Despair Setting In
So, you just started your own business but don’t know where to begin with your marketing efforts. Or maybe you’re a recent grad who is barely hanging on by a thread in your new role at a marketing firm. You may feel completely overwhelmed since competition is fierce and everyone else seems to know what they’re doing. But there’s no need to panic, there is one tool to add to your kit that will never let you down: The marketing mix.
Define Your Marketing Mix
If you went to school for business and took an introductory course in marketing, then maybe you remember all about the marketing mix. If you didn’t take business courses or perhaps your selective memory decided to exclude the marketing mix from your conscious, then I have you covered.
The marketing mix refers to a business model in which firms try to place the right product or service at the right price at the right time. More specifically, marketing expert E. Jerome McCarthy’s “4 Ps” from 1960 is incredibly insightful for small and large companies alike. The four Ps refer to product, price, place, and promotion. Accurately determining the 4 Ps will take extensive market research.
The Four Ps of the Marketing Mix
Product (Or Service)
- Expectations and needs of the customer
- Name of the product
- Is it a luxury or necessity?
- Your unique selling proposition and the voice of the customer need to align
- Find out who will buy this product or service
- Supply and demand conditions
- Offer a good value since someone else will
- How much will you charge so that you make a profit?
- Will you use price discrimination to maximize sales?
- Are your consumers price elastic or inelastic?
- Where can it be sold? Physical Stores or E-commerce store? or both?
- Types of distribution: intensive, exclusive, or selective?
- Channel members of the value delivery network (suppliers, distributors)
- Communication with manufacturers and retailers (if necessary)
- Do your own logistics or hire a third party?
- How will you advertise your product/service?
- Managing social media, online ads (PPC), public events, commercials.etc
- Try to generate buzz for your firm and raise brand awareness
- Emphasize differentiation from competition
- Sales promotions are good to capture attention
The four Ps of a marketing mix are a means of simplifying your business plan. Once you become an expert on your target customer, you have the chance to really make an impression on them through promotion. But the marketing mix isn’t necessarily all about marketing to your customers, you also need to maintain mutually beneficial relationships with other channel members as well. Depending on the decisions your firm has made, this may include wholesalers, retailers, distributors, influencers, third party logistic partners, and many more. Without them, the rest just isn’t a possibility. But just make sure you don’t get on the wrong end of an abusive relationship. Learn how to avoid abuse of bargaining power by suppliers
Or is it the Seven Ps of the Marketing Mix?
Starting in 1981, marketers started using three additional “Ps”, also known as the extended Ps. These include people, process, and physical evidence. The extended 7 Ps have proven to be an invaluable addition to the marketing mix since the three additional Ps touch upon more than just pure business talk.
People make up every firm. They are the ones to invent, manufacture, market, and buy products and services. In the marketing mix, people refer to things like customer-employee interaction, uniforms, and customer service. You want to make sure that when customers or prospects come into contact with employees of your company that they have a positive perspective and a gainful experience. No one will go back to a restaurant that had a rude waitress and an ignorant chef. But a restaurant that puts customer concerns on the top of the agenda and have a high regard for conscientiousness will see boomerang customers. Similarly, customer service is sometimes a make or break scenario. With so many alternatives to choose from, a customer will gladly switch teams if they feel like your customer service was unsatisfactory.
In a marketing mix, you must have a definitive clarification of what the customer-company interaction process will entail. There are technological processes such as innovation that allow you to further enhance your offering or software that helps design better newsletters. Then there is electronic marketing processes that include email, advertisements, blogs, social media, etc. With over 4 billion internet users, and that number only rising every second, electronic marketing will only become more relevant than ever as the years proceed. Lastly, you have direct and indirect services that make up a portion of the processes. Seeing how a customer reacts to a purchase in real time is an example of a direct service. In contrast, indirect services involve engaging with costumers before or after a sale. With the aforementioned rapid use of technology in today’s world, companies prefer to use social media and email to hear about customer pain points or praises.
You know when you first see “the one” for you and you just know? Well, I don’t but I know many of you do. Admit it, there was mutual attraction before the L word was ever used. Marketing is eerily similar to the nuances of love. Consumers are very picky, so it is vital that you somehow differentiate yourself from your competitors. One way to do this is with physical evidence. This is easy if you sell products but how do you show physical evidence if your company is service-oriented? For a lot of service companies, this can be done with ambiance, spatial layout, and architecture. Take Disney World for example. With the combination of the Cinderella Castle, various rides, favorite Disney characters, and the background music, it is easy to immerse yourself into this theme park.
Other forms of Physical Evidence
Then there are other service industries where physical evidence isn’t so obvious. For instance, a streaming service such as Netflix has to rely mostly on just their brand. Yes, logos and signage are still considered tangible in the business world. Whereas most people associate Disney with rides, Mickey Mouse, and palm trees, Netflix is remembered by their logo and YouTube engagement. Netflix also sets the tone with their famous “duh.duhuuuuuh” ringing out as soon as you open up their app. The layout of the user interface is also considered physical evidence for the consumer to consider. Just as Fenway Park has baseball lovers coming back for the historical atmosphere, Netflix gets people to come back for the ease of use. So, just because your company doesn’t have a physical building for customers to enter and analyze doesn’t mean you can’t set a mood and allow them to make a physical connection with your brand. But remember, no relationship begins without physical attraction.
Connecting the Dots
Implementing any of the stages of the marketing mix on their own will not lead to anything worthwhile. Instead, you must assess how all the stages are interwoven and work harmoniously with one another. Just as a sweepstakes promotion on Instagram doesn’t work without technological advancement and digital processes, a price point is influenced by distribution costs and prices of competitors. The atmosphere, or physical evidence, of Disney World would not be possible without people dressing up in costumes and servicing the rides. By using the marketing mix, your company possesses a clear layout of its operations and therefore gains some control in business outcomes. Above all, you get to see which areas need to be improved upon and what areas are working well already. As long as you outline a marketing mix, you will always have goals to be working toward.