of Ps and Cs or Cs and Ps or Ps Cs …WHATEVER!!

Disclaimer no 1 I don’t intend to preach 4Ps or 4Cs in this article, there is a plethora of literature on that out there.

Disclaimer no 2 I do not have any idea why I am writing this article

I will start this article with a couple of personal experiences with marketing.

It was probably my first programmed/scheduled/official marketing class ever, a few months back, and I still remember my teacher, who had completed her PhD recently, came to the class and I was introduced to the expression “Guys!!! Marketing is not Bullshitting”, that idea struck me and remained with me for some time.

Second time the idea came back to me when one of our Profs arranged for an opportunity, to have summer internship for the alumni club of IIT Madras, we were supposed to build a brand out of something as mundane as an alumni association. I think it is something very AMERICAN to be associated with alumni associations after you graduate. Okay cut the story short, Profs who were deemed responsible for the alumni club, all of a sudden, out of thin air plucked a question “What is Marketing?”, the class went into a numb silence. At that point of time I actually sat upright and thought, ‘after spending so much time in the august company of Mr. Phil Kotler I was still unsure of what marketing means’. I would like to thank that Prof to bring up the issue because it instilled a desire to get back to square one and try finding the answer.

As we have first principle of solving any problem in engineering there is a first principle of marketing, ‘marketing is common sense’, but here is a problem, common sense is so uncommon that its presence in not felt and absence doesn’t harm anyone. This is also one major factor that leads people into believing that marketing is something anyone can do, the premise is not wrong on the ground level, yes anyone can do marketing but ANYONE cannot do marketing.

After digressing for more about half a page with font size 12 and single line spacing, I think I should get back to the topic. The Ps and Cs of marketing, but you might ask “Why Ps and Cs, when we were supposed talk about, what is marketing”. I would like to talk about Ps and Cs because the Ps of marketing is a very powerful and the most basic tool, powerful because it is a culmination of common sense and basic because it is the ab-initio state in terms of marketing a product/service. Generally marketing used to be divided into sub factors such as industrial, agricultural, consumer etc. Everyone was OKAY with this common understanding but one man actually added sense to this commonality, he said everything is same, only the nature of product changes, Professor E. Jerome McCarthy of the Michigan state university reduced the marketing mix concept to 4 parameters Product, Price, Place And Promotion. What he got in return, Nobel Prize!!! Naaaah… Marketing professionals are not supposed to get that (why? That I will try to answer in some later post of mine) he actually made millions from his text book, titled Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. So Prof McCarthy pounced on the opportunity and came out with a beautiful concept, 4Ps. now I will tell you what not to do, 4Ps came to the market in 1960, by 1986 or 1987 there were texts laden with as many as 11Ps of marketing, if someone wants to read about all those 11Ps kindly google Professor Jerry Wind, I tried to do that and google didn’t return any result, I mean any worthwhile result. So what do we learn from this example, Prof McCarthy applied some common sense and came up with 4Ps, because his textbook was earning millions and people found 4Ps to be too easy to use and they tried to package it differently and added complexity to it, not very sensible idea though. If I am not breaching the fine line, we can assume that other works that followed McCarthy’s, containing more Ps should be having more SENSE than McCarthy’s, but they missed a very critical part the ‘COMMON’. 4Ps till date is the basic premise to analyse a market.

4Ps and many more Ps helped me make some sense out of marketing, if I need to sell a product I need to take care of 4 factors ~Product, Price, Place and Promotion~ that’s it, voila!! I am a marketing manager raring to hit the corporate world….. Hold on …. Calm down… things shattered again, when I recollected the words of another Professor of mine, he said marketing is a context based science. Ahan!! Okay??… so that means all this stuff that I understood about marketing has gone all in vain, Why? the Ps are based on the judgement of the MANAGER, it’s like saying select the Ps because the “Marketing Manager said so”. Another concept from the same Prof of mine (whom I idolise by now) he said there is something called experiential marketing. The two terms i.e. ‘context based science’ and ‘experiential marketing’ added up and made sense to me. I am not saying that the 4Cs will now be devised by me here right now, what I intend to say is 4Cs became clear to me. I am adding another disclaimer at this point. Actually the 4Cs are the experiential part of 4Ps which cropped because marketing is a context based science.

Disclaimer no. 3: the article doesn’t talk about 5Cs, sorry for breaking your heart, but it talks about another very basic idea called the 4Cs.

The 4Cs were devised by Bob Lauterborn and James L. Knight professors of advertising at the University of North Carolina. 4Ps miss out on the context part, the Ps are more of the form of brainchild of a marketing manager, the basic premise of marketing of involving the consumer or customer fails here. So what are the Cs? Cs are basically the Ps from the consumer’s side.

Cs Ps



After going all this I had two perspectives for marketing, the basic question generally baffles you the most. I’ll share a few basic question which spin your mind out, “Why MBA”, “Describe Yourself” after 4 gruelling years in engineering someone asks you “Sir, can you please define Engineering” same is with marketing, I read Mr. Kotler’s work inside out and use to walk proudly as if some kind of king of the ring. Anyways I am not elaborating the meaning of these Cs because I am not writing a text book on this issue. The onus is on the reader to make out something and comment on the post, where we can discuss more about this.

Finally it makes some sense and I have sensible solution to the question ‘what is marketing’, Do I?

– Saad Bin Hamid

MBA Batch of 2012

DoMS IIT Madras