Do the 4Ps Work in the B2B World??

17 Apr

Anyone who studied marketing knows the 4Ps.  Even those who didn’t can recite at least 3 of the 4; Product, Price, Place (a.k.a. Distribution) and Promotion.  The 4Ps were first talked about in 1960 by Jerome McCarthy and later published by one of the most famous marketing scholars, Philip Kotler in 1967.  Back in those days it was Mad Men, a consumer marketer’s dream.


For the last fifty years, these 4Ps have been ruling the marketing world but, business marketers have always been doing things differently than our consumer colleagues. The 4Ps model was never a good fit for B2B because business to business sales processes are complex, many are typically involved in the decision-making and products tend to be more sophisticated, very different from the consumer world.

Today, a lot is being written about finding better models for both consumer and business marketing. For B2B marketers, this is an opportunity to define a unique model that works and better fits business marketing than the traditional 4Ps. Why do we even need a model?  Models help marketers put context around the most common challenges we face and provide a framework to address complex business issues.

I recently came across a new model that was proposed by Solutions Insights a marketing consulting firm located in the Boston area. They provide consulting services promoting a customer-solutions focused business model. The model Solutions Insights proposes is appropriately named OVER; O = Offering, V = Value, E = Experience and R = Relationship.  

Below is Solutions Insights chart defining OVER and comparing it to the 4Ps:

Chart comparing the 4Ps marketing model to Solutions Insights' OVER model

Solutions Insights OVER model comparison to 4Ps

 I think it’s a pretty good one for B2B marketers. What do you think?


The 4Ps Are Out, The 4 E’s Are In, by Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Ogilvy and Mather

The True 4Ps of Marketing for B2B CEOs, by Michelangelo Celli

Solutions Marketing:  The four Ps are OVER, by Solutions Insights


3 Responses to “Do the 4Ps Work in the B2B World??”

  1. LoveStats April 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

    I’ve always wondered about the B2B distinction. Of course, it’s complex and yes many people are involved. But at its core, people are involved. And these people buying B2B products are the same self-centered and irrational people buying consumer products. Why must we treat them so completely differently?

    • Susan Lowe April 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

      Agreed. It is people who buy products, business or consumer. Marketing to consumers and business customers have distinctions because the buying behavior is different. Not to get too hung up on comparing consumer to business marketing, it’s really the thinking that the 4Ps isn’t an ideal model for B2B marketing and most likely needs to be redefined for today’s B2C marketing as well. Some of the new proposed models like OVER for B2B marketing take into consideration that most products are complex and custom (not mass produced), that a great deal of importance in the decision making process is placed on return on investment and the value of the product is a combination of the product and the experiences with service over an extended period of time. A decision to purchase is rarely made on a discount or promotions like it may be in the B2C market. These are some of the key differences between business and consumer marketing. (Although consumers do value product based on their overall experiences with the brand.)

  2. marketing April 25, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    It’s really a nice and useful piece of info. I am happy that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

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