All Hail the Sixth "P"
Predictability is a huge, though often overlooked, aspect of marketing and selling in the custom world
By Robert Ain
I don't know who first started the five "Ps" in marketing, but I first applied it to business in the 1980s and it still holds true today.
If you're unfamiliar with them, the five "Ps" are Product, People, Place, Price and Promotion.
Some marketing books specify only four "Ps," excluding People. I've had conversations with some of those authors, contending that People are a key component and that four "Ps" aren't enough. So I'll probably be excluded from the annals of great marketers by taking the already disputed five "Ps" and adding a sixth.
The five "Ps" are thought to cover virtually every aspect of marketing and selling consumer Products. Some may be more important than others, but you need to consider all of them if you're marketing yourself as a custom retailer.
So what's the sixth "P"? It's Predictability, which might be the single most important "P" in creating sales, especially between a retailer and a consumer. Predictability, basically, is the ability to say something is going to happen, and then make it happen.
Predictability is important for all four layers of consumer product distribution and selling-—manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers. All of the these layers need Predictability in order to succeed.
For consumers, Predictability is partially synonymous with reliability. For example, when the user presses the button, the light will go on, the DVD player will start to play or the sound will come from the speakers. Your job as a custom retailer is to assure the customer that you can provide this Predictability.
But Predictability goes beyond just the products for consumers. They also want installers to arrive at their homes when promised. It also extends to the responsiveness of your customer service. When a customer contacts you, he or she should be able to expect a quick response, or an acknowledgement that he or she has contacted you. Not surprisingly, many retailers don't pass this Predictability test. I recently was speaking to the vice president of customer service for a high-end electronics company and was amazed—really shocked—that it had a three-day window for responding to e-mails. Is this Predictable? In a sense, it is, if by Predictable you mean "Predictably unresponsive," which is not the desired effect. Customers want the Predictability of knowing that you received their communications, so respond, even if you can't resolve their issues immediately.