You can change the offer, alter the creative, or adjust the price, but the reality of the new world is that, to make these facets of the four P’s (product, price, place, promotion) work, you also need an effective marketing mix.

There was a time when we had the luxury of ongoing and simple experimentation with mix; that’s no longer available for us as technology marketers. Our audiences are increasingly orchestrating their own incredibly complex behaviors — ones that we don’t control. They’re using, on average, seven content sources (for example, direct email, search, online forums, white papers, direct sales conversations, and sponsored seminars) and contemplating five or more types of content types (ROI engines, customer examples, cloud integration, options/benefits, and industry examples) across the buying process. If you think that’s challenging enough for marketers, we are now seeing increased blending between formats (online to search, print to direct) in a more mature, mixed manner than ever before. Add to this the selective integration of different content needs in specific online destinations, and we see a marketing mix ecosystem that is neither linear nor homogeneous. It feels progressively like a DNA strand, twisted in a helix and connected at varying points and components.

To succeed in your other P’s, you need to know how to handle the key dynamics of the marketing mix before you can adjust the other levers, like marketing a price or product change. For example, if you adjust price but don’t get your marketing mix right (from targeting to content to messaging or integrated media), you will never know if price adjustments really worked. In truth, you cannot avoid the marketing mix dilemma if you want to deliver outcomes from the other big P’s.

Yet, time and time again, we see marketers simply adjusting their mix based on what they’ve done in the past. Unfortunately, this perpetuates poor decisions made in the past and leaves marketers blind to changes in how customers will be consuming marketing in the future.

There are some simple yet fundamental steps you should filter your mix decisions around.

First, start with the customer. Great mix is driven not by the narrow confines of pre-and-post changes but by looking at the whole rainbow of choices available and understanding what we need to do differently (new) and then what we need to do less or more of. Your customer’s and prospect’s consumption of marketing follows predictable patterns of behavior. While those patterns will vary by title (CXO, CIO, IT manager, LOB, etc.), geography, company size, and technology type patterns are visible. Begin by mapping the customers’ journey across awareness, consideration, and purchase. Once you’ve begun the customer-centric mapping process, you’ll be in a much stronger position to evolve how you adjust the marketing mix levers and not simply make small tactical shifts.

In subsequent blogs, I’ll be sharing more on how to make customer-centric marketing a reality. In the meantime, whom have you seen do this well?