The Four Ps of Marketing Online (and Beyond!)
Just like your favorite blend of coffee can ensure a good morning, the right marketing mix will ensure success with your target audience. Don’t get the mix right on either of these, and they will leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
What’s included in the marketing mix? The 4 Ps! No, they’re not the latest and greatest pop boy band, but they are the components that will help give your marketing campaign a successful boost. Product, Place, Promotion, and Pricing can all be manipulated to ensure you have a winning strategy for your target market.
This is the starting point! Without figuring out what product you’ll be marketing, you can’t determine any of the other P’s. Ask yourself, “What’s the product that’s being marketed? What are we trying to sell to customers?”
The product includes not only what you are selling but also:
- After-sale service
- Brand name
- Company image
An example of a product would be a Godiva chocolate bar. The package is fancy, there’s a customer satisfaction guarantee for its warranty, it has a recognized brand name, and the company image is prestigious and respected. Therefore, Godiva can charge more than Hershey’s.
It’s important to remember that we buy items not only because of how they benefit us or make us feel, but also because of what they mean to us (status, quality, or reputation). This means that products include tangible objects, like computers and chocolate bars, as well as ideas like those offered by a consultant. They can also be services such as medical care. If it offers customer value, it’s a product!
There’s a series of questions that should be addressed when deciding when and where your customers will purchase your product:
- Who are your potential customers?
- What do they buy?
- Where do they buy?
- When do they buy?
- How do they buy?
There are also a few distribution strategies you can select when looking for the place to sell your item:
- Intensive distribution: maximum market coverage is the goal. The manufacturer tries to have its product available in every outlet where potential customers may buy it. Example: Coca-Cola can be purchased at any grocery store, convenience store, and gas station.
- Selective distribution: dealers and retailers are screened and all but a few are selected in any single area to sell the product. Here the consumer must seek out the product. Manufacturers desire to maintain a “superior product image.” Example: Dolce and Gabbana products are sold at Neiman Marcus and not at Walmart or JCPenney.
- Exclusive distribution: only one or a handful of retailers are selected within a given area to sell a product. Think about high-end luxury cars for this type of strategy. Example: Rolls Royce only has 36 dealerships in the United States that they sell from.
Nothing says that the location you pick initially is where you have to stay and sell your product. Give yourself some testing time, and see which places work and where you find crickets chirping.
This is how marketers inform, persuade, and remind potential buyers of a product. How are you going to bring your product to your customers’ attention? By using the following methods:
- Advertising: any form of impersonal paid communication in which the sponsor or company is identified; television, radio, newspapers, direct mail, billboards, banner ads, blogs
- Public relations: public attitudes regarding an organization are evaluated, and the organization executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance; used to educate the public about the company’s goals and objectives, introduce new products, and help support the sales effort
- Personal selling: paid-for communication between two people in an attempt to accomplish their respective objectives
- Sales promotion: a short-run tool used to stimulate immediate increases in product demand; free samples, contests, premiums, trade shows, vacation giveaways, and coupons
This ‘P’ allows you the flexibility to try things out. Start out big and scale back, or start small and grow your promotional efforts. Remember, though, what works for “Product A” won’t necessarily work for “Product B.” You have to stay flexible and try new things to find the right fit.
Price refers to what your buyer gives up in order to obtain your product.
Consider when determining your product’s price:
- Material costs
- Manufacturing costs
- Competitor pricing
- Product value
- Market conditions
This is the quickest element of the mix to change for marketers, but probably one of the first elements customers are going to notice. Because of this, tread lightly and be careful with too many drastic changes.
A batch of chocolate chip cookies has a different ingredient list than Snickerdoodles, but the basics are there; sugar, flour, vanilla extract, etc.
Your marketing campaigns are much like baking cookies: no two marketing campaigns for different products are going to have the same mix. So it’s important to test, test, test, and then re-test to find that perfect and tasty mix. Good luck!
Have you had to work with the 4 Ps of Marketing before? Which one seems the most difficult? The easiest? Let us know in the comment section!