If you didn’t go through Marketing 101 in college and you’re new to the world of marketing, the concept of the 4Ps of Marketing are probably an unknown. The 4Ps are the foundation of marketing, which you probably use day in and day out, just by selling your product. -And yet, the 4Ps have evolved to include much more, becoming the 7Ps Marketing Mix. But what are these “Ps”, what do they have to do with your marketing strategy, and where’s the bottom line?
The 4Ps of Marketing: Product, Place, Promotion, Price
If you’ve ever thought about how your product fits into the grand scheme of things, chances are you’ve strategized using the 4Ps of Marketing. Although many examples are some sort of flower looking thing, meant to show how integrated it all is, I think of it more as a set of steps.
Step 1: Learn Your Target Market
Although “target market” is more of the center of the flower since everything revolves around it, it should actually be the first step.
This topic reminds me of an article we wrote several years ago, Repeat After Me: “Target. Market.” One of the headings is “You Can’t Sell a Horse to a Horse,” talking about how important it is to use the right language for your target language. So much goes into the language you use – whether it’s regional language, cultural language or even the difference between industry and laymen – that’s a topic in and of itself.
You should always know who you’re targeting before the marketing begins. Don’t leave this crucial step out or just lump everyone in together. We’re all different and, even if we’re interested in the same product, may be interested the same product for different reasons.
Step 2: Brand Your Product
Remember, we’re talking about marketing the product/service, not creating it. In short, we’re talking about using the product to build your brand. Consider the following:
- What is the actual product? Is it a service? A tangible product? Information?
- How will I package it? The packaging is as important as the product itself. Think of Amazon’s famous smile – on the side of every box that goes out, indicating that happiness can be found in ordering from Amazon. What impression do you want your packaging to give people?
- What is your warranty or guarantee? Do you somehow let buyers know that their purchase will be covered in the case of their lack of satisfaction? How do you satisfy their wariness of buying?
- What’s in it for them? What does the consumer expect the product, information, or service to deliver? What’s the value of the product/service? What pain point does it satisfy? What need does it answer?
- What are the features and benefits? Features and benefits are two different things. Make sure you know the difference and are addressing both in your marketing message.
- What is the product called? Is it a name that customers can easily identify with?
The answer to these questions will help you build your marketing strategy. They become incorporated into your marketing message – the language you use, the way you describe value, and how you help your target market perceive that value and your brand.
Step 3: Place – Where Will You Market?
Market placement may seem like a given when you’re talking about online. After all, “the Internet” is the place, right?
Marketing success is knowing your customers and being where they are. We often discuss social media platforms as an example, and for several reasons:
- There are several social media platforms and new ones rising every year
- Many get on a platform simply because “everyone else” is doing it
- Businesses fail every year because they use the wrong social media platforms, or use them incorrectly
- Businesses sometimes use social media marketing to the exclusion of everything else
-But social media marketing isn’t a crap shoot. There are ways to increase your success rate for SMM campaigns; one of those is by being where your audience is and only where your audience. If your target market isn’t on Facebook, for example, why would you spend time on Facebook?
A perfect example of this is Google Plus. When G+ started, “everyone who was anyone” hopped on the bandwagon. But you know who was on G+ the most? Techies and marketers. If your target market wasn’t techies and marketers, you likely wasted your time. Now G+ is closed down, it’s back to the social drawing board for Google, and business owners and marketers have to find their real audience.
Incorporating the “Place” part of the 4 Ps of Marketing into your marketing strategy means learning where your target audience is and being there. If they aren’t on social media, don’t waste your time there. That doesn’t mean don’t have an account; anymore, if you don’t have a LinkedIn or Facebook, you aren’t a company. But don’t waste your marketing dollars.
Step 4: Promotion – How Will You Market?
Promoting your product goes beyond branding your product (step 2). “Promotion” answers the question of how you’ll stay in your customers’ minds. It’s a constant process and there’s no letting up. There are several methods when you’re talking about online sales, including:
- Advertising: Paid, sponsored, or offered through direct mail, on the Internet, television, radio, blogs, banner ads, or billboards.
- Promotions: Used intermittently to boost sales. You’ll find these in the form of contests, premium promotions, trade shows, coupons, and free samples etc. A sales promotion is great for allowing companies to work out the kinks in their marketing mix.
- Content Marketing: Used to increase brand/product awareness and authority. This can be site content, white papers, blog posts, infographics, how-to guides and so on.
However, just because I mentioned the three above doesn’t mean that’s the end all, be all of promotion.
For example, we create full marketing campaigns as part of our services, which reach out across the range of online promotion: Link building, PPC (Paid advertising), citation building, social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing and so on. In other words, there are several avenues; you need to research those avenues to reach your full potential.
Step: 5 – Naming Your Price
It’s hard to say one step is more crucial than another, since all 5 steps are important. However, you could do all the above exactly right and still fail if your price point isn’t right. Pricing your product is a delicate thing. Too high and no one will buy it; too low and people won’t buy it. Too high and it’s too expensive; too low and its too cheap.
As always, the price that businesses charge for an offering is usually in line with what people are willing to pay. Price is a derivative of the cost of manufacturing, material costs, a product’s perceived value, what the competition charges for a similar product, and market conditions at any given moment. The price can be fixed or viable, and it can be used to position a product with respect to its perceived value.
The 7Ps Marketing Mix – A Marketing Strategy Upgrade
Marketing can fail no matter how many gurus are assigned to the task. Consumers have seen thousands of foolish products or services disappear as quickly as they arrived. This, as much as a realization that marketing doesn’t stop at “price,” led to creation of the 7Ps Marketing Mix, an upgrade to the 4Ps of Marketing.
Although these steps have always been there in one way or another, incorporating them into your marketing strategy will go far in helping it succeed.
Step 6: Staffing the Right People
Businesses, brands, are made up of people. In fact, people are a business’ biggest commodity. Your people interact with your customers and help to create the impression your customers have of your brand. Introverts and extroverts, go-getters and natural go-fers: people play a crucial part in how your product and brand are perceived. The right people help your business build good will with your company.
Step 7: Watching Your Processes
It wasn’t too long ago that Nestle got pegged for their products being created in sweatshops. They may, or may not, have been aware of it at the time, but you can bet they know what’s going on in their factories now.
Take the time to source your production process in a way that matches your brand. For instance, if you sell “made in the U.S.” products, you want to make sure your production process doesn’t cross the border somewhere. If you sell organic meats, you need to make sure where you source the food from follows those correct standards for growth and humane slaughter.
Not only can the cleanup of a marketing scandal cost and arm and a leg, but it can also cost you in other ways. Correctly source your products so you don’t have to deal with the embarrassment.
Step 8: Sharing Your Physical Evidence
Whether product or service, everything contains some time of physical element. This is true even when the customer is paying for something intangible, such as music downloads. What is your evidence that your product/service is quality?
This could be ratings or reviews, such as on Google Business. Our clients rate our services and place a review, giving others tangible evidence that we’re worth hiring. For products, having a review section on the site, or perhaps on the product page can provide tangible evidence.
Another word for this could be “social proofing,” in which you share other peoples’ experiences of your product, service, information or brand. It very seldom works as well if it’s your proof that you’re sharing, which is why Physical Evidence needs to be incorporated as part of the marketing strategy. You need to know going in how you’re going to get your customers to talk about how good you are at what you do.
The 4Ps of Marketing and its follow-up, the 7Ps Marketing Mix, is a helpful guideline when developing marketing strategies and campaigns. They help you address each touchpoint of a campaign, all based around who and what your target market is.
There are several ways that you can think of the process; in this blog post, I’ve treated them as steps. With the exception of learning your target market, any of these can be done in any order. Knowing who your target market is for sure, rather than guessing, is the first major step in a sound marketing campaign, and you need sound data to get it right.
When you’re ready to start building your marketing campaigns, after the market research is done, walk down the process of the 7Ps Marketing Mix, which are: Product, Place, Promotion, Price, People, Processes, Physical Evidence. It’s the template to creating marketing strategies that succeed.