All too often, we think about marketing as being advertising and nothing else, but your marketing mix is going to determine your sales and it consists of a lot more than just advertising and promotions.

If you’ve been investigating this for yourself, you may have found some confusing results. Some people say it’s about the 4 P’s, others say that there are actually 7 P’s and still other authorities will tell you that it’s actually 4C’s. What are they talking about, and who is right?

Let’s go through the different theories and see what will be right for your business. Luckily, these different P’s and C’s aren’t really disagreeing with each other! What it comes down to is knowing your target market and tailoring your marketing mix to suit your consumers.

The 4Ps

This way of summing up the marketing mix was developed by a marketer named Jerome McCarthy in the sixties. It is still generally accepted and it makes excellent sense. Here are your Ps:

Product

Your product doesn’t have to be tangible, it can be an intangible service too. Define it as the item you offer in order to satisfy a need. Products have a life cycle. Unless your idea is completely novel, you need to determine whether your product is in a growth, maturity or decline phase. You really need to know your market.

  • What need does your product fulfill and who will buy it?
  • How and where will it be used?
  • What features will be required for your product to fulfill a need?
  • Is your product’s name appropriate and memorable?
  • Will you offer variants?
  • Does it look good?
  • Most important of all, what’s your competitive edge? Is your product really better than that of your competitors?

Price

This is a ticklish question. It’s not just about setting a price that’s profitable. Your pricing will create certain perceptions and get specific reactions from consumers. Price too high, and no-one will buy what you’re offering, price too low, and people will think it’s ‘cheap’ and possibly inferior. Understanding your consumer and your market is essential in determining a pricing strategy.

  • Market penetration pricing: charging low prices to get market share and then gradually increasing them.
  • Market skimming pricing: selling for the highest price consumers will pay and then decreasing prices over time (common in technological products)
  • Neutral Pricing: charging consumers what they’d expect to pay for similar products.

In determining the right strategy, keep the following in mind:

  • Production costs
  • Perceived value
  • Competitor pricing

There’s only one valid reason for going in with a low price and that’s the possibility of getting more market share. It isn’t a given. Find out how pricing will affect your market.

Place

Where you offer your product is a vitally important element of your marketing mix. After all, a jeweler isn’t going to get business if he sets up shop in an industrial area and a builder will be regarded with suspicion if he sets up shop in a high-end mall. If you’re selling to retailers, you need to decide whether or not you’re going to be picky about who you supply and how this could affect your business.

  • Where would clients look for your product?
  • How would you get access to the kind of store / online presence that would get noticed?
  • Can your distribution strategy or business placement give you a competitive edge?
  • Do you have a strong online presence?

Promotion

At last, we reach the P that everyone thinks of in connection with marketing – and there’s more to this P than just advertising too. It consists of:

  • Your sales team
  • Your public image
  • Advertising
  • Sales promotions

Plan your promotional strategy as carefully as you planned for your product, distribution and pricing strategies.

  • How can you make yourself heard in your market?
  • Is timing important?
  • Can you leverage social media?
  • How are your competitors promoting their products?

Knowing your market is the most important consideration in developing a marketing mix that will appeal to the consumer. Before you can market, you need to know who you are targeting.

3 more Ps

The additional three P’s are generally considered to be most useful in developing the right marketing mix for a service offering, but they can also be applied to products.

People

This P is not only about the people that you hope to influence into buying your product, but it’s also about the people you’ll employ, too. Knowing the extent and demographics of your target market isn’t going to be enough unless you can get the right people on your side to make it all work.

  • How will you hire and/or train the right people to present your product to the market?
  • How will you motivate your employees so that they genuinely believe in your product?
  • How can you ensure that your staff will offer better service than your competitors do?

Regardless of whether you are offering a tangible or intangible product, your staff could give you the competitive edge you need to win market share.

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Process

Efficient processes allow you to deliver services in a professional way and they save you time and money. Develop your processes in advance. In practice, you may find that you need to make some changes, but having a clear roadmap to start off with means that you’ll be ‘tweaking’ the processes rather than re-inventing them.

Physical evidence

If you’re producing a product, your product offers all the physical evidence that’s needed to show that you actually delivered something. In the services industry, the question becomes more complex. Branding is a form of physical evidence. Think about the gym you belong to. If it’s a leading establishment, you’re confronted with their brand from the time you walk in the door until the moment you leave. Their name trips off your tongue whenever the conversation turns to fitness. Think about how you will establish your business in the hearts and minds of your target market.

The 4Cs

The 4 C’s are very similar to the P’s we already looked at, but the concept is newer and offers variations that will give you food for thought. In short, the 4 C’s are:

  • Cost
  • Consumer wants and needs
  • Communication
  • Convenience

The creator of this model, Robert Lauterborn points out that there’s more to cost than just your price tag. How will spending on your product affect a consumer’s conscience? What will they have to do without in order to pay for your product? Although the P’s model relies on consumer demand as determined by wants and needs, Lauterborn feels that there is an insufficient emphasis on this aspect in the P’s model. He argues that promotion is manipulative whereas communication is more open-ended and ensures valuable feedback regarding client perceptions. Convenience is similar to the ‘Place’ element in the P’s model, but Lauterborn emphasizes that visibility and ease of access are essential elements.

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The Bottom line

Having a clear understanding of the marketing mix you are going to apply to your product really can help you to maximize your profits. In the process of evaluating your products according to any one of the models discussed, you will compile valuable information regarding your market, how and where to make your product available and how much it should cost. By doing your homework, you can ensure that you apply the maximum amount of effort to the market segments that are most likely to become your clients.

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