Explaining the Marketing Mix

The 4 P's of marketingThe concept of the marketing mix was first developed by EJ McCarthy over 40 years ago. It was designed to suggest that you should have a balanced mix of marketing activities within your marketing plan.

Holistically you have product or services, priced correctly for your market, at the right location for maximum effect with effective promotional activities to communicate your offerings to your target customers.

Elements of the Mix

These attributes are known as The 4 Ps because those elements named above all begin with the letter "P". As the illustrations shows these are "Product", "Price", "Promotion" and "Place". More recently the 4 Ps became 6 Ps with People and Process integrated into the concept. Here's a run down of what each of these terms means.

Product

Your productThe first P is your product or service derived from researching and satisfying the needs of your customers directly.

When describing your products you should list benefits that your customer receives rather than listings of attributes. This will help structure the other "Ps" especially promotion activities and messaging in all communications material.

Price

PricingThe second P is the price of your product and decisions surrounding overall pricing strategies. Pricing is a complex area to get absolutely right.

Your sales people will want to undercut competitors and have the lowest price because that's easy to sell. This strategy could work in a commodity scenario but unlikely for premium products.

Consumers place more value in their minds for higher priced products where quality is perceived. You can test levels of pricing in different target groups to find the right level of pricing over time. Mix these with the perceived benefits and your pricing strategy should deliver the profits and margins required.

Promotion

Promoting your servicesThe third P is about promoting your products and services. This may include "above the line" brand advertising, specific product offerings through below the line activities, face to face selling, direct marketing and public relations sales channels. The communications aspect of your business is the final element to develop after strategy and analysis.

Place

The placeThe final P is about 'place'. Location, location, location is often mentioned and is as true today as it's always been. If you operate a retail store your location needs to be where customers pass by often. A shop tucked away in a side street will not be found so easily. With the internet there are additional options to explore to get your services in front of new potential customers.

Cate Costa of New Venture Mentor has produced a great video on how to implement the 4Ps for a small business owner. She discusses more general marketing guidance which is worth a watch.

As marketing evolved University Professors also believed there were elements missing. The latest mix now includes people and processes to form "6 Ps".

People

staffing and managementYour staff make things happen in your organisation and it's essential to have the right mix of experience and knowledge to implement your plans. Like all HR strategies, ensure they have clear responsibilities, are trained well in their area and are rewarded for performance achievements. Your management team also plays a key roll in direction and motivation.

Process

process efficiencyISO9001 is all about having processes in place that the company follows. Whether those processes are improving a business is not a concern for this quality indicator. Quality of your final results and consistency however should help set you apart from your competitors. Having processes that work and adhered to makes for an efficient operation.

The 4 Cs

Many now dismiss the four Ps as being out of date and too simplistic and developed the theory further as the 4 Cs.

American Marketer Robert Lauterborn developed these in the 1990s as markets developed and communications advances made it easier to compare products and services.

  • Convenience instead of place
  • Cost instead of price
  • Communications instead of promotion
  • Customer needs instead of product

Perhaps "cost" is listed simply because it begins with the letter "C" whereas price is more apt when dealing with marketing issues.

Although you should take all elements together in any strategy there's no need to use the terminology listed.