July 20, 2016

The 5th 'P' of Marketing & Why it's Killing Your Sales

Every marketer knows the “4 Ps of Marketing”: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement. They’ve been around long enough for me to still hear my business school professor’s voice in my head, chanting them to us during lectures. They still ring true and recently, I’ve observed a fifth “P” emerge: Proof.

I have a B2B client right now struggling closing deals. They have a great product, price is competitive, decent promotion and placement — and yet they still can’t get it done. As I’ve been digging in to why the deals aren’t closing, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s not enough proof. 

They are not the first client in this fifth P category, either, and I believe the game has changed. Never has competition been so fierce. Each day, someone new hangs a shingle set out to eat your lunch. I talk to companies every day that say they have no competition. 

Bollocks. Everyone has competition. Maybe no one has the exact feature set or messaging or pricing or pitch, but they are in your market and trying to close the same deals with a similar offering. You need to figure out how to out-smart and out-market them. 

That’s where the fifth P comes in.


People want validation. Most people don’t want to be the first one to dive in the murky waters of the lake. They want someone else to go in first. Once they see it’s safe and there are no lake monsters (don’t judge), in they go. 

Your sales pitch is no different. Are there people who will buy because they get the value prop and want in? Sure. But relying on those types of deals will kill your pipeline. 

The power of proof is that it can sell your product for you. Here’s how:

1. Advocacy

Your customers love you. They bought your product right? Your product does something for them and they feel a certain way about your company because of how it makes them feel. 

Find the best way to make your customers your advocates and have them sell for you. Connecting with customers needs to be authentic, emotional, and engaging. If it feels phony or like a campaign, they won’t do it. 

Start by asking your customers to talk to you about the product. Ask how it helps them or makes them smarter or more-efficient or better or whatever. Ask why they decided to buy and what they would tell their friends. Now you have some pretty awesome testimonials (aka proof) that will set you apart. 

Listening to one customer talk about why they love your product is all your sales team needs to light the fire — and all your marketing campaigns need to add new life to conversion.

2. Loyalty

I recently heard the CMO of Time Warner Cable talk about driving loyalty and it was all about what she called “celebrating customers.” 

Time Warner was on a mission to really understanding their customers to drive innovation around incentives and promotions. What they found was what she called a “treasure-trove of customer success stories.” They took these stories and built them up to share via social media and other key digital channels. What happened next was that the interesting stories started resonating with their own customers on social media, generating “a lot of energy and engagement." 

This new storytelling platform has built measurable loyalty for Time Warner and they have seen a strong correlation between digital engagement and customer satisfaction based on this work. Think about how you can engage your customers to drive loyalty through stories and success stories. People love to learn from others and can be a win-win for both you and your customers.

3. Customer Centricity

Most companies say they are customer-centric — but they’re not. They think they are because they’re on Facebook or Twitter, but being customer-centric requires focus and buy-in at all levels. 

As your company grows, it gets harder to stay connected. The power of proof requires you to stay glued to your customer. Why did they buy? Why didn’t they buy? Why did they buy and not renew? What makes your customers tick and how do you stay connected to them? 

The answers to these questions help you create loyalty and also give you the firepower you need for new product development, new promotions and new proof. You can begin to harness the goodness of why they buy and then use that proof to entice others. Converting one customer has a cost. Squeeze every ounce of ROI out that you can by knowing them and turning that intel into proof.

4. Adversity

Getting people to pick up what you’re putting down is not easy. Not every product is Pokemon Go, racking up millions of users in seconds. When the going gets tough, it’s time to think differently about your marketing. 

Let’s say sales are in the crapper or maybe acquisition has peaked and flattened. What are your options? Sure, you can dial up the dollars on Facebook ads or in-app promotions and tweak your SEM and other paid tools. But why not tap into your current clients/customers and see why they bought? What makes your product so great in their eyes? Why would they recommend it to someone else? 

Gather your ammo, plan out some thoughtful campaigns and let the proof add new fuel to your sales pipeline. 

5. Profitability

At the end of the day, it’s all about that other “P”: Profitability. Proof drives customers to buy. Sales drives revenue. The profitability of your sales efforts comes from lean marketing efforts, or what I call earned media. 

Putting dollars behind campaigns is often a great way to grow sales. But I like to think scrappy. The cost of a customer success stories campaign is going to be far less than any paid advertising program and will yield faster, more tangible results if done in a real, authentic way. 

Smarter + faster + leaner = the holy grail of scale and profitability. Giddy up.


Michelle Heath is a marketing consultant with Growth Street Marketing and the former CMO/VP of Marketing at Currensee and Matchmine. Follow Michelle on Twitter: @michelleheath.