In this article, I will share with you this really strong feeling that I have about how everything in marketing, every success, and failure, boils down to the Marketing Mix, the 4Ps of Marketing.
Further, in order to explain each of the 4 Ps of the marketing mix, I take you through four examples of how each element of the marketing mix makes a world of difference to whatever you are doing in marketing.
Before that, let’s ponder over something basic
What is marketing?
I wrote about it in some detail in my blog post titled ‘But really, what is Marketing?’. But in the most simplistic terms, you could say marketing is about “putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time”.
If you’re in marketing, you have some basic ingredients that you would use to create some magic out of your marketing plan, these ingredients are called the 4Ps or the Marketing Mix.
Marketing Mix is a set of elements, the 4Ps, that are the four decision-making areas in Marketing. And if you begin to think, any marketing decision that you take essentially lies in any one of these areas.
What is the purpose of the Marketing mix?
Its purpose is to ensure the creation and execution of a successful marketing strategy; the attempt is to satisfy both the customer and the seller.
Marketing incorporates all these physical and non-physical, and real and perceptual attributes into four elements of the marketing mix.
This refers to the product or service that the company offers. A product can be a physical object, an intangible service, an idea, a campaign or even a personality.
The product is important because without it, you don’t have a place in the market, and you certainly can’t sell or advertise something that doesn’t exist or doesn’t have any demand.
The price of a product should reflect its value to the customer. This also entails the relative price versus quality level that the product maintains against the competitors.
The marketer’s challenge is to come up with a price that is attractive to consumers while still turning an acceptable profit for the company.
The refers to the place where the product is to be sold (distribution)
In the past, this meant how visible your product was in the physical marketplace. In today’s modern world: where your product appears on the Internet is even more important because your reach online can be global whilst as your reach in the physical marketplace is limited by physical space.
Promotion refers to the marketing communication methods used to inform, persuade, and remind the target market of the product or services, basically any interaction that your company has with the consumer regarding your product.
The marketing mix is a crucial tool to help understand what the product or service can offer and how to plan for a successful product offering.
4Ps of the Marketing Mix
After a brief explanation of the Marketing Mix and the 4Ps, I am going to talk about them in a more direct and practical way. I will use some examples to show how simple (and impactful) the Marketing Mix can be.
Product: Coca-Cola Life
When you come to know that there is a CCoca-Cola with the Green Label somewhere in the world and that it is still not sold worldwide you probably think “What-The-H…?”.
Most people still find it weird but after years of dominating the market with the product and powerful advertising campaign, Coca-Cola found itself in a world where everyone wanted to feel more sustainable and healthier.
So, after 5 years of research, they came up with the Coca-Cola Life, with less sugar and stevia, a natural sweetener.
After a Market test in Chile and Argentina, the product was launched in different countries of the world.
What does this teach about the first P of the marketing mix?
Well, that products must always respond to the needs of the market.
No matter how strong your starting position is, no matter how strong your marketing is (so strong that in the case of Coca-Cola they influenced the way the Western World sees Christmas), there are moments where you have to start from a product.
Seth Godin said: Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.
Price: Organic Apples aren’t Cheap
Pricing doesn’t just mean: go as lower as you can to attack the market. The Book “Ecological Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman talks of how producers and sellers of organic products must raise prices otherwise none will believe it’s REALLY organic!
This is the concept of Price Positioning on which I happen to have done a blog post last week.
Same happens with Apple: considering the hardware and the competition they can be defined unreasonably overpriced but if Apple will launch a new iPhone for 200$ the strong Apple fan base most probably will not react in a positive way.
So, choosing a price instead of another can automatically identify your product to your customers.
Place: Don’t tell everyone what you did last Friday
Another mistake that most people do is trying to get through as many channels as possible. A lot of “improvised” entrepreneurs without any education in that make this mistake to multiply their distribution channels.
The problem is that people will also judge not just what you sell and how much you charge for it, but also where they see you.
Imagine that in your city there is a club that is famous for being a place where illegal activities happen.
Now imagine you end up there on a wild Friday night and your partner’s dad finds out: won’t he get a really bad impression of you? At the same time, your friends will think you are a real badass.
So, the place where you are seen can give you a certain identity according to your target. You want your friends to know where you were Friday night but not your in-laws.
This is the same reason certain brands decide to only sell in their own stores, others don’t sell online and some only sell online: you have to select your sales channels carefully.
Promotion: Loud Enough doesn’t mean Louder
This point can get into thousands of pages without saying anything.
With the concept of promotion, you talk about marketing, advertising, sales strategy and a lot more. What people hardly understand at the beginning is that in a crowded market like our World, being loud enough to be heard in the constant buzz doesn’t mean being louder than everyone.
So, the promotion has nothing to do with exaggerated claims, fake claims, obsessive advertising and all these old-school-tricks.
Yes, they still work for others in certain cases, but they don’t give long-lasting positive fame and sooner or later it will ruin your business.
These old tricks work when you didn’t work on the marketing mix for real (maybe because you don’t have anything valuable to sell) so you have to work all with the promotion.
We tend to think that the 4th P is the most important but this is just because it is the tip of the Iceberg. Promotion is what you see more but there is a lot more than you don’t see.
At the end of the day if you want to succeed in business you have to be looking to create long-lasting relationships with your customers.
And, just as in your personal life, you don’t create any long-lasting relationships by shouting loud, showing off and lying. It is about everything that you are a person. Your marketing mix.