As marketers, we know that it’s foolish to underestimate the power of planning. For most of us, that means it’s necessary to create a water-tight marketing strategy. One that has your objectives in place, your target market identified, and the tactics you will practice to achieve your goals.
We all use different blueprints depending on which industry we work in, who our target audience is and the products or services we sell. But there’s one, timeless model that any marketer can utilise regardless of their field of work. That is the marketing mix.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here’s an outline of what the marketing mix is: the marketing mix is typically known as containing four main factors: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. Then we have the extended marketing mix, which encompasses the first four factors, plus an additional three: Physical evidence, People and Processes.
It’s important to note that whilst the marketing mix can direct your strategy and give you a greater understanding of the wider market, as well as your business internally, this is not just a one-stop-shop. The marketing mix is a tactic that works best when it’s implemented regularly or semi-regularly as a structure for planning, executing, evaluating and re-evaluating your marketing activities.
What is the marketing mix?
The marketing mix is a concept that is said to have been developed by professor and academic, Neil H. Borden, who elaborated on James Culliton’s concept of business executives being mixers of ingredients. Ingredients being different marketing features and practices. The marketing mix was later refined by professor and author, Jerome McCarthy, to specifically include four key components: Product, Place, Price and Promotion. McCarthy wrote about the ‘4 Ps’ in the 1960s in his book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.
You might be thinking… the four Ps, they seem to cover the fundamental factors of business and marketing, surely? They certainly cover the fundamentals but, as time went on, things like customer experience and customer service came to the forefront of commerce.
The 4Ps then paved the way for two modern academics, Booms and Bitner, who, in 1981, saw 3 additional factors that serve a great purpose: Physical Evidence, People, Process. This formed the extended marketing mix that we know today as the 7 Ps of the marketing mix.
Once you’re aware of the extended marketing mix, it quickly becomes apparent that the 3 elements that form the extended framework really make a difference. People are at the heart of every business. Without people, you have no one to market to; no one there to buy your product or make use of your services. It’s a no-brainer, right?
Define The 7Ps of The Marketing Mix
Now that you know what the 7Ps of the marketing mix are and their origins, let’s dive a little deeper into the definition of each aspect.
Product refers to anything that’s being sold - a physical product, service or experience.
No matter how you position yourself as a brand, your product or service is always going to be at the centre of your strategy and therefore it will influence every aspect of the marketing mix. When you think of your product, consider factors such as its quality, specific features, packaging and the problem that it will solve for your customers.
Whilst things like customer service are key, your product, i.e. what the customer gets, is ultimately what they will care about most. Of course, if your buyer is not satisfied with what you’re selling, they won’t return to you. But if the quality is right and it solves their problem, the product will sell itself.
Over 30,000 consumer products are launched yearly. Out of these 30,000 new products, 95% of them fail woefully without having any significant impact on the market.
Where are you selling your product or service? There are many places and ways that businesses can sell. So ‘place’ doesn’t just refer to a physical location. It could mean selling via a website, catalogue, social media, utilising trade shows and, of course, brick and mortar stores. 49% of the Americans prefer to shop at brick-and-mortar stores. The number one reason (56%) why consumers shop in-store is the ability to feel and try the products.
‘Place’ encompasses each and every distribution channel. Most companies can’t, or don’t, set up shop just anywhere. There are a number of factors that need to be considered first. Your target audience will play a part when it comes to your distribution channels. For example, there’s no use in selling via a single high-street store if your target audience mostly resides online or if you want to sell globally. Testing is always a good idea - would an eCommerce site work better than a physical pop-up store? Perhaps a mix of both would be appropriate for your business.
You need to gain a clear understanding of your target audience if you are to establish the most appropriate place to reach customers and make a profit. In order to consistently make a profit, you need to reside and distribute in the places that are both appropriate for your brand and accessible for your audience.
How much does your product or service cost? Everyone has their price and if you target a specific audience but get the pricing structure wrong for this particular set of buyers, you can forget about getting a desirable ROI.
Bain & Company research established that 18% of companies have no internal capabilities and processes for their pricing decisions. The price you set should reflect your customer’s perceived value of your product, correlate with your budget, and be set in a way that ensures you turn a profit. Pricing has a huge impact on the success of your business and it can impact your marketing strategy, sales and product demand. There are many different pricing strategies used by businesses today, they all have different benefits, drawbacks and functions. And the one that you choose to implement will depend on what you’re selling as well as your brand image itself.
6 common pricing strategies:
- Price skimming: setting a high price for your product and then gradually reducing the price over time.
- Competition-based pricing: evaluating the prices set by market competitors and placing your price either slightly higher or lower than the competition.
- Economy pricing: setting prices that target buyers who seek a low price or bargain.
- Premium pricing: setting a high price tag on your items. This strategy requires ensuring that the product or service itself is of high quality before you give it a ‘luxury’ label.
- Value-based pricing: setting a price based on what a customer is willing to pay - what they believe your brand and your product is worth.
- Cost-plus pricing: this method is solely based on what the cost of producing your product is and then adding a markup so that you aren’t selling at a loss.
Whatever your pricing strategy is, ensure that it’s in line with your brand, it’s a price that your customers are willing to pay and that you can make a profit. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the wider market, the economy and, of course, your competitors.
Promotion. That’s what we’re all about. Whether it’s direct marketing, PR, advertising, content marketing or in-store pitching, promotion is what we, as marketers, do best.
Promotion means raising awareness of a brand, product or service within a market; telling a story to encourage consumer engagement. Promotional strategies work on multiple levels. They raise brand awareness, increase sales and generate revenue. Why should someone purchase from you over your competitor? How will you solve their problem or enhance their life?
You need to answer questions like these:
Where is your audience able to find you? Online or in a physical store?
Does the time of year affect your business? If you only sell swimwear or, in contrast, you only sell Christmas decorations you need to take this into account when developing your strategy.
What is your brand personality? The type of identity you have will inform your promotional messaging and design. Do you portray yourself as down to earth, professional, playful, sincere, exciting?
How do your competitors promote themselves? Analysing the promotional strategies of your competitors, or wider market trends will help to inform your own strategies. Consider regularly conducting a SWOT analysis so you can really take a deep dive into your own tactics and the market competition.
Common promotional strategies, for marketers, come under two categories. Traditional and digital. Traditional marketing refers to print media, broadcasting, direct mail, billboards and posters, and referral, i.e. word of mouth. Digital methods mean email marketing, social media promotion, content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), mobile marketing and paid advertising. Digital marketing generates 50% more interactions with customers than traditional marketing.
The way that you choose to communicate with your audience and promote your offerings will have a direct impact on the success of your brand. Post a message in the wrong place, at the wrong time, or to the wrong person and your sales will likely be negatively affected.
You can get to know your audience and understand their requirements through clever market segmentation and targeting. And you can cater to their needs by integrating your marketing data and creating seamless omnichannel campaigns.
5. Physical Evidence
The marketing mix must take into consideration everything that your customer experiences along their journey with you - from the very beginning when they’re just becoming aware of your brand, up to the point of sale and beyond.
Physical evidence means more than just proof of purchase. Whilst it does include this important aspect, physical evidence also encompasses the overall existence of your brand. Think website, branding, social media, the logo on your building, your store’s decor, the packaging of your products and the post-purchase thank you email. All of these elements offer your customer the physical evidence they need to be certain that your business is viable, reliable and legitimate.
There are a multitude of scams, fake companies and untrustworthy businesses both online and in the physical world. For consumers to truly be comfortable with you, to complete a purchase, remain loyal and advocate for your brand, they need to be confident that you’re legitimate and worth their time.
If you're looking to reinvigorate your branding, make sure to check out these branding trends for 2022.
To create a well-crafted strategy that ensures you offer great customer support, be sure to deliver products and receipts efficiently and reliably, and provide a customer experience that is seamless across each and every touchpoint.
People, in the marketing mix, refers to anyone directly or indirectly involved in the business side of the enterprise. That means anyone involved in selling a product or service, designing it, marketing, managing teams, representing customers, recruiting and training.
It’s critical to the success of your brand, and the satisfaction of your customers, that everyone who represents the company (including the chatbots) is polite, professional, knowledgeable and fully trained. Employees need to be able to solve the problems that customers have so, as a business, you need to offer training, good working environments and anything that will safeguard the contentment of your employees.
58% of American consumers will switch companies because of poor customer service. (Microsoft). Excellent customer service is a must for any brand operating in today’s customer-centric market. Digital strategist, Dave Chaffey, says that people buy from people - because of the human connection that we all typically crave. This doesn’t necessarily mean that people are inclined to purchase in-store from a physically present human. When marketers create a strategy that’s highly tailored and personalised, campaigns that are human experience-focused can be as influential as the best, most persuasive salesperson.
Be sure to maintain a positive brand reputation by addressing and resolving customer complaints, rather than just ignoring them. This will support your recovery and, if handled correctly, help you to avoid any future damage to your brand reputation.
Employing and retaining the right people is key for both long and short term success.
So you have a product and you have your target audience. How do you deliver the product to the customer? This in-between aspect can be called the process.
It involves how your business runs, how the service is delivered, how the product is packaged, how your customers move down the sales funnel, checkout, shipping, delivery, etc. Essentially the process describes the series of actions or the fundamental elements that are involved in delivering the product or service to the customer.
The more seamless and personalised your processes are, the happier your customers will be. If you have a product that’s of good quality, chances are you won’t hear any complaints. But there are so many different pieces of the process puzzle that you have to consider in your marketing strategy. So if you’re going to experience complaints, it will likely be at this point. Customers typically feel frustrated or dissatisfied by late shipping, additional costs, poor communication or a lack of support.
You can minimise complaints and optimise your process by keeping an eye on online reviews. If customers complain then you know it’s time to reevaluate and reconfigure your processes. Word of mouth, especially in the digital world, has the power to make or break a brand. So every part of the buyer’s journey has to be seamless and efficient.
Of course, you need to plan your processes in a way that minimises the costs on your part, whilst also maximising the benefits and value for your customer.
Regularly assessing, adjusting and adapting your processes will help to structure your business efforts so that you can function at optimal efficiency.
With the right set of guidelines, marketers are able to strategise and develop campaigns that work towards gaining and retaining highly valuable customers. The 7Ps of the marketing mix can act as a well-structured checklist for marketers who aim to create an effective strategy that achieves their goals and evolves the business to the fullest extent.
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