The New 4Cs of Small Business Marketing


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We need another model, one which is more sympathetic to the needs of the small business owner .. By Mike Farmer


Few theories have endured as well as Jerome McCarthy’s 4 Ps (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) which were first suggested in 1960. There have been many imitators since, e.g. the 7 Ps (McCarthy’s four plus People, Process and Physical evidence), the 4 Cs (Consumer, Cost, Convenience and Communication), and Ogilvy and Mather’s 4 Es (replacing McCarthy’s Ps with Experience, Exchange, Everyplace, and Evangelism, respectively. Fetherstonhaugh, 2009).

Each has its merits for the ‘text book’ brand with a finely tuned pricing strategy, manageable distribution channels and a promotional budget, but how useful are these models for the small business-to-business enterprise? How does the entrepreneur who is trying to build up a recruitment or web design business, or an architecture practice, apply these principles in any practical way? In my experience, not very easily. Usually the person or people behind a small business are the product, the price is determined by what their expertise can command and promotion often revolves around today’s favourite business pastime – networking. In other words, most of the marketing mix revolves around the individuals in the company: they are the brand.

So we need another model, one which is more sympathetic to the needs of the small business owner. This article outlines my new 4 Cs of marketing with the small business entrepreneur at its heart: a practical strategy for today’s changing business landscape.


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