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The Four P's or Four C's of Marketing

The Voice - SMEI - August 1996

By Theo Muller


Remember the four P's of marketing? Product, Price, Promotion and Place (distribution). For decades marketing students learned that the marketing concept revolves around the four P's and the marketing plan they wrote in the 70's and 80's testify to that fact. So I ask myself "where does the customer fit into this concept?"

To make a point, let me introduce you to another marketing concept, ie the four C's -Customer, Customer, Customer, Customer (or client if preferred).

Marketing of the 90's centres on customers and just as well. We would not have a business without them. The focus on customers inspired a new wave in marketing thinking, ie Relationship Marketing. Philip Kottler defines Relationship Marketing as "a key strategy for the 1990's". How true!

If we now combine Relationship Marketing with another business concept, ie the 80/20 rule, then a focus on customers makes even more sense. The 80-20 rule suggests that 20% of one's customers generate 80% of business. This is particularly the case for service providers and industrial marketers. (The 80/20 rule does not always apply in a retail situation).

So, it pays (handsomely) to look after these top customers and make sure that they are not just satisfied with our product or service but in fact delighted with it. We cannot take our customers for granted, we cannot think that they will be our customers forever, and we certainly cannot think that we have a divine right to their business. It only takes a competitor to out-perform us in terms of overall client satisfaction, and we stand to loose a large chunk of our business.


Here are some questions to ponder:

  • Have you ever checked the 80/20 rule in your business?
  • What do you know about your top customers?
  • Have you ever found out what their needs/wants and expectations are?
  • Are your top customers happy with your performance, and are there any areas where you can improve?
  • Are there any areas where your competitor is outperforming you in the overall relationship with your client and, if so, what are you doing about it?


The 1990's are the decade of the customer and if our customer does not play a prominent role in our overall marketing strategy - our approach to business is due for an overhaul.


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