Part 2 of Marketing is More Than Just Advertising – The ‘5 C’s’

The 5 Cs with titlePreviously I wrote that Marketing is More Than Just Advertising and shared 3 key frameworks. Here I expand on the first framework, known as the ‘5 Cs’. The 5 Cs refer to Context, Company, Customer, Competitor, and Collaborator.

The 5 areas to investigate as part of developing a marketing strategy.

Context. A company’s actions do not occur in a vacuum. The political, economic, social, and technological trends, often referred to as the PEST trends, as well as changes that happen around us, affect how people, both customers and others, perceive our products and services. These issues must be kept in mind as we decide on our course of action.

Company. When developing a marketing strategy, we must understand our own company’s strengths and weaknesses. Are we well-known in the industry? Are we a market leader or a market follower? What are our strengths and weaknesses as a company? We also need to be mindful of where new opportunities might exist and where threats exist from competitors and others that might affect  a product’s success.

Customer. As we develop our marketing strategy, we want to understand who our customers are. Not just who they are today, but who they might be tomorrow and if there are any particular characteristics that define them. As we develop new products and services, we want to be mindful of our current customers as we don’t want to lose their business either. Part of developing an understanding of our customers is to go deep into exploring and researching what the desired benefits and qualities might be preferred by the customer, both current and future ones.

Competitor. We clearly can’t develop a marketing strategy without considering the competition. We need to understand who are competitors are, both the obvious ones as well as the not-so-obvious ones. Our competitors are going to respond to our marketing tactics depending on how threatened they might feel by our actions. When considering competitors, we must also go beyond the obvious. An executive at Coke once told me that her biggest competitor was tap water, not other sodas. Once the competitors have been defined, the next step is to develop an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

Collaborator.  In the same way that companies don’t lives in a vacuum, neither do products. For a product to reach your customer requires a variety of suppliers, distribution systems, and many others that are your collaborators network. For a product this can include the people who use the product itself or complimentary products that improve the benefits of a given product. Any marketing strategy should take these other companies into account in order to maximize the positive impact of the collective system.

The successful marketing strategy includes exploring these 5 items and incorporating relevant insights as part of the strategy rollout plan. Without keeping in mind all five of the context, company, customer, competitors, and collaborators, a marketing plan has the danger of being blind-sided by unexpected events or reactions from anyone of these areas.

As marketers, we must never forget that we do not operate in a vacuum.


Please share your thoughts with me on this topic, I love to hear from my readers.

You can connect with me on  LinkedInGoogle+,  Twitter  (@SaraPaisner),  via email, or on Facebook.

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