The 4E’s

Today, I attended a seminar presented by an American business guru who discussed a new world of marketing. At the heart of this ‘new world’ was an article written by Brian Fetherstonhaugh titled, “The 4P’s are out, the 4E’s are in”.

I thought this article was pertinent to social media, comms and the effects these had on brand reputation. Why? Because businesses are transitioning from being vertically integrated to becoming interconnected. The consumer has seized control from businesses and this has created a new ecosystem made up of “millions and billions of unstructured one-to-one and peer-to-peer conversations”.

Although the “4E’s” framework was developed for marketing, these resonate with the use of social media and reputational management (Christopher & Gaudenzi 2009). They provide useful starting points for a brand to begin thinking about how social media will assist in leveraging their brand image, products/services and ultimately, their online reputation in a changing landscape of communication.

Let’s explore…

EXPERIENCE: Products and services have become experiences as consumers talk about them online. A presence on social media allows brands to connect with consumers and provide them with an experience to give them added value. It is a means of building on the brand’s online reputation. As brand image is closely linked to reputation, brands should go where their customers are – online – to cultivate a positive perception of the brand image. This will consolidate the brand’s reputation and increase its capability to attract, satisfy and retain consumers.

EVERYPLACE: Technology and social media have turned ‘place’ into ‘everyplace’. Consumers create their own paths for looking for information, getting entertainment and shopping. Brands need to adopt channels to access consumers and vice versa. Social media is a new channel for brands to interact with consumers, develop dialogic communication with them and in doing so, build and maintain brand reputation.

EXCHANGE: With so much on the web being offered for free, appreciating the value of things becomes important. Brands who know the value of their customers – what grabs their attention and what engages them  – will enable the brand to know what it takes for the consumer to give them their attention, engagement and permission. Exchange is also about knowledge exchange with consumers and potential consumers to facilitate improved performance by acting on feedback.

EVANGELISTS: With a multiplicity of message/communication channels, promotion simply isn’t enough. A powerful approach is through evangelism: creating a mission and brand experience so inspiring that consumers want to engage with the brand and share their enthusiasm with others. This may begin internally. Employees have a synergistic role in the overall positioning of a brand’s reputation. Motivated employees will share goals, knowledge and brand visions inside and outside the organisation and that flows on to social media too! Brands who build a powerful word of mouth/mouse through evangelists will inspire customers with passion.

What do you think? Are the 4E’s relevant to social media, comms and brand rep?


8 thoughts on “The 4E’s

  1. Very interesting article, especially in line with all our discussions on ‘new media’. Its true – the media landscape is, and has been changing. These four areas (experience, everyplace, exchange, evangelists) are pertinent to our understanding and continuation of brand management, marketing and relationship building in social media. Just like you mentioned Alicia – its about the ‘interconnectedness’ of all of these elements to create effective communication.

  2. How about Empathy for your clients and their feelings Evolution – need to be part of the constant evolution within social media

    X alex

    • Empathy is important too Alex – another great E! Brands and organisations need to have a listening ear when it comes to social media so that reciprocal and dialogic communication can be fostered, it helps to build trust in the brand if they are taking the needs and issues of their clients into consideration.

  3. Great article and no doubt a thought provoking seminar, Alicia. Yes the 4E’s most certainly are relevant to social media! The customer experience is so important especially given the peer-to-peer or customer-to-customer dialogue that is afforded by social media. By evolving from marketing’s traditional 4P’s to the 4E’s, brands have the opportunity to rethink the way they approach their customers and make the best use of powerful potential social media has for word-of-mouth. Social media really needs to be fully integrated into a brand’s overall strategy and in some cases, even drive it.

    • Too right (and great user-name)! I think some companies are still hesitant about utilising social media to reach their customers so I think there is still opportunity for them to be educated about how powerful a tool it is.

  4. I don’t have any problems with the E’s but I do have a problem with positioning social media as marketing. It is the perfect way to lose authenticity and credibility. There’s more to life and business than marketing., which may well be a dying profession even though its practitioners tend to position themselves as running the whole business without the responsibilities and accountabilities of a CEO! Let’s start to view life, including business, as interactions between people and ask how we want those interactions to be – do we really want to be “marketed”? One effect of social media, in my view, is forcing business to become more real and more a part of living, not an opportunity for some people to make money.
    Cheers, geoff

    • Thanks for the comment Geoff – to clarify, I transposed the 4E’s to a brand’s use of social media – not necessarily as a marketing tool. I don’t think interactions should necessarily turn into ‘marketing’ to customers, rather like you said, it is a tool for businesses to connect and becoming more ‘real’.


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