The marketing mix and 4 Ps of marketing
You need a solid marketing strategy before launching a new product or service, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Even if you’ve had success before, the marketing landscape is constantly changing, so what worked yesterday may not work today.
The marketing mix, also known as the 4 Ps of marketing, can guide you in the right direction. These foundational strategies can help you create and implement a marketing plan for any product or service. Then you can get busy finding the right tools to implement your strategy.
To give you a quick rundown on the marketing mix and 4 Ps of marketing, this post will cover:
- What the marketing mix is
- The 4 Ps of the marketing mix
- Additional marketing mix concepts
- How to use the marketing mix for your strategies
What is the marketing mix?
A marketing mix is a diverse set of tools, strategies, and methodologies used to reach an audience for the purpose of selling products or services. It begins with the 4Ps of marketing — product, price, placement, and promotion — and focuses on different marketing messages, advertising platforms, and promotional campaigns to target specific customers.
Rather than just moving in a single direction, the marketing mix covers a wide range of options. It helps map out a clear plan for the entire lifecycle of a product so you can make more strategic decisions along the way. When you diversify your efforts, you also reach a broader audience.
Businesses use the marketing mix to define what the product is about and who it is for, price it accordingly, develop the brand message for a specific audience, and determine where to sell and promote the product.
The 4 Ps of marketing were first introduced in the 1950s by Professor Neil Bordon at Harvard Business School in his article "The Concept of the Marketing Mix." He got the idea from a marketing bulletin written by a peer, Professor James Culliton, in 1948. In his piece, Professor Culliton compared a marketing executive to a chef mixing ingredients and creating recipes for success that others could follow. Borden liked the idea so much he coined the phrase "marketing mix" and started using it in his lectures and in publications.
Although marketing has changed a lot since the 1950s, the 4 Ps of marketing remain a staple used by marketing professionals for planning and developing a marketing strategy.
The 4 Ps of the marketing mix
The 4 Ps of marketing are product, price, place, and promotion. Different marketers may focus more on one or two of the Ps, depending on the product or service and the situation. You can take different approaches for your marketing mix.
Marketing teams use the 4 Ps as a framework to help view their product through the eyes of the customer. Once you understand who your customers are and what they are willing to pay, you can price your product competitively and sell it where your customers want to buy it. The marketing mix helps you delve more deeply into the specifics.
First, clearly define your product — explain what it does, how it works, who it is for, and what its benefits are. Keep in mind how your competition frames similar products. You want to stand out from the crowd.
Price is an integral part of the equation. Determine how much it will cost, explain why you priced it that way, and understand which audiences can afford it. For example, you may want to set yourself apart by pricing your product well below the competition, or if you are marketing to a luxury audience, you may want to price it higher and sell it in high-end stores.
Place refers to the point of sale. Ask yourself why you are selling in your chosen location and how it benefits you or the customer. Some products and services are a natural fit for ecommerce while others work best in stores. Sometimes a mixed model works best. Often, customers will expect to find your products in a particular location.
Promotion refers to all the activities you use to inform customers of your product and inspire them to buy it. It includes advertising, content marketing, email campaigns, social media marketing, and more. Promotion refers to how and where you will advertise your products or services.
Callout block to “The 4 Ps of marketing” — an overview (with examples)
Additional marketing mix concepts
The idea of a marketing mix is not set in stone. It is an evolving concept that will continue to update as the market for goods and services changes over time. As a result, some marketing experts have already expanded the 4 Ps to include additional facets of business, while others have changed the focus entirely.
Although the classic 4 Ps of marketing is a helpful tool, there are other marketing mix concepts you might want to consider as well.
The 7 Ps
The 4 Ps marketing mix applies specifically to products. As more companies started selling services, additional Ps were added to increase the flexibility for marketing services. The three other cornerstones of the 7 Ps are:
- People and participants who represent your brand matter. Consider your employees' appearance, behavior, and training. Since customers respond to employees as extensions of your brand, recruitment, staff development, and training are all part of the marketing mix too.
- Processes — such as how orders are fulfilled, who buyers can contact with sales questions, and whether the product can be customized — are all part of the customer experience. Many professionals include consideration of processes as part of their marketing mixes.
- Physical evidence includes packaging, store layout, colors, fonts, and signage. These are all branded elements that are bigger than a specific product or service, but they all impact how a product is positioned.
The 8 Ps
Some marketing professionals add an eighth P to the list. Partners refers to business relationships and logistics, such as business associates delivering goods or services to customers. This approach covers everything about the product from start to finish.
The 9 Ps
The ninth P is passion, which factors in the seller's enthusiasm for the product. For example, if a wireless store employee loves the new cell phone they are selling, it makes it much easier for them to promote it. Their passion may inspire customers to buy.
The 4 Cs
If you sell digital goods or services, you can use the 4 Cs approach to marketing. The 4 Cs are a rebrand of the 4 Ps for a digital marketplace. The 4 Cs are:
- Customer. This considers the customer's wants and needs and how your product fulfills them. It’s about solving a specific pain point in the customer's life.
- Cost. This isn’t just the price of your product but also the related or intangible costs associated with buying it. For example, if your software requires custom coding to integrate it with existing systems, the resources that a client may have to spend connecting platforms is part of the cost as well.
- Convenience. This is about knowing all your audience’s preferences and making the product easy for them to buy. For example, some audiences prefer one-time purchasing while others like subscriptions.
- Communication. Unlike promotion, which is a one-way conversation, communication is how you engage with your customers long term to extend lifetime value and turn them into advocates. Listening to your customers as well as marketing to them builds brand trust and community.
Regardless of which marketing mix you choose for your next campaign, starting with a clear structure will help you create an effective marketing strategy for any product, service, or digital offering.
How to use the marketing mix to construct a marketing strategy
A marketing mix is essential for your short- and long-term plans. It provides the road map and helps guide your market research to target the right audience for your product or service. A good marketing mix also strengthens your brand identity and allows you the flexibility to respond quickly to buyer behavior.
Why you need to improve your marketing plan
Any marketing mix can be the foundation for your strategy. The more factors you consider, the stronger your marketing plan will be. It's essential to learn how to build a content marketing strategy using the right marketing mix for your company.
1. Learn what your customers need
The first step is to research what your audiences need. A couple effective ways to accomplish this include:
- Surveys. Post surveys on social media or recruit individuals to answer questions about their potential interest in a product or service. Be sure to gather demographic information to get a good idea of who needs your product. Ask specific questions about their interest and use of the product — the more detail, the better.
- Existing customer data. Organize data from previous sales and service interactions to create customer profiles. Depending on how much information you collect with each sale, you may have massive amounts of valuable data to pull from.
2. Apply insights to the marketing mix
After gathering your data, analyze responses and insights by applying them to the 4 Ps. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your product meet their needs and if not — why?
- Does the price provide value to the customer? Do they think it's worth it?
- Where and how did they learn about your product?
- How are they purchasing your product?
3. Adjust your strategy
Now you can adjust your marketing strategy based on the feedback you received. For example, you may need to lower the price, offer your product through other retailers, or sell it online to make it more accessible for your buyers.
Get started with a marketing mix
The specifics of a marketing mix can be expanded and adjusted to best suit your industry, commerce model, and audience. But whether you use four Ps or nine, the structure of the marketing mix has been an effective tool for decades.
Start mapping your next marketing campaign over the first four Ps or Cs. You’ll soon know if your unique niche or product requires additional Ps.
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