In our day to day lives, we are surrounded by products and services all around us. Did you ever stop to think how these products land up around you to the limit that there’s no more room for anything else? The things that you’ve been using, how did they come into your hands in the first place? Why did you think of buying it? What made you choose it?
Take the laptop you are reading this article on, for example. Where did you buy it and for how much? And why just this particular model and not something else? What attracted you towards buying it? Was it the promotional activities conducted by the company, or was it the product itself?
As a marketer, you know exactly where my questions are leading, don’t you? But if you are a layman, unaware of the marketing world, we are talking about the Four P’s of Marketing. The Four P’s, i.e., Price, Product, Promotion, and Place, that form the fundamental pillars holding the foundation of any marketing strategy. It is also called The Marketing Mix.
Wait, we are starting in the middle of the story. Let’s start right at the beginning.
Once Upon A Time Where It All Began…
Although the term “The Marketing Mix” sounds fancy to the point that one can believe it to be a modern concept. But the reality is far from it. Let’s go back in time a little…
1940’s- The very first time the concept of The Marketing Mix was ever brought up, it was in 1948 by Prof. James Culliton. He published an article named ‘The Management of Marketing Costs’ in which he described marketers as 'The Mixers of Ingredients'.
1950’s- This concept was later taken ahead by his colleague, Neil Borden. Mr Borden popularised the idea of The Marketing Mix and its concepts which would later be known as the Four P’s in the 1950s.
1960’s- Even as the concept caught on, its contents were still very vague. The 4P’s, as we know today, was first suggested by E. Jerome McCarthy. He spoke of an approach that covered aspects from market research to segmentation and planning to consumer behaviour. This effort was further boosted by Philip Kotler, known to us today as the Father of Marketing.
The Four P’s of Marketing - The Marketing Mix
Let us introduce you to the concept that seems basic; however, is anything but that. In simple words, it can be defined as allocating the right product/service in its right place at the right time for the right price. Seems pretty straightforward, eh?
It sure is simple, but behind this simple façade is the humongous effort that needs to be put forth by marketers and companies. Why? Because the miss of even one of these P’s can prove to be a failure for the product/service, costing the company substantially.
The Marketing Mix is an essential tool that puts forward an understanding of what your product/service is all about and how you can best plan for a successful offering to the customer.
Now one may think reading this that well, this is only for large companies. That is simply not true. The smaller your company is, the more you need to leverage your 4P’s. Why? Because if you don’t, how do you plan to turn into one of those large companies yourself?
Here are the Four P’s of Marketing:
Product (Or Service)
Although each ‘P’ is equally important, the ‘P for Product’ still weighs more than the others. Well for obvious reasons, if you do not have a product or service to offer, the rest of the P’s kind of fall flat.
You need not worry about the kind of product that The Marketing Mix can apply to. So long as you have something to offer your customer, you’ve got The Marketing Mix working for you. It could be something expensive, such as a cell phone or something inexpensive, like a handkerchief. Services too could be anything from a physio consult to massage sessions and even home cleaning and repairs.
There are three things that you need to define while looking at your product:
What exactly is your product/service? What is its Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
Today the market is stiff in competition, and there are thousands of companies out there that are selling similar products to yours, so how do YOU stand apart? What is it that you are offering that isn’t being offered by anyone else in the market?
Which stage of the product life cycle is your product entering the market? Is it a product entering at its birth and has a long way to go? Or will it exist for a short term hence entering at the maturity stage?
All products have a tangible Product Life Cycle (PLC), and marketers need to consider their strategy in terms of the various changes and challenges brought by the various stages of PLC.
The last thing you need to narrow down is the audience for your product.
Who are you catering your product to? Is it new mothers, children, young adults or everybody?
The price factor means deciding the price at which you offer your product or service to the customer. But how do you decide the price at which you want to offer it? Remember, the price factor plays a vital role because it will determine the way your customers perceive your brand - expensive or cheap.
Here’s what you can do:
If you want to understand and know more about how to set the right price for your product/service, you can read blogs such as Price Intelligently Blog. These are experts on setting a price for the product and can also tell you a lot more on the external factors to consider while setting your product price.
Answer the question: Is my product a niche or is in a general market with a multitude of competitors?
If you are launching a product that is a niche and unexplored, you can charge a premium amount for it. However, if your product is one amongst the thousands already present in the market, offering your product at the lowest price is your best bet.
The price can also be determined depending upon the product demand in the market. If the demand is high, then it can be priced high because it is understandable that the customer will pay for the same.
Other factors that you need to keep in mind while determining the price are prices charged by competition and the price set by leaders in the niche etc. The pandemic has led to economic losses the world over and therefore, in the post-pandemic scenario, it is best to consider the financial status of your audience while setting a price for your product.
Ideally, in marketing, the place is an important deciding factor for the product. A place or location is one where you will set shop. But don’t choose a location that is feasible for you. Instead, pick one where your customers are. Don’t expect your customers to come to you but you must bring your products/services to them.
When choosing your ideal place or location, you can consider the following questions.
Where are your customers- both online and offline?
Do you want a B2B or a B2C approach to business?
Keep the customer in mind whenever you are deciding the place for it is the customer that will be purchasing your product/service and so the location needs to be feasible for them. Today the place factor has diminished value in the eyes of the customer as people are afraid to step out of their homes thanks to the pandemic. Therefore, strongly consider setting up your product on online platforms to reach your customer.
Now that you’ve decided on your product, the price at which you're selling it and the place where it will be available to the customer, it’s time to think of ways to promote it.
Your promotional strategy needs to work both ways. One, it needs to be created with the thought of attracting the customer to your product. On the other hand, you need to create a promotional strategy that generates revenue for your brand.
Some of the promotional tools include advertising, sales promotions, special offers and public relations. Use only those tools that are suitable for your product, fit within your marketing budget and can be fruitful in reaching your target audience.
Remember, there is a difference between marketing and promotion. Marketing is the big picture of your product, whereas promotion is just one aspect of it.
So, what must you consider before you promote your product?
Understand where your audience is, which can help you narrow what modes to reach them through.
Research on the channels that your audience use the most. Is it social media, email, advertisements?
Study how your competitors plan and promote their products
Apart from these, consider new age promotional techniques such as SEO, google ads, online marketing, influencer marketing, content and email marketing.
Our Two Cents On This Topic…
The 4P’s seem basic, but they essentially hold and maintain the strong foundation of any strong marketing strategy. Therefore, they are important. If you get stuck as another ‘me too’ company, nobody would want you. Therefore, it is important to stand out. You need to stand out and make your mark by resonating and relating with your audience.