letter, the 4P framework can be used to create tremendous value in your marketing planning process.

Would you like to learn more about how to use the 4P framework to create momentum for your your business, community, or personal projects? The "Attention Leverage System" may be perfect for you.

Gogo Erekosima strategic marketing consultantGogo Erekosima, is the Lead strategist at Idea Age Consulting - a Business Development Consulting firm that helps solo, small and mid-sized businesses nationwide to grow using assets already hidden within the business itself.

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Strategic Marketing Planning Made Simple

Photo credits: Main Pic - jnatiuk | "Problem" - shho | "Process" - morph33 | "Packaging" - emospada

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