Rethinking the 4 P’s

I just finished reading Ryan Holiday’s book The Perennial Seller and I recommend you pick it up. It’s a good read. Some of his examples are a bit of a stretch for me, as I do not work in the publishing or recording industry. Neither are overly applicable to me or what I do. However, in those examples lie numerous nuggets of goodness.

When discussing marketing, Ryan stated (and I’ll paraphrase) whether you like doing it or not, you always have to position, package and pitch. I love this thought. He was sharing it with writers who think that after you have gotten your words into print that your job is over. It’s not. You always have to position, package and pitch. In other words, market your product.

This got me to thinking about the traditional four “P’s” of marketing: Price, Product, Promotion and Place. Holiday’s three P’s mentioned above fall squarely into Promotion and Place. Pitch might be there, too.

From a creative’s perspective, we live mostly in Promotion. What if we had our own set of P’s to compliment the traditional set? I propose (yet another p-word):


This is a tidy way to describe a creative marketer’s process. Let’s add a little more color:

Position: I am a firm believer that getting the positioning right solves lots of problems. Read My Secret Recipe post.

Package: Packaging has historically been undervalued. I’m not just talking about the box your product comes in, but all the design that makes the product desirable. The UX, the aesthetics, the feel, etc. That’s packaging, and in recent times business has finally begun to wake up to the fact that it is of extraordinary value. Many claim design is the last serious competitive advantage. Us designer-types owe Apple some gratitude.

Pitch: My favorite. As a creative marketer, it should be your’s too because this is your time to shine. After the pitch, it isn’t about how good you are or what you brought to the process; it will be about the work. So make the most of this part.

Produce: Production is something I tagged on to the end of the process, because I am a creative professional who markets other people’s stuff for a living. You have to produce what you’ve positioned and packaged, otherwise there’s no chance it will ever be seen.

Production is not always the fun stuff. Although necessary and as important as other steps along the way, it can be less than glamourous. Production might be doing two dozen versions of the same ad to fit in all the various spaces. Not exciting, but often undervalued.

Rethinkng the four P’s: Positioning, Packaging, Pitching and Producing.

The funny thing is that this is a simple process. I’m not big on formulas or “tried and true” methods to solving problems that solve problems every time. Every problem is different. Every answer should be different, too.

2017.09.23 links

How Design Thinking Builds the World’s Best Business
From creating products to building companies, the principles of Design Thinking are what drive success for today’s best businesses.

Great Sales Presentation–Now, Leave Something Behind That Will Help Close The Deal

When Copy Loves Itself Too Much
I’m not a narcissist, but sometimes my copy is.

UX Designers: This is why your creativity is stalling
Creativity is a skill, a practice, a method — it’s work, not magic. And yet there are times when it won’t flow, when your brain chokes up and refuses to bring you anything new or interesting. It’s incredibly frustrating to be dependent on something you can’t always summon at will.

What Comes After User-Friendly Design?
The design industry needs a new way to talk to users–one that isn’t just friendly, but respectful.

So, does user experience design really exist?
A bit of rant, another of abstraction. Things that go by unspoken

Here’s What Happened To My To-Do List When I Embraced Procrastination
Surprisingly, it didn’t balloon out of control.

The Simple Way To Win New Business Using LinkedIn

Monasticism & How to Avoid Distraction

Prophetic Words from David Ogilvy to Ad Agencies, Sell or Else

Frank Baseman’s Inner Ben Franklin

The art of less: an advertising lesson from Bill Bernbach – and Bruce Lee
Less is more, so they say.

Everything I know about art direction & hiring I learned from DJ Stout

That’s DJ on the right.

I met DJ Stout in 1988, about a year after he had taken over art directing Texas Monthly. His first cover (above) became the biggest selling issue of the magazine to date. His second issue was the worst selling issue to date. There’s a lesson there, too. Maybe in another post.

He was invited to speak to the students in the Design Comm program at Texas Tech, his alma mater, by our guru, Frank Cheatham. DJ was very inspiring, sparking the imaginations of young and impressional students. A great guy, very generous with his time and insights. Had beers with him later that evening after the talk at 14th Street.

I met DJ again a couple of years later when he spoke at the Art Director’s Club of Houston. (Let’s be clear… we’re not fiends, or even acquaintances. I’m pretty sure if asked he could not pick me out of a police line-up.)

By this time DJ had already won a number of national and international awards for his work at Texas Monthly. Someone in the crowd asked him how he got to be such a great art director. He said:

Hire the best people possible and let them do their thing.

Simple advice. It is hard to argue his methods when you look at his track record.

But isn’t this good advice for hiring in general as well? And managing people, too. Work with the best people you can find and give them the space to be their best.

2017.09.17 Links

Where Does the Design Agency Go from Here?

Why Brands and Agencies Are Preparing for the Era of 6-Second Ads

Louis Danziger. Work. Think. Feel.
A few years ago a publisher asked Lou Danziger to give advice to art students. He offered these words – “Work. Think. Feel.” – and elaborated thus: Work: “No matter how brilliant, talented, exceptional, and wonderful the student may be, without work there is nothing but potential and talk.”Think: “Design is a problem-solving activity. Thinking is the application of intelligence to arrive at the appropriate solution to the problem.” Feel: “Work without feeling, intuition, and spontaneity is devoid of humanity.”

Advertising Is Becoming Part of The Gig Economy
Are short-term people and thinking the future of an imperiled industry?

Can agencies compete on creativity alone?

Defining a creative agency
It is a company that offers a combination of strategy, design, technology and advertising services to clients, it is creative or expert lead, it’s made up primarily of creative professionals, and it’s often strongly defined by values. They come in many shapes but knowing what you are is very important to growing as a company. Identity helps you understand what you are good at, where you create value and where you are headed.

Describe Your Ad Agency in Six Words or Less

A Stoic Response to Rejection

How Batman Made Me Fall In Love With Comic Books

A beautiful book

Celebrating Cipe
An Anthem for an Unsung Hero