If you are new to the term marketing mix, this refers to a foundation concept that determines how brands target customers and achieve their sales objectives. It includes the so-called 4Ps (product, price, promotion and place), which cover broad levels of marketing decision-making and strategy.
What Are the Origins of the Marketing Mix?
The basic premise of marketing has existed for more than 1000 years, but more advanced theories began to emerge in the early 20th century. As a growing number of businesses formed and competition was intensified across multiple markets, however, the need for more strategic thinking emerged and it was in 1960 that the contemporary marketing mix was first published.
This provided a framework for marketing management decisions, while the 4Ps established guidelines that could help to increase efficiency and ROI. This is best applied to product marketing, and it is interesting to note that an expanded version has been developed for brands that are bringing services to market. This includes 7Ps, with the original four complimented by process, people and physical evidence.
The 4Ps Explored
To understand the application and importance of the 4Ps, we need to look at each one in detail. For example:
The focal point of your marketing efforts, product refers to an item or range that meets an existing consumer need or gap in the market. This will drive a number of core marketing decisions, particularly those pertaining to design, packaging, labeling, returns and the management of your product’s life-cycle. These represent strategic elements of your marketing campaign, as they will dictate costs, drive sales and establish your profit margin per unit sale.
The importance of your product cannot be underestimated, while it is crucial that it is designed with a clear focus and to fulfill a specific purpose. As Seth Godin once said ; “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers,” and this underlines the process that you should follow when defining your product’s proposition.
Here are some questions to consider when conceiving your product and bringing it to market:
- Does it Meet a Need or Fill a Gap in the Market?
- Does it Solve a Pertinent Consumer Problem?
- Can it Be Made and Sold for a Profit?
Price usually refers to the amount that a customer pays for your product, while during the concept stage it can be applied to the amount consumers are prepared to sacrifice to for a specific type of product. This is important as it dictates the value proposition of your product and the amount that you should spend on developing it, as it offers a clear insight into how it is perceived in a real-time market.
The retail price that you can sell at will ultimately determine the ROI of your marketing campaigns, while it also underlines the basic purpose of marketing products in the first place. According to Alex Way, the managing director of travel specialists Justflybusiness.co.uk, “brands must also be more savvy and flexible on their pricing structure, while focusing their attention on providing as much tangible and intangible value to their customers”.
Here are some questions to consider when appraising the price of your product:
- What Profit Margin Does Your Price Allow For?
- Can the Market Bear Your Proposed Price Point?
- Do you Have a Tiered Strategy that Includes Wholesale and Retail Prices?
- Have You Included Rebates for Distributors?
- How Will Consumers Will be Able to Pay for Your Products?
Promotion refers to your core marketing communications, comprising elements such as PR, advertising, direct marketing and sales promotions. It drives decisions relating to the precise nature of each campaign, as you look to create a balanced and integrated campaign that effectively targets specific customer segments and utilizes relevant messaging. Obviously, there is a greater focus on digital marketing in the modern age, but traditional channels such as print and billboard advertising also remain relevant.
Ultimately, it is not the channel that determines the success of your marketing efforts, but the content that drives them. This is a thought echoed by marketing guru David Ogilvy , who reinforces the idea that while it is important to target customers through relevant channels you must focus primarily on the messaging used to engage audiences.
Here are some questions to consider when driving individual promotions:
- What Marketing Channels Do Your Target Audience Use?
- How Can You Use These Channels to Effectively Showcase Your Product?
- What is the Core Message That You Want to Communicate?
- How Often Should You Communicate on Each Platform?
Place refers to the access that customers have to your product, and drives decisions pertaining to distribution. These include the primary delivery method of your product, and the options that will create a seamless and convenient journey for consumers. This is the aspect of marketing that has changed the most in the digital age, with an increasing number of products now sold online and across a global consumer network.
So while the 4Ps are more important than ever and traditional concepts like selective distribution remain key, the notion of place has evolved to include online stores, social media platforms and even influencer blogs.
Here are some questions to consider when leveraging place in your campaigns:
- Have You Afforded Your Products as Much Market Coverage as Possible?
- Have you Considered All Potential Channels Where Your Product Can be Referenced and Sold?
- Have you Determined a Viable Strategy in Relation to Inventory?
- How Will You Ship Online Products Once They Have Been Sold?
The Extend 7Ps: How Does This Change the Landscape?
Aside from the changing nature of place, the 4Ps have remained fairly consistent over time. As you can see, however, they are not necessarily suited to the marketing or sale of products, which is why Booms and Bitner proposed extending this model to 7Ps in 1981 and including process, people and physical evidence as part of the mix. There has been further proposals for extension of the model since this time, but the majority of service providers continue to persist with the 7P strategy.
So, let’s explore this in closer detail and determine how these impact on your strategy:
While process has direct links to place, it refers specifically to how your service is delivered from the back-office perspective to the point of sale. This differs from place in that the delivery of your service is usually performed in the presence of the customer, so there must be a keen focus on the quality of service, the speed of delivery and the nature of the interaction that your representatives have with customers.
Here are some questions to consider when considering process:
- Which Areas of Your Service Involve Human Interaction?
- Can the Speed of Your Service be Improved by Automation Without Impacting on its Quality?
- Have You Strived to Simplify the Customer Journey?
This is arguably one of the most important elements of your marketing campaigns, whether you are selling products direct to consumers or delivering a professional service. People buy from people after all, so the success of your venture relies on the recruitment and retention of the right people in your marketing and sales departments. This applies to all levels of the businesses infrastructure, from field operatives to strategic managers.
Here are some questions to consider when managing the people in your marketing teams:
- Do you Have a Profile of the Type of Marketer You Want to Recruit?
- Do You Have Your People in the Right Positions?
- Can You Leverage the Personality of Your Staff to Enhance Your Marketing Efforts?
Finally, we have physical evidence, which relates to the corporeal elements that are included in the service that the consumer pays for. This applies even if the bulk of what the consumer purchases is intangible, and it may include examples such as beauty treatments, virtual documents (sent through email) and a haircut. These manifestations are evidence of the service provided, while they can also be used to drive future campaigns and support the quality of your brand as a whole.
Here are some questions to consider when managing the physical evidence and the manifestation of your service:
- Is Your Service Designed to Deliver the Best Possible Outcome?
- Have You Factored in Intangible Elements When Costing Your Service?
- Do You Leverage the Physical Evidence of Your Service to Drive Your Marketing Drives?
In Summary: What Are the 4Cs and How Do They Relate?
As you can see, these principles create separate frameworks that can help brands to successfully market both products and services. You may also have heard about the 4Cs, however, which has provided an alternative outlook for brands and one that has particular relevance in an age where customers have more influence than ever before.
In simple terms, the 4Cs force you to change your perspective as a marketer, as you adopt a consumer-centric outlook and consider your campaigns through the eyes of consumers. This provides a stark contrast to the business-focused nature of the 4Ps, and many experts believe that exploring both simultaneously helps you to create more rounded and effective marketing campaigns.
Here is a breakdown of the 4Cs :
The alternative to product, client asks you to consider a specific consumer need or demand that exists in the market. This insight then drives the design of your product, which serves as the solution to the issues that you strategically identified.
Similar to price, costs relates to the financial development of your product and the impact that this has on customers. The most important aspect of this is appraising the total cost to the consumer, and whether or not this delivers the requisite value.
This refers to all interactions between your brand and its customers, and more specifically the way in which primary, secondary and tertiary messaging is perceived. The idea of this is to determine how clearly your core message comes across, and whether or not you are effectively engaging target segments.
This relates directly to place, as it refers to how and where customers want to purchase your products. Once again, there is heavy focus online here, particularly as customers continue to gravitate towards virtual shopping and fluid e-commerce model (experts estimate that global online sales will reach a staggering $1.915 trillion  by the end of 2017).
Clearly, there is a strong relation between the 4Ps and the 4Cs, with the latter simply considering similar marketing elements and decisions from a consumer-centric viewpoint. The difference between the two concepts is defined by the outlook of marketers, of course, with one driving business-focused decisions and the other executing strategies based on the needs of customers.
Given the consumer-centric nature of marketing in 2017, however, it makes sense to apply both while making balanced decisions that optimise savings and increase your ROI simultaneously.
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