The marketing mix is a concept first coined by Neil Borden in the 1950s. Borden was an advertising professor at Harvard University using the term about 15 years in his lectures before writing an article about it. In between its first conceptualisation and that article, the concept had caught on. In 1960, Jerome McCarthy of Michigan State University further popularised the concept of the marketing mix in his book and refined those ideas into the 4Ps of marketing we recognise today.
The 4Ps marketing mix refers to a blend of strategies and practices that drive business and successful promotion. Elements of the marketing mix include Product, Price, Place, and Promotion – hence the 4 Ps of marketing. These elements interact with each other and a failure to consider one element may lead to subpar marketing.
The first step to marketing is considering what you are marketing. Product refers to the good or service that your business offers to customers. Ideally, a product should fill an existing demand. It needs to be something that customers are willing to pay a price for. One way to do this is to make your product the best it can be and optimise your production lines, making it the focal point of your marketing. This is known as “product-led” marketing.
When thinking about your product, consider some key features. These features need to be beneficial by themselves, but they also need to stand up against competition. Consider the functionality, branding, packaging, quality, appearance, and warranty terms. Know who you are marketing towards and how these elements of a product can be used to entice your target market.
Successful marketers need to understand the features of a product and its life cycle. It is the bedrock on which the other elements of the marketing mix depend on regardless of the interdependency of those elements. The kind of product will partially determine how much it can be priced for, where it should be placed, and how it can be promoted in the marketplace.
Price is the cost that customers pay for the product or service. Marketers need to link the product to its real and perceived value while also keeping in mind supply costs, discounts, and competitors’ prices. Pricing should optimise profits. A product that flies off the shelves at a net loss is just as bad for business as an overly expensive product that rarely provides any income.
Several pricing strategies exist to make the most out of a product’s price beyond just “charge more than it costs to make or maintain”. Consider what you are trying to achieve with your pricing strategy and plan accordingly. There is more to the thought process behind customer purchases than just affordability.
Where will you sell your product? When will you sell your product? How will you sell your product? This is what Place refers to in the marketing mix. The research that informed your decisions regarding product and price may inform your decisions regarding placement.
Timing is important when it comes to business and marketing. Consider, does your Halloween-themed products sell as well outside of the spooky season? Perhaps there will be demand for a product in the future, but there is not one at this current moment. If you only offer the product once a week, when is the best time in that week to do so?
Where the product is sold can be more specific than the general geographical location or the specific stores. Where in the store is the product being placed? If you plan to expand your business online, are your customers comfortable purchasing online? Consider how the product will get to the places where it is sold. Look into distribution channels, logistics, and service levels.
Promotion is the part of the marketing mix most of the public notices. It is the advertising, public relations, and promotional strategy behind marketing. This is where marketers are responsible for telling your target market about your product and why they need it. Product placement, content marketing, search engine optimisation etc. are all part of promotion. Promotion is how the other aspects of the marketing mix makes it the audience. If Product is the foundation that supports the other elements, Promotion is the packaging that wraps everything up into a neat, consumable bow.
Promotion costs can be substantial, so it is important to consider the return of investment. If a large promotional campaign fails to improve on the profits that a small one can provide, then the large campaign is unnecessary. Establish your target audience and what media they consume. That provides a good starting point when deciding on appropriate channels to promote through.
But that’s not all…
The 4Ps of marketing was conceptualised when businesses were more likely to sell items rather than services. The role of service was less understood. Since then, a few derivatives of the marketing mix surfaced such as the 5Ps, 7Ps and 8Ps of marketing.
Bernard Booms and Mary Bitner further refined the idea of the 4Ps of marketing to include service marketing. Another three elements were added to the initial 4Ps of marketing to create the 7Ps of marketing – also known as the extended marketing mix. These elements are People, Physical Evidence, and Process.
People refers to anyone involved in selling, representing customers, marketing, designing, managing, recruiting, and training. Maintaining a brand image is important in the marketing mix and is a product of both customer-handling and business presentation.
Staff training builds the basis of how your business interacts with its customers. This is important in a customer-centric business approach. Poor training can creep down into other layers of a business. A well-trained workforce at all levels that are on the same page allows for consistent business ethic and presentation which is what ultimately arrives at customers. You want a positive brand image that resonates with customers.
Customer-service is pivotal in dictating a customer’s experience with a business. People can easily be deterred by poor service even if they really want a product or service, especially if your competitors offer a similar product or service. In the service market, loyalty is all the more important.
Physical evidence in the marketing mix is more than just proof of purchase. It encompasses the overall existence of your brand. Your website, social media, and branding outside of the promotional aspects serve as physical evidence of your brand. Customers want businesses that are active and present which is why the People are important in creating this physical evidence.
Physical evidence fosters the reliability, legitimacy, viability of your business in the minds of customers. You need to take into consideration the things that customers experience in relation to your brand – from first awareness all the way up to sale and after.
Process refers to the series of actions and events that are involved in delivering the product or service to customers. Process underlies all the other aspects of the marketing mix and optimizing your process means optimizing these other elements as well. A seamless and personalised process leads to happier customers who are more willing to return for more.
Processes need to minimise costs while maximising profits. Prioritise on processes that underlie customer experiences. Specific and seamless processes allow staff to carry out procedures easily and efficiently. The less time staff need to take to carry out processes, the more time and effort they can put into presenting a positive customer experience.
Oftentimes, customer complaints arise from poor processes. Late shipping, additional costs, and poor communication are all products of poor processes. Make sure the pieces fit the processing puzzle while drawing up your marketing strategy.