What Ever Happened to that 5th P?

One of the first things you learn in Marketing 101 of bschool is the 4Ps. Product, Placement, Price and Promotion – all the beautiful pieces you need for a great marketing plan. There used to be 5 Ps, but many business schools stopped teaching it because it was so obvious and did not lead to further discussion. You do all of the 4Ps so you can sell more stuff to the 5th P – People.

I’d like to argue we bring that back – and that there are many pieces of this P that are important, and practically poignant.

People is not just about customers. It’s also about influencers – those folks that can influence a customer to actually purchase a product. If you are struggling for an example, go to the mall or department store anytime before Christmas and just go to the same floor as the toys – you will hear them a mile away…children. They cannot buy the products, but they darn well will make their case known.

But People are also your resources. Your tribe, your employees, your partners, your cheerleaders. They are the ones who can help you implement and deliver your product or your service or whatever it is you are selling. The more of them you have,the more you can deliver and the bigger you look. They can be the thing that makes you stronger or they can seriously weaken your delivery, if you are not all on the same page.

When I recently went to Tanzania and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, our touring company was owned by a guy who had been a porter, helping people climb the mountain, since he was 16. He eventually became a guide and then decided to start his own company. His brother was the lead guide on our climb and his youngest brother helps out as a regular guide during the summers he is off from school. They are all well aligned with what they had to do with the climbers and the climb.

But they also have to comply with regulations. The Tanzanian government recently put a limit on how much a porter can carry up the mountain – 30 lbs (~15 kg) per climber. So they take all the supplies for all of our climbers, weigh it and then determine how many porters to take.

For our climb, we ended up with more than they bargained for by about 30 kgs (it was probably my pack…crazy prepared hikers always carry too much!) So, they had to take on 2 extra porters from the set that was there at the station. No guarantees with those porters – they have not worked with them before. And no additional charges to the clients for the extra porters. But the rest of the team had worked together and so, the 2 new porters were not obvious to us at all. Seamless integration at its finest.

Who do you have on your team? On your extended team? How well do they understand what you are trying to deliver? And how can you incorporate others into your plans, especially on short notice? Don’t forget about the 5th P! (I’m positively pugnacious about this point.)

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