What Are the Four Cs of Marketing?
For many years, aspiring marketers were drilled on the four Ps of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. This marketing model was originally introduced in 1960 and expanded on later to become the 7 Ps of the marketing mix; it was considered one of the best for assessing the competitive landscape and identifying marketing issues. However, in recent years, marketing gurus have replaced this old mantra with a new one, the four Cs of marketing:
Nowadays, a lot of marketers argue that these four Cs are much more valuable than the four Ps. In fact, they recommend replacing the four Ps with the four Cs. This is because the latter takes a more customer-centric approach to marketing.
You’re here because you want to learn more about the four Cs of marketing. More importantly, you want to find out whether you should use this model to build out your own marketing strategy. The good news is you’re in the right place! To help you out, we’re going to take an in-depth look at the four Cs and answer the question that’s probably on your mind right now: “What exactly do they mean?”
But first, a brief history lesson…
Some Background on the Four Cs of Marketing
Although the four Cs of marketing have grown in popularity, many people (including a lot of marketers) don’t know where they came from. That’s why we wanted to provide some background information. Understanding why this model was introduced can help shed light on why it has become the preference among a lot of marketers.
So, how did the four Cs come to be?
It all started back in 1990, when Bob Lauterborn wrote an article in Advertising Age titled “New marketing litany; Four P's passe; C-words take over.” In this article, Lauterborn stated it was time to retire McCarthy’s famous four Ps, as the marketing world had changed dramatically. People had become less predictable and less willing to buy whatever companies could make. He suggested a new formula, Lauterborn’s Four Cs, to serve as a replacement.
Lauterborn’s suggestions for moving away from the four Ps model included the following:
- Focus on consumer wants and needs vs. product.
- Consider cost to satisfy vs. price.
- Look at convenience to buy vs. place.
- Think about communication vs. promotion.
And there you have it! That’s how we got the four Cs of marketing.
An In-Depth Look at the Four Cs of Marketing
As mentioned previously, the four Cs of marketing consist of the following: Customer, Cost, Convenience, and Communication. But what exactly do they mean? Why do they matter? And how can you apply them to your own marketing efforts?
Let’s dive in…
The first “C” in the four Cs of marketing stands for “customer,” or more specifically, the wants and needs of the consumer/customer. Rather than focusing on the product you are selling, this “C” reminds you to focus on solving a problem or filling a void experienced by your ideal customer. This is important, as people today aren’t looking to buy products or services. They’re looking for solutions to their problems.
Businesses must understand the customers to whom they are marketing—it’s an essential part of developing a solid marketing strategy. The more you understand your customer, the better you will be able to make products that are useful and beneficial to them. And additionally, the better you will understand how to reach out to them in your marketing endeavors.
So, take the time to create a customer avatar for each of your ideal customers. This will inform what language you use, which platforms you advertise on, what kind of content you create, and so on.
The second “C” in the four Cs of marketing represents “cost.” However, the cost of your product does not refer to its price. The price is only a tiny part of the overall cost that goes into buying a product—from your customers’ perspectives. You must be able to determine the overall cost of your product and deliver this information to your customers.
- How much time will it take for your customer to access your product?
- How much benefit does it actually provide?
- How much time will it take to use or set up the product?
All these things factor into your determined cost. And they should all be explained to your customers in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand way.
The third “C” of the four Cs stands for “convenience.” What this refers to specifically is convenience for your customers. How easy is it for them to get the solution you’re offering?
After you have closely studied the habits of your customers, you will know whether they prefer to shop in stores or online, as well as the extent to which they will go to purchase your product. The convenience of your product is determined in part by its overall cost. If you can make your product more cost-effective and easy enough to get without your customers having to go to great lengths to get a hold of it, then you will set yourself up for success.
Look for every opportunity to reduce friction. Consider how your customers like to buy and be sure to provide them with their preference. Further, outline exactly what customers need to do to make a purchase as simple as possible. Don’t confuse them or introduce 20 steps they need to take!
The fourth and final “C” of the four Cs of marketing covers “communication.” Communication is crucial to the success of your business marketing. You must understand how to interact with your customers. Otherwise, you’ll wind up saying the wrong thing or attempting to reach them in the wrong place—or both.
One of the best communication tools that exists for businesses today is social media. This doesn’t just mean constantly promoting your business and products on your social media networks. Instead, you should focus on developing relationships and engaging in conversations with the people who follow you. The easier it is for your customers to communicate with you, the more likely it is they will keep coming back.
If you’ve done your research, then you’ll know where your customers spend their time online. Make sure to prioritize the social platforms they use most frequently. And be sure to share valuable content that resonates with your ideal customer.
To recap, the four Cs of marketing refer to the following:
- Customer – The wants and needs of your ideal customer
- Cost – The overall cost of acquiring your product
- Convenience – The level of convenience for a customer to buy
- Communication – The way you interact with your customers
The reason this marketing model has become so popular is that it takes the focus off the business and puts it where it belongs—the customer. So, if you’re developing a digital marketing strategy for your business, keep these four Cs in mind. Doing so will put you in a better position to reach, connect with, and ultimately convert your ideal customer.