Editor’s Note: This article was originally written several years ago and updated to be more current with today’s marketing styles. Not much has changed in why people buy, only the ways in which we buy – which goes to prove that certain marketing techniques never die.
Table of Contents
- The Foundation Of Marketing
The 4Ps Marketing Mix: Product, Place, Promotion, Price
- Step 1: Learn Your Target Market
- Step 2: Brand Your Product
- Step 3: Place – Where Will You Market?
- Integrating Social Media Strategies into the 4 Ps Marketing Mix – Social Selling
- The Customer Service Faucet Is Always On
- How to Research and Locate Your Audience
- Step 4: Promotion – How Will You Market Your Product?
- Inspiring People to Buy
- What Advertising Offers
- Step: 5 – Naming Your Price
- The 7Ps Marketing Mix – A Marketing Strategy Upgrade
- Final Thoughts
The Foundation Of Marketing
If you’re new to the world of marketing, the concept of the 4Ps Marketing Mix is most likely an unknown. Yet, they are the foundation of marketing. In fact, you use them day in and day out, by selling your product. The marketing mix creates the framework for marketing management decision making. It’s a tool to help determine and promote a product, information or service.
-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 Marketing Mix: Product, Place, Promotion, Price
If you’ve ever thought about how your product fits into the grand scheme of things, you’ve used the 4Ps Marketing Mix. Although many examples work to show how integrated it all is, I see 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.
Uncovering your target market should always 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.” It’s talking about how important it is to use the right language for your target language. So much goes into the language you use that it’s a topic in and of itself. For instance, language could mean a regional language, cultural language or even the difference between industry and laymen.
You should always know who you’re targeting before the marketing begins. Don’t leave this crucial step out or lump everyone in together. We’re all different; even if we’re interested in the same product it could be 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. Of course, the product is the most important element of the marketing mix. Without a product, place, promotion, and price can never exist.
Consider the following:
- What is the actual product? Is it a service? A tangible product? Information? A product can be anything that satisfies a customer’s desire. The product is a service, information, or physical product that fits the needs of a consumer. It is what they both want and expect to receive.
- What is the best branding? How will you differentiate your product from those marketed by competitors?
- How will I package it? The packaging is as important as the product itself. Think of Amazon’s famous smile. It’s on the side of every box that goes out, indicating that you can find happiness when you order 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 what they buy is covered in the case of their lack of satisfaction? How do you lower 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 meet? What need does it answer?
- How will the customer use the product? Is it user friendly? What is the purpose of the product?
- 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. Are there product features that consumers won’t need or actually use?
- What is the product called? Is it a name that customers can identify with?
The answer to these questions will help you build your marketing strategy. They become incorporated into your marketing message. They’re part of the language you use. They help you describe value, while helping your target market see that value and your brand.
You should always communicate the product’s features and benefits to users. This is where the power of branding can be most helpful. Branding helps enable customer loyalty, setting a company’s products apart from its competitors.
Products That Deliver Value
Delivering products is about understanding the personality and needs of the user. There may be many user-types to consider. The biggest challenge is creating value for the user. Elements that separate a product from the competition go a long way in creating customer value.
The product has certain characteristics that influence other elements of the marketing mix. With more research, such as creating buyer personas, you can decide if you should include add-on features. You can improve packaging to be more attractive and appealing to consumers.
Another way of delivering value is to offer unique selling propositions. A unique selling proposition is what your business stands for. It’s a major element that can set your product apart from those offered by other companies. When you see your products doing well, you’ve made your market position clear and done an exceptional job of branding.
There are few products on the market that have no clear competition. In fact, there are many products with almost identical features. By defining your unique selling proposition, you take your product to the next level.
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? Strategies created with the 4Ps Marketing Mix center on the best ways of getting the product to the end user. Placement concerns itself with getting a product to a consumer at the right place and right time. It involves effective distribution as well.
Good and Bad Product Placement
There is both good and bad product placement. Good product placement helps consumers to feel comfortable viewing and experiencing the product. Bad placement has the opposite effect.
Product placement also takes into consideration the ability to recall brand awareness. Awareness relates to the strength of a brand in a person’s memory. This is how customers choose a brand and show loyalty:
- Brand Recognition – This happens when a customer is able to identify a brand under a variety of circumstances. Your brand is only as strong as your customer’s ability to remember it. It’s in direct proportion to identifying your service or product by its logo, packaging, advertising campaign, or tag line.
- Brand Recall – Recall refers to the extent to which a person can recall a service, brand, or product. The best recall is that which fosters “unaided recall.” Marketers often test the strength of brand recall through consumer interviews and surveys. It’s distinct from brand recognition in that consumers can recall members of the brand.
Digital marketing has had a profound effect on how companies market their products. Now you need to tailor offline strategies and online strategies that will reach your customers at the right time and place. What are the ideal locations? Once reached, what are the best ways to convert potential clients into actual clients?
Integrating Social Media Strategies into the 4 Ps Marketing Mix – Social Selling
As a company, it’s impossible to get around the fact that you’re going to need a robust online presence. Marketing success is knowing your customers and being where they are. As a business owner, this is your biggest challenge.
You meet it with an effective social strategy. Thousands spend quality time building relationships and exploring interests on social media.
We often discuss social media platforms, however, and for several reasons:
- There are several social media platforms and new ones rising every year
- Many get on a platform because “everyone else” is doing it
- Businesses fail every year because they use the wrong social media platforms, or don’t use them correctly
- 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 social campaigns. One of those is by being where your audience is and only where your audience is. If your target market isn’t on Facebook, for example, why would you spend time on Facebook?
Learn where your target market is and be there. If they aren’t on social media, don’t waste your time. 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.
The Customer Service Faucet Is Always On
Customers expect you to be there whenever, and wherever, they are. They expect their needs to be serviced at all times. Meeting this need is good customer service on your behalf. Customer service never sleeps because customers, as a whole, never sleep. Their desire to find products, information, and services knows no boundaries. When you know where your customers are, it removes much of the mystery of where to place your product or service, link or banner ad.
How to Research and Locate Your Audience
This requires research to identify potential customers and track their shopping habits. The clearer your vision, the easier it is to find them on their social media channels. At some point you’ll need to conduct customer surveys. Learn what online locations they prefer to visit and what sites they use. Find out what publications and blogs they read. Discover the people and companies they follow on and offline.
It’s not difficult to find studies and publications, even infographics, of where your customer base spends its time. The Pew Research Center provides an exceptional breakdown of where audiences spend their time. Information is also available on the top social media channels.
Step 4: Promotion – How Will You Market Your Product?
You can have the greatest product in the world, but if you can’t promote it to the people who need it most, it might as well not exist. 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.
Product promotion can include: advertising, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and more. In fact, there are several methods when you’re talking about sales, including:
- Sales Promotions: Used to boost sales. You’ll find these in the form of contests, free samples, trade shows, coupons and so on. 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.
Of course, that’s not the full extent of promotion. For example, we create full marketing campaigns as part of our services, which span the range of online promotion. Link building, PPC (Paid advertising), citation building, and search engine optimization are a few . In other words, there are several avenues. Research those avenues to reach your full potential.
Inspiring People to Buy
For people to buy a product, you need to explain your product’s benefits. People want to know its purpose, how they can use it effectively, and how it will benefit them. Promotion is the art of helping consumers to feel that you can meet their needs with your product.
Successful promotion efforts offer clear messages that target the right audience at the right time. The message meets buyers wherever they are when contemplating a buying decision. The advertising image that you project should be in sync with what the product can deliver.
Your mission is to attract the customer’s attention. From that point, the goal is to encourage them to buy or give feedback about the product. The promotional method you choose can enable a powerful or weak message. To convey an effective message, you may have to use several marketing channels. One thing to keep in mind is that your message should be consistent across those channels. This, also, is effective branding.
What Advertising Offers
Advertising methods include radio, television, print, electronic, word of mouth, and public relations.
- Radio can reach people in a relatively, inexpensive way. It works great for informing local customers about your products or services. Check with your radio station to determine the best time to run ads.
- Television may be a bit more expensive than radio, but you can never tell what types of bargains you may find for advertising slots. Television has an effective regional and national reach.
- Print works when you want to advertise through direct mail. It includes flyers, newspapers, written material, trade magazines, and more. It also includes information from fact sheets, contests, letters, and coupons that let people know when and where they can buy.
- Electronic advertising is here to stay. Your website fits into this category. There is a ton of information available (especially on this site, of course!) on how to optimize your website to capture new memberships and grow your business.
- Word of mouth, in today’s digital universe, goes a long way in helping enable consumers to communicate through social media venues. Some of the best advertisers for your business are satisfied customers, willing to share their experience. Those same customers, if unhappy, are twice as willing to pass on their negative opinions about your company.
- Then there’s generic advertising, which may or may not apply to your product or service. You’ll find generic advertising, as an example, prevalent where products like beef or milk are promoted.
- You can’t rule out the power of personal selling. Personal selling, or persona selling, can be a part of your marketing mix. It’s one way of tailoring your communications on the spot when speaking with present and potential customers. You may also have to hire professional salespeople to make the push for you.
Stay informed on how competitors are surviving in your industry. Attend trade shows, read everything you can get your hands on, whether the source is offline or online. Experiment, and learn from any mistakes. Promotion, as a major pillar of the 4Ps Marketing Mix, is an ongoing endeavor. You can never let up promoting your product or service.
Step: 5 – Naming Your Price
It’s hard to say one step is more crucial than another, since all 5 steps are important. Yet, 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 it’s too expensive; no one will buy it. Too low and it’s too cheap; people still won’t buy it.
Pricing also takes into account the following:
- Variable and fixed costs
- Company goals and objectives
- Groups targeted and their willingness to pay
- Positioning strategies
Pricing Elements of the Marketing Mix
When prices are set low and demand increases, marketers will raise prices to increase profits. Then, there are companies that will offer deep discounts in the hope of land grabbing a large number of consumers to make it all worth their while. Consider the following pricing elements of the marketing mix.
- Economy pricing keeps costs to a minimum. This type of pricing is typically found in supermarket products and budget travel industry tickets. Such pricing may work when business wanes and will usually lift when business picks up.
- Price skimming may occur when companies charge a higher price because it has a competitive position in the market. However, such advantages aren’t always sustainable. Higher prices tend to attract new players into the market that can afford the product. Once supply peaks, prices will fall. This is usually the case for any industry.
- Consumers tend to respond emotionally and psychologically at times. As such, consumers will use price as an indicator of value in both familiar and unfamiliar markets. Marketers tend to set prices on the low end, middle, and on the top end. Consumers also tend to determine quality by the price attached to a product.
- Prices are sometimes set along a line or range of offerings. Each offering presents more and charges a higher price. However, each level has to offer a product that is relevant to what consumers expect at that level. Pricing should be on par as well.
- Once customers rev up their buying patterns, some companies raise their prices to cash in the buying frenzy.
- Optional pricing is another tool that some marketers use by adding options to their packages. You’ll find this happens a lot in the travel and transportation industry.
- When consumers have access to products where there are few choices and it’s a critical product, marketers can charge a premium price. Another example is where consumers buy a product at a low price, but will need to buy additional product because they have no other choice.
- Promotional pricing can also include things like buy one get one free, or money vouchers and discounts. Sometimes, promotional pricing creates controversy due to laws that govern how long products can remain at promotional prices.
Determining the Right Price
Setting the right price can be a task fraught with peril. You can be so busy trying to raise overall company sales that you start the price at a level your target market can’t afford. On the other hand, you can price your product so low that your target market looks at it as cheap and beneath them. These two scenarios raise the possibility of having the price too high and then lowering it, or vice versa, which can leave customers feeling cheated.
So how do you determine the right price?
If you guessed the answer to be market research and analysis, you guessed correctly. Do your due diligence. Find out what the market can bear, and how your target market reacts to various prices. Never rush pricing decisions, as revenue is always at stake. Spend the necessary time to make sure you know what your product is worth to your audience. After all, your product or service is only worth what people are willing to pay.
The 7Ps Marketing Mix – A Marketing Strategy Upgrade
Like anything, marketing has evolved into the social media era. There are plenty of opportunities that exist to grab greater market share in this new era for marketers who understand and utilize the extended essentials of the marketing mix.
However, 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 Marketing Mix.
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. From website design and social media marketing to analytics and content development, online businesses need the right team to pursue success.
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
How customers receive your product helps to determine if they will remain loyal to your brand. Who are your suppliers, and what type of performance indicators are in place to help determine how well are your processes are performing? Do you have the right control loops in place? The control loop is the process management system that maintains the process at any desired set point.
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
This is the material part of a service. Whether product or service, everything contains some kind 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. It can also be the quality of one’s website along with the customer’s ability to navigate with ease. 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.
Is there another step?
Is there an 8th “p” in the Marketing Mix? Some say yes. Productivity and quality could be the 8th element of the marketing matrix. The 8th P asks if you’re offering customers a good deal. This takes into consideration if your services are consistent, and how well features translate into customer benefits. Company positioning can also fit into this space.
The 4Ps of Marketing that grew into, 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 article, I’ve treated them as steps. With the exception of learning your target market (which should always go first), 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.
If you’re not ahead of the digital marketing curve, you’re behind it. Become an expert at tracking your successes and failures. Save all email correspondence, feedback, and stats. Keep advancing your skills as an online business owner. This way, you’ll continually learn new ways to integrate digital marketing into your overall brand strategy.’
When you’re ready to start building your marketing campaigns, after the market research is done, walk down the process of the 4Ps Marketing Mix: Product, Place, Promotion, Price. Add in the “7Ps Marketing Mix” by extension: People, Processes, Physical Evidence. This is the template to creating marketing strategies that succeed.
Marketing isn’t all fun and games. Sometimes it takes know-how to get the job done right. The next time you need a little more experience than you have, contact Level343. We’ve been online since there was a line to be on. We’ll lead you to the next level of your marketing mix in business.