Marketing is a broad term.
Those new to the concept as well as experienced marketers often struggle to define what exactly marketing success looks like.
More than 70 years ago, the American Marketing Association attempted to break it down by defining the “marketing mix,” which essentially encompasses each technique a marketer would need to successfully bring a product or service to market at the right place, right price, and right time.
Over time, we’ve broken it down even further in the 4 p’s of marketing.
What We’ll Cover:
- What are the 4 P’s of Marketing?
- How do You Use the 4 P’s of Marketing?
What are the 4 P’s of Marketing?
The phrase “marketing mix” was first inspired by James Culliton in the 1940s, garnering more recognition after Neil Borden published an article in 1964 entitled “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.”
Eventually, the ideas conveyed in this piece were grouped together to form the 4 p’s of marketing—which stand for product, price, promotion, and place.
While this mix varies from business to business, the core principle remains the same—if your marketing mix doesn’t strike the right balance of all 4 p’s, your company won’t reach its full marketing potential.
The product is the central part of the marketing mix. Without it, there would be nothing to market.
The product can either be a tangible item, an intangible service, or a campaign that fulfills the needs or wants of your customers.
During the product stage, you have to identify your target audience, test the product and make sure it works, and decide where exactly it fits within the marketplace.
And prior to officially marketing your product, you’ll need to have a clear understanding of its unique value proposition.
This may seem intuitive since it’s obviously your product and you’ll likely know it like the back of your hand. But as products move through a product life cycle, it can be easy to overlook certain elements.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you want to determine which product you want to market:
- Who is this product for?
- What pain points is it addressing for customers?
- What features are included in this product?
- What category does the product fall under?
- How does it stand out from similar products on the market?
Decisions regarding your product marketing rollout will depend on factors like:
- Brand name
- Product variety
A few examples of products include:
- Lyft: A ridesharing platform that connects passengers looking for a ride with nearby drivers.
- Burger King: Multinational fast-food chain that specializes in flame-broiled hamburgers.
- Amazon: An online retailer and cloud services provider that sells electronics, books, software, apparel, furniture, and much more.
- Salesforce: A CRM and marketing automation platform that gives marketing, sales, and service departments a shared view of each customer.
- Old Navy: An apparel company that offers affordable clothing and accessories for men, women, and children.
Now, it’s time to define the perceived value of the product.
Properly pricing your product is key to the long-term success of your business.
Set the price too low and you’ll miss out on profits. Lower prices can be viewed as your product having cheaper quality in the eyes of consumers. But set the price too high and you won’t attract customers.
When it comes to pricing, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:
- How much should your product cost?
- How are competitors pricing similar products?
- Which type of pricing structure makes the most sense for your organization?
- What are your cost-of-goods, overhead costs, and distribution fees?
- What discounts or promotions are you willing to run to market the product?
The best business owner will know all the answers to these questions.
Keep in mind—this stage requires a ton of research. With the advent of the internet, people can easily browse online and find similar products or services at a variety of price points. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure the price is right for your customers. Otherwise, they’ll purchase from your competitors instead.
Remember that in general, less competition means you can price higher. In very crowded markets, you can expect customers to price shop, which means you’ll need to price your product accordingly to stay competitive.
There are a number of pricing models that businesses can choose from, including:
- Bundle: Combines several products into one package and sells for a lower price than if they were sold individually.
- Subscription: Periodic payment made at regular intervals in order for customers or organizations to be able to access your product or service.
- Competitive: Takes competitor prices into account when creating your own pricing strategy.
- Economy: Based on the interaction between supply and demand.
- Discount: Temporarily reduces the price of goods to increase customer traffic, clear old inventory, and boost sales.
- Psychological: Sets prices in a way that psychologically and emotionally appeals more to consumers.
This is the fun part. Now that you’ve got your bases covered, you can start actively marketing your product or service.
During the promotion phase, you have two main objectives—to inform potential buyers about your product and to persuade them to make a transaction.
Historically, promotion was limited to television and radio ads, billboards, and word of mouth. Now, marketers have more options than ever before. With the proliferation of social media, there are numerous platforms that can be adopted across the B2B and B2C space.
But, with so many choices, it’s best not to blindly implement every strategy and just invest in the right marketing channels for your business.
It’s also a good idea to find out which promotional methods your competitors are using, the channels your target audience uses most often, and the projected ROI from each of these channels.
Some of the top strategies you can use for promotion include:
- Advertising: Typically paid, with little or no personalized messaging and distributed to mass media like television, radio, or newspapers.
- Personal Selling: Aims to create a personal connection between the customer and the brand.
- Public Relations: Increases product visibility and facilitates relationship-building with journalists, bloggers, influencers, and media outlets.
- Direct Marketing: Targets specific potential users via telemarketing and customized letters, postcards, and emails.
- Sales Promotion: Short-term offerings like contests, coupons, and seasonal discounts that seek to encourage a spike in sales.
Whether you’re selling your product at a brick and mortar store or online, place refers to how you get your products and services in front of potential customers. Where will they be made available for sale?
Place is a vital component of the marketing mix because how people receive your product plays a major role in how it should be marketed.
If you’re running a local retail business, it will make more sense to direct sales at your location or through an online store. Or you can sell through a wholesaler or reseller as they may have a larger distribution network and customer base.
Mobile apps are also helping businesses process electronic transactions. Not only is it practical with more users using smartphones to shop, but apps are ideal for repeat business. It’s never been easier for companies to launch campaigns and deliver push notifications directly to customers.
A few things to remember when thinking about place include:
- Did you conduct any market research to see how your target audience shops?
- Where do consumers typically buy similar products from your competitors?
- Which channels provide the best experience for your consumers?
- Do you need dedicated sales reps to assist with selling your product?
- Is there an opportunity for customers to purchase your items through a new channel?
How Do You Use the 4 P’s of Marketing?
Now that we’ve answered, “What are the 4 p’s of marketing?” It’s time to break down how to incorporate each of the 4 p’s into your overall marketing mix. We’ve broken down the process step-by-step below:
- Clearly define the product or service you want to analyze. This may sound obvious, but before you even think about creating your marketing mix, it’s important to focus on one product or service that you are attempting to market.
- Assess how your product meets your customers’ needs. Your product should address a specific pain point for customers. It’s important that you’re able to articulate what their needs are and how your product or service can meet them. This information will come in handy when developing a marketing campaign that communicates to your customers why they should buy from you.
- Understand the places where your target audience shops. Evaluate what sorts of retail stores and online platforms your target customers frequent. If your product is being sold in a physical storefront, make sure that it’s also accessible in areas where your customer base lives and at stores where they visit.
- Establish the price for your product. Draw on market research to come up with an appropriate price for your product that will appeal to your ideal buyer persona. Price valuation should rely on market research and economic data regarding the spending habits of your customer base.
- Create marketing messaging around your product. Formulate marketing concepts that will appeal to your consumers and find creative ways to convey why it’s useful to them. This is also the point where you’ll decide which marketing channels you’ll want to invest in.
- Look at the 4 Ps for your product and see how well they all fit together. Once you’ve crafted a cohesive marketing mix, look at each of your 4 p’s and decide if your plan is cohesive. Constructing a marketing mix requires coming up with a plan where each p works in tandem with one another.
- Continue to revisit your marketing mix and refine it over time. With any successful marketing strategy, you need to consistently make adjustments so you can achieve a better return on your investment in marketing. The needs of your potential buyers might also change as may the profile of your product. Remember—the elements of the marketing mix are not stagnant. They are meant to be tweaked and polished over the course of a product’s life cycle to increase the accuracy of your targeting and improve overall customer satisfaction.
Although marketing may have evolved since the 4 p’s of marketing were first introduced, the foundational concepts have not.
Understanding your customer, your competitors, and your company, and leveraging that knowledge to promote your product, is essentially what it all boils down to.
So now that you can successfully answer the question—what are the 4 p’s of marketing? —it’s time for you to start devising a marketing strategy that can effectively reach customers, make sales, and take your business to new heights.