Re-thinking and re-tooling the social marketing mix Ross Gordon
This article considers the role of the four Ps marketing mix model in social marketing, arguing that given reconfiguration of the marketing mix in the mainstream marketing discipline, and the characteristics of social marketing, a re-thought and re-tooled social marketing mix is required. Criticisms of the four Ps model are examined. It is argued that the four Ps marketing mix model is outdated for application to social marketing, and an alternative approach to the social marketing mix is proposed. It is posited that an expanded approach recognizing strategies such as relational thinking, and upstream social marketing activities would offer a more suitable approach. Using a more open minded social marketing mix less reliant on the four Ps model can help guide social marketing research and practice.
A systematic review of social marketing effectiveness demonstrated that many interventions that could be described as social marketing used other strategies such as training people or policy change (Stead et al., 2007). This suggests that despite the dominance of the four Ps marketing mix model, its explanatory power over the features of social marketing interventions is incomplete.
The four Ps re-thought
For many within the marketing discipline the four Ps represent the core tools of marketing that need to be combined carefully and utilised to produce the most viable mix. Yet the marketing literature has been replete with criticisms of the framework in recent years, for being too simplistic and naive for application to complex marketing problems such as service provision, business to business networking or social marketing.
One of the main weaknesses with the marketing mix model is that it encourages focus on the short term, sales and transactions, and under-values the importance of strategic, long term relational thinking and brand equity. Other criticisms of the four Ps marketing mix...