Richard Ettenson, Eduardo Conrado, Jonathan Knowles
In the areas of sales and marketing, more and more people are migrating to the SAVE model from the Four P model.
It’s time to retool the 4 P’s of marketing for today’s
business-to-business (B2B) reality. As a framework for fine-tuning the
marketing mix, the P’s — product, place, price and promotion — have
served consumer marketers well for half a century. But in the B2B world,
they yield narrow, product-focused strategies that are increasingly at
odds with the imperative to deliver solutions.
five-year study involving more than 500 managers and customers in
multiple countries and, across a wide range of B2B industries, we found
that the 4 P’s model undercuts B2B marketers in three important ways:
leads their marketing and sales teams to stress product technology and
quality even though these are no longer differentiators but are simply
the cost of entry.
It underemphasises the need to build a robust case for the superior value of their solutions.
And it distracts them from leveraging their advantage as a trusted source of diagnostics, advice and problem-solving.
Shifting to SAVE
not that the 4 P’s are irrelevant, just that they need to be
reinterpreted to serve B2B marketers. As the accompanying chart shows,
our model shifts the emphasis from products to solutions, place to
access, price to value and promotion to education — SAVE, for short.
Solutions, a pioneer of the new framework, used SAVE to guide the
restructuring of its marketing organisation and its go-to-market
strategies in the government and enterprise sectors. Along the way the
firm identified three requirements for successfully making the shift
from 4 P’s thinking to SAVE.
First, management must
encourage a solutions mindset throughout the organisation. Many B2B
companies, particularly those with engineering or a technology focus,
find it difficult to move beyond thinking in terms of “technologically
superior” products and services and take a customer-centric perspective
Second, management needs to ensure that the
design of the marketing organisation reflects and reinforces the
customer-centric focus. At Motorola Solutions, this led to the dramatic
re-organisation of the marketing function into complementary
specialties, allowing focus on each element of the SAVE framework and
alignment with the customer’s purchase journey.
third, management must create collaboration between the marketing and
sales organisations and with the development and delivery teams.
Motorola Solutions required that specialist teams concentrate on
solutions and coordinate their approaches to specific customer needs.
This ensured that functional boundaries did not determine the firm’s
The B2B marketers who continue to embrace
the 4 P’s model and mindset, risk getting locked into a repetitive and
increasingly unproductive technological arms race. The SAVE framework is
the centerpiece of a new solution-selling strategy — and B2B firms
ignore it at their peril.
Step by step
Instead of PRODUCT, focus on SOLUTION:
by the needs they meet, not by their features, functions or
Instead of PLACE, focus on
Develop an integrated cross-channel presence that considers
customers’ entire purchase journey instead of emphasising individual
purchase locations and channels.
Instead of PRICE,
focus on VALUE:
Articulate the benefits relative to price, rather than
stressing how price relates to production costs, profit margins or
Instead of PROMOTION, focus on
Provide information relevant to customers’ specific needs at
each point in the purchase cycle, rather than relying on advertising,
public relations and personal selling that covers the waterfront.
(Richard Ettenson is a
professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Eduardo Conrado is
a senior vice president and the chief marketing officer at Motorola
Solutions. Jonathan Knowles is the CEO of Type 2 Consulting.
© 2013 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp.)