Marketing Mix and 4Ps: How to Effectively Position Your Market Offering
What is the one thing that intrigues consumers to engage with a business right before going out to buy their products and services?
Great marketing never happens by chance and it isn’t an easy task to accomplish either.
Imagine cooking a delicious meal. In order for the dish to come out right, the cook has to hit the right balance between the ingredients that are to be used for the recipe and methods of preparation according to the recipe.
Any mishap, for instance, adding a tablespoon of salt instead if a pinch could ruin the entire dish.
Similarly, a business has to have the appropriate branding know-how as well as employ the right advertising techniques to deliver the most optimal marketing campaign for their target audience.
But unlike cooking a meal, it takes months or even years of considerable effort for their marketing strategies to finally pay off.
Of course, putting in the right elements is challenging, but a framework or marketing mix may help clarify what you need to do and where you should focus your sights on.
WHAT DO WE KNOW OF THE MARKETING MIX?
In 1953, “Marketing mix” is a term that was coined over 60 years ago by professor Neil Borden to the American Marketing Association (AMA) in his presidential address.
The marketing mix is typically a set of various factors that influence a consumer’s decision to purchase and use a product or service.
This refers to the 4Ps of marketing; product, price, promotion, and place.
Businesses can use these four factors to a certain degree.
Once a firm learns how to make use of them strategically, they can produce the desired behaviors from target audiences whether it is signing up as a subscriber or purchasing a product.
What’s more is that marketing mix also helps businesses get a better understanding of their product and service offerings as well as come up with the finest ways to plan for a marketing strategy and a successful launch. This applies to startups, small businesses, and online businesses.
THE 4Ps OF MARKETING
Seven years after Borden’s speech, the 4Ps of marketing was created by marketing professor E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960.
It is a framework used by businesses and marketers when designing strategies and campaigns to promote their goods and services.
Instead of taking the organic route, as in, waiting for people to notice you one day (which could be a very long time), you can shorten the gap and also boost conversions with a framework. E
ach of the Ps in the 4Ps model is elemental in influencing a consumer’s decision-making process.
Product refers to not just the goods and/or services that a business offers to their target audience, but also the experience that consumers have with those goods and services.
This P essentially provides answers to the following questions:
- What is it that makes customers choose your product over others?
- What kinds of problems does it solve?
- Why do people find your goods and/or services attractive?
There could be a series of underlying elements for the last question.
For instance, customers could be attracted to a product’s packaging, name, quality, features, design, ease-of-use, or support.
Sure the payment is for the physical product, but the purchase itself is influenced by the whole buying experience.
In fact, all of the elements in the 4Ps model are centered around the customer.
But to conduct a successful sale, it is crucial for a business to know who their audience is and what they care about.
Besides that, you have to create buyer personas, conduct customer research and learn as much about your current and potential customer base as you can.
All of these details can help you make decisions that are able to appeal to and resonate within your target audiences.
You don’t want to price your products and/or services that are too high or too low for your customers. If the price is too high, people may assume you’re being greedy.
But if the price is too low, people may assume that the good or service isn’t very effective.
You’ll find it pretty hard to make a sale, especially if you’re a new company and people don’t know who you are or what you sell.
Fortunately, businesses employ a number of pricing strategies to increase their selling chances, including subscription, bundle, economy, competitive, discount and psychological pricing.
You may have noticed that at grocery stores, generic food brands have lower prices than name-brands. This is what’s called economy pricing.
There are even prices with odd decimals, such as “53.99” or “3.97” that are usually seen at department stores.
This is called psychological pricing which is done to convince people that a product is less expensive. It’s also commonly practiced in auto sales.
More importantly, the strategy you opt for has to be based on the value of your product, the cost of production and distribution, consumer demand and competitive landscape.
The price can even be greatly influenced by your consumers.
But you have to price your products realistically. If, let’s say your target market is in the middle-income bracket, then charging $900+ for a handbag is impractical.
Promotion refers to telling people about your products and services. It covers every aspect and tactic of communication that can help you get the word out.
In case you’re wondering, promotion isn’t interchangeable with marketing. Promotion focuses on how you communicate your product or service to your audience.
Not only does it cover the entire marketing function, but it also addresses the sales process and other areas including advertising and public relations.
But the whole point of promotion isn’t just to sell a product (even though that is one of the more crucial functions of a business).
Before you can even come to the transaction part, it is vital for you to inform people about the kind of products and services you sell, the kinds of problems they solve and why they are worth buying.
Having a good looking product helps, but the main takeaway of a promotion is to ensure that it solves the specific need of your customer.
During the promotional stage, you have to ensure that your message is both clear and tailored to your target audience.
Inform them about the features that come with your products and services and how they are beneficial.
Some of the questions that you must ask yourself include:
- What differentiates your business from your competitors?
- Does it provide products of high quality at lower prices?
- Does your company offer a faster service and more flexibility?
If you want your promotional message to get across and attract potential customers, you have to include those differentiators in order to set yourself apart from your rivals.
When keeping your audience as the focal point of your promotion, you will know which channel to use to get the word out.
Also, keep these questions in mind when developing promotional messages to your customers:
- What types of content do customers consume on a daily basis?
- Where are they situated?
- What times of the day are they consuming the most content?
Here are some of the most common channels that businesses use for promotional purposes:
- Social media
- Press releases
- Public relations
- Television ads
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
Place refers to the distribution of your company’s products. It answers how customers will be able to find and purchase your goods and services as well as whether it will be sold at retail stores or exclusively online.
The two most common distribution channels include direct sales and wholesalers.
If, for instance, you operate a local retail business, then it is likely you will use direct sales at your location. You can also choose to offer some items online.
But whether in-store or online, you are the main contact who manages and shapes the overall customer experience.
The second option for businesses to sell their goods and services is through a reseller or a wholesaler.
If you’re selling stuff through Walmart or Amazon, then you fit the category.
One great advantage of working with a wholesaler is that they usually have a wider distribution network and a larger customer-base.
But even though it’s possible to reach out to more customers, you may also lose some of that customer connection that comes with direct sales.
Aside from that, it can also be an extremely difficult and lengthy process to reach a deal with a bigtime wholesaler like Walmart.
Another thing is that if your business doesn’t have a consistent supply of products all year, then intermediary sales is not the right place for it.
But if your business includes sales or products that are seasonal or available for a limited time only, then direct sales are better option.
When planning a marketing strategy, there’s a considerable difference between knowing the framework and then having to put it into practice.
Here’s a step-by-step process on what you should be doing:
MARKETING STRATEGY TEMPLATE
Now that you understand what the model is, the next thing to do is to use it.
To do that, you first need to have a solid understanding of your target market, or your ideal customer.
Define Your Target Audience
If you have already worked out the ideal customer for your goods and services, you have to describe them as well.
Consider the following information:
- Socioeconomic status
- Education level
- Hobbies and interests
- Profession or industry they are in
- Common problems they face
- Other identifying characteristics
When you’ve developed a clear understanding of the kind of target audience you’re aiming for, you can begin developing the 4Ps of marketing, starting with product.
What are Your Products and Benefits?
The first thing you should do for your strategy is to describe your products and services as well as the qualities and benefits that come with them and your company.
Other details to touch upon are:
- Packaging and Design
- Warranties (If there are any.)
Consider Toggle as an example
- Project management
- Team management
- Manage individual and team projects
- Able to track work online and offline
- View billable hours and generate reports
- Assess and improve productivity
Packaging and Design:
Since Toggl is a digital app, it doesn’t have a physical product packaging. Though it does have a simple design and a user interface.
Just like that, you have to describe your own products and services using these parameters. After that, you can compare these product qualities with those of your competitors.
You will then be able to identify one or two benefits of your product that are better than your competitors and have their customers coming over to you potentially or eventually.
Some of Toggle’s main highlights include:
- Accurate and honest client billing process
- Better internal resource planning for businesses
- Increasing productivity by making work time more focused
Your product can have a number of benefits, but you should focus more on the ones that are both unique and help you stand out from your competitors.
Select the Right Price
Pricing products can be really tricky game. If let’s say, you’re a reseller, you can use the manufacturer’s suggested retail price as a basis.
But if your product is made completely by your own hands, then you have to consider a couple of factors.
To set a price for your products and services, answer the following questions:
- What is your revenue goal?
- How much money are you expecting to make?
- How much would my target audience be willing to pay?
- What are your overhead costs?
- What price rates do your competitors charge?
- What is a typical price for the industry?
- What are the ideal production and distribution costs per unit?
Apart from the amount, you need to determine the frequency that you will charge your customers and the kind of pricing strategy you’re going to use.
For example, Toggl uses monthly subscription pricing, which is based on the number of users and the size of the business.
Though most organizations are fine with the linear Waterfall PM strategy, some managers in certain fields find it to be quite restricting.
If they plan only at the beginning of the project, they will lose the advantage of the knowledge and experience that they gain while completing it.
The subscription model is comparable to other freelancer and enterprise apps in the market, but is still competitively priced.
Promotion and Sales
The first thing to consider for promotion is the best way for you to market and sell your product.
Since toggl is an online app, the manufacturers are able to focus on digital sales straight from their site.
But if you want to interact with customers in-person, then you have to have a physical location.
For example, a beauty spa or a hair salon needs a store location in order to conduct their business.
You have to research whatever your competitors are up to as you are likely targeting the same demographic as well as using the same channels as they are.
In this case, the only way to differentiate yourself from them is how you communicate with your audience.
The next step is to consider the best way to reach out to your customers.
If your audience is, for example, people over the age of 50-60, you may not have as much success in promoting your products and services on Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Instagram.
Instead, you can reach them more effectively by word-of-mouth, television or print.
But if your target audience members are the tech-savvy millennials, then social media is your go-to option.
If you use all of the above methods effectively, the 4Ps model can efficiently guide and direct your marketing and business strategies.
They can help both businesses and marketers learn more about the needs and buying behaviors of their customers.
Even though the marketing mix and 4Ps model has been around for decades, they aren’t completely flawless.
With that in mind, there are some limitations and criticisms that you should be aware of when applying this model.
WEAKNESSES OF THE MARKETING MIX
The 4Ps of the marketing mix have several weaknesses in which they leave out or underemphasize a couple of important marketing activities.
For instance, services are not overtly mentioned, although they can be categorized as products (like service products).
Other marketing activities (like packaging) are not specifically mentioned but are placed in one of the 4Ps.
Another major problem is that the 4Ps focus on the seller’s view of the market when it is the buyer’s view that should be focused on the most.
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