The 4Ps - What They Mean in Today's Logistics Marketplace

By Jason Ickert of Energy Transportation Group where he is involved in integrating logistics solutions across the organization and their commercial partners. Ickert is also Co-Chair of the TMSA Membership Committee and serves on the TMSA Board of Directors.

My wife graduated with a marketing degree more than a decade ago, and has since focused her career in retail, human resources and recruiting. Always trying to keep her on her toes, I thought I would give her a little test the other day to see how much she could remember from the good ole days. I asked if she could name the 4Ps of marketing. I know…I get a "B" for BORING when it comes to romantic conversation. Without hesitation, she rattled off: Product, Placement, Price, and Promotion. I didn't know her in college, but I was absolutely amazed she could remember all of them. At the same time, I realized…somewhere in her mind…was the memory of all those "mis-spokes" I've made over the last 20+ years.

While the 4Ps may be considered appropriate for most traditional organizations; especially those that are sell an actual tangible product or widget of some type, or maybe even a non-customizable service, I have been engaged in selling and marketing logistics services for more than two decades. In my experience, I have realized that it’s become less suitable to apply the 4Ps to a logistics organization that is marketing highly complex and customizable services (transportation, logistics, warehousing and supply chain consulting).

The role of commercial teams (including marketing) in a logistics focused organization continues to evolve. In the past we may have focused on positioning our organization to be recognized by an attribute that differentiated us. Perhaps this was low cost, service performance, geographic reach, or depth of services.  

While these differentiators are still part of the buying equation, and properly articulated differentiators have proven to yield better conversions (both in number and profitability), the primary focus of our value proposition has shifted to providing an unparalleled customer experience; one that is considered, by our ideal customer, to be the premier buying experiences they've engaged in…anywhere, at any time. The bar has been set high by companies like Amazon, FedEx, and yes…Chick-fil-A.

Along with a focus shift of what really creates differentiatiation in logistics providers, it’s time to re-think our B2B marketing responsibilities and begin so see our role through a lens which instead illustrates the 4P's as "Pillars"… each remaining hyper-focused on the audience it serves, rather than on a product or service. And the customer…and their experience…our primary energies need to be focused on them.

  • 1st Pillar - The Customer
    First for a reason, a customer is considered anyone taking a buyer's journey; including suspects, prospects, leads, customers and advocates.

  • 2nd Pillar - Our Trading Partners
    In logistics, these include our carriers, warehousemen, finance and factoring companies, insurance, legal and technology partners. 
  • 3rd Pillar - Our Internal Teams
    These include current employees and future recruits; any role you might have in your company, and especially the hard to hire labor roles like truck or forklift drivers.
  • 4th Pillar - The Market
    These are our peers, competitors, investors, and other market leaders in our industry.

Our ability to create the best experience in each one of these pillars will allow our organization to scale and reach new potentials. 

Customer First. It’s no secret right, of course the primary focus of B2B marketing is on the customer…or you would think. How many times have you looked at the work of individual marketing professionals, or worse…marketing teams, that aren't focused primarily on the customer or their experience at all. 

In fact, and I believe it’s a marketing maturity issue, organizations seem to be focused instead their Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn "likes". And of course, if you look at their likes, its generally their own company peers, or perhaps even suppliers that are looking to curry favor…but rarely their customers. Why? I think it’s the easier road, the one most traveled. Who doesn’t like "420 Day" or "National Ice Cream Day"? 

Each of the 4Ps need to be attended to, but let’s not forget that the customer is primary, and delivering an unparalleled customer experience results in increased revenue, a higher level of customer satisfaction and the lesser-known, mostly free, gift…referrals.

About the Author
Jason Ickert has more than 20 years’ experience in the global logistics industry. After starting spending more than a decade in various commercial roles with the world’s largest 3PL, and another 11 years in a leadership position with a well-known mid-size freight broker, he just recently transitioned into a role with Energy Transportation Group where he is involved in integrating logistics solutions across the organization and their commercial partners. 

Jason’s full profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jasonickert or be reached by e-mail at [email protected]

 
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