More on the Eight ‘P’s of marketing – People, Physical Evidence, Process and Philosophy

Olof Williamson was a Senior Consultant at NCVO, looking at the latest thinking on funding, finance and public services. Olof has left NCVO and his posts have been retained for here for reference.

Last month I posted some tips on how to use the “Eight Ps” of marketing to help develop your products and services.  I set out the first four which were Product, Price, Place and Promotion.

Now I’m turning to the next four: People, Physical Evidence, Process and very importantly Philosophy.  Taken together the eight can give you a great framework to build your customer base and access new income.

5. People

Having the right people with the right skills is essential to enable you to connect with your customers.  For example your people will need a good knowledge of the product or service you offer and be able to describe it in terms appealing to the end user and to potential funders or purchasers.  This requires good communications skills and also a good understanding of the issues in your particular sector, and the empathy to understand others’ needs.  It may be that you also need particular skills such as languages, customer care, cultural sensitivity or technical skills.  If your people don’t already have these you could consider training or bringing in new staff, or you might work with a partner organisation that does have the skills.

As an example, Ariel Trust moved from a grant funded model to an enterprise model, with their young media trainees providing project to order for purchasers such as the fire service and police.  This meant that they had to move from fundraising skills to sales skills to bring in the work.  Some of their staff retrained but others did not feel the new approach was right and moved on, demonstrating the cultural barriers.

Sometimes short-term funding pressures mean that we under-invest in skills in our sector, so remember there are lots of organisations out there that can help you.

6. Physical evidence

This is about how you give messages to your customer about your product or service, other than through words.  For example your branding and logos, the packaging of your products or the premises where a services is provided.  Is it posh and shiny, conveying high quality?  Or is it bright and breezy, conveying energy and friendliness?

Good design and printing is now more widespread than in the past, which can present a dilemma for promoting community-based events.  One local volunteer led charity was disappointed when people misunderstood their professional-looking flyers, assuming they were part of a big national charity and asking “where’s your head office?”

Many voluntary groups have access to premises that they could hire out at commercial rates, but need to consider the expectations of different customer groups.  The rooms for hire need to reflect these expectations and be presented accordingly.

7. Process

Getting processes right can be a great way to attract and retain customers.  For example people may expect to be able to order and pay for a service online, or they might want to pre-pay or pay in arrears.  It might also be that they expect all your staff and volunteers to know about their interaction with them – do you need to invest in a database of your customers?

Do you make it easy for people to pay for your services, or donate to your cause? Recent research has found that it can take people 7 percent more time on average to donate money to charities online than to buy an item from a commercial company online. How can you make sure people find it easy to buy what you’re offering?

8. Philosophy

This is arguably the most important element in your marketing as it conveys your vision, ethos and values.  It may be essential to convey this to your customers, funders or purchasers, and there should be continuity between how you approach each of them.  How you communicate this is important, and it relates to each of the elements above like your people, place and promotion.  Your values should also be in line with your customers’ beliefs.

A great example from the commercial sector is Innocent – a company that has been extremely effective at embedding notions of simplicity and “wholesomeness” across its advertising campaigns, packaging, copy and sponsorship deals (i.e, things like the Innocent Village Fete). Are you paying enough attention to whether the underlying values of your organisation are represented in the way your products and services are promoted?

Remember that the voluntary sector does not have a monopoly on philosophy – think of how businesses have incorporated green messages into their logos, slogans, advertising and products.  If you feel yours are more authentic you will need to convince potential customers of this fact.

Finding out more

The Eight Ps are all listed in our how to guide to social enterprise The Good Guide to Trading.  They also form a key part of our new publication The Art of Raising Money, authored by Ian Bruce of the Cass Business School.

Remember that we also have a Marketing and Fundraising Group on the NCVO website, which you can join for free (once you’re registered on the site) for some peer support.

Olof Williamson’s blog

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