How many times do we hear the term ‘marketing’ in our daily lives? Quite a lot, right? So, surely, we know exactly what it means…
Well, most probably don’t. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that marketing a brand, product or business is just about advertising. While that is one of the key parts of marketing, it is far from the only part. Let us introduce you to what is known as the ‘Marketing Mix’ or the ‘4 P’s’. These are four key areas in which marketing revolves around, all of which are of equal importance to a business. They are, in essence, a set of controllable variables that a business can manipulate to deliver the most value, and gain the most reward, from their operating activities.
The first ‘P’ comes in the form of the price set by the business, for different aspects of the business. This is important for several reasons: one of which is that it can influence the potential customer’s expectations of a service. For example, setting a price at a premium level can help create a more opulent product persona and image. In the same way, a lower price may give the impression of a value, or budget product.
The two main differentiations for a business are usually cost leadership, setting a low price, to gain more sales volume, or differentiation, setting a higher price for a product that has higher quality. This brings us to the next part of the mix.
This isn’t always just the physical product being sold, but also the entire ‘package’ that is sold to the customers. This could be the service that is sold with physical products, such as cars. Though, the most important part of this is the product itself. What benefits does it bring to the customers? What sets this product above the competitions’? How can it be improved to create a further gap between the company and the competition?
The product keeps the company in the public eye. It is the key driver to a purchase decision. If the product isn’t right, or desirable, a purchase is impossible. So, ensuring that the product is right can make the customers decision much easier.
‘Place’ refers to where the aforementioned ‘product’ is sold or distributed from and to. This can significantly impact the perceptions a customer has about a value proposition. Ikea is the perfect example. By designing their stores in a way which displays products as if they were in a home, customers can be immersed in an experience that resembles their own homes, or how they imagine their homes to be. It is important to remember that the aspirations of your customers are some of the most valuable pieces of intellectual property you can leverage. When you match these, people favour your business, as it aligns with what they aspire to be. Also, Ikea is famous for its one-way, maze-like layout, ensuring customers are taken through the entire store, in an order that, psychologically, should help to increase the likelihood of additional ‘impulse purchases’.
However, as we move further into the digital age, ‘place’ now refers, more than ever, to the distribution channels that a company utilises to fulfil online orders. This includes the efficiency of the ordering process, the website itself, and the speed and quality of delivery. The ultimate goal here is to reduce the number of parties involved in the process, creating an omnichannel customer experience, where a purchase online is an almost identical experience to one in-store.
Fashion brand, Zara, is a perfect example of how this can be done. By using a process called ‘vertical integration’, Zara owns its suppliers. This means that they can get clothes to the shop floor quickly, and also fulfil online orders extremely quickly, even in the event of stock-outs.
Finally, we get to promotion. This is where we see advertising. That may be, increasingly now, digitally, on social media or websites, or more traditional formats, such as television, print and radio. One of the most effective forms of advertising is cinema advertising. Why? Well, where else are people going to look? There is very little ‘noise’, that is, distractions from the advertisement, that have become so prominent in modern society. In essence, promotion is any communication from the company, about the offer.
However, what is crucial to consider here, is what communications are your target audience most receptive to. Demographic profiling and targeting are key. Listen to a sports radio station during the day, and you’ll be inundated with adverts for tools, paints and other trade supplies, playing to the demographics most likely to be listening.
An advanced method of promotion, that is extremely underused, especially by small businesses, is Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), in which all aspects of communications convey the same message. The same phrasing, themes, words, tones, colours, logos etc. This consistent message brings a strong brand identity that people can resonate with. When in doubt, think about what your brand would be like as a person, treat it like a person, who you care for.
That was the four Ps. Spoiler alert, there’s three more! But that’s for another day…