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Understanding the Marketing Mix Concept – The Four Ps

What makes a successful marketer? 

One who succeeds in determining the right product and positioning, setting the right price, and using the right method for promoting it.

Unfortunately, these achievements are not an easy feat and require a lot of research and effort to make work. If you aren’t able to achieve even one of the four elements mentioned above, a promising service or product can fail and lead to substantial losses.

This is why the marketing mix concept is important. It takes a product and puts it in front of the right people at the right time, shaping a successful product offering.

What is the Marketing Mix?

Businesses have always used a variety of marketing tools and methods to sell and promote their products. 

However, the marketing mix concept goes as far back as 1948. Professor James Culliton of Harvard University published an article, “The Management of Marketing Costs,” describing marketers as the “mixers of ingredients.”

Later, his colleague, Professor Neil Borden, published a reflective article that was influenced by Culliton’s idea of “mixers,” popularizing the concept of “marketing mix.”

Some of the detailed ingredients of the marketing mix within Borden’s article included: 

  • Product
  • Price
  • Planning
  • Distribution
  • Branding
  • Packaging
  • Promotions

Eventually, these several items were classified as the 4 Ps of marketing

The Purpose of the Marketing Mix

The marketing mix, or “4 Ps,” was developed and formalized over the years by experts to safeguard the creation and execution of an effective and successful marketing strategy. Using this marketing model, both customer and seller should be satisfied and expect a win-win result.

With the marketing mix approach, organizations can make strategic decisions when revising existing products or launching new products.

Characteristics of the Marketing Mix

Co-Dependent Variables

The four unique variables that the marketing mix consists of are interdependent. Thus, the need to be planned in conjunction with each variable ensures that the marketing and action plans within all four are aligned and complementary.

Achieving Marketing Targets

Using the interdependent variables, an organization can achieve its marketing targets such as profits, sales, and customer satisfaction and retention.

Constant Monitoring

The marketing mix is subject to continuous evolution. It is crucial to stay updated on the changing requirements and trends within the market to ensure that the elements used in your marketing mix are updated and relevant.

Flexible Concept

This marketing model is a flexible and fluid concept. If you focus more on a single variable, it can decrease or increase various contributing factors or unique marketing conditions.

Focus on the Customer

A crucial feature of the marketing mix is that customers will always be its focal point. The value of your product and services is determined by your customer perceptions. Also, your main goal is to ensure that your customers are satisfied.

The 4 Ps of Marketing and How They Work

To better understand how to utilize the marketing mix effectively, it’s important to break down what the marketing mix consists of: the 4 Ps of marketing. 

1. Product

Product refers to any item that satisfies the wants and needs of a targeted customer. This can be tangible goods like apparel or appliances, or intangible goods like services or digital products. 

Marketers need to have a clear idea of what their product stands for and what makes them different from the competition.

  • How does your product solve your customer’s problems?
  • What do customers want from your service/product?
  • Does your product/service satisfy their needs?
  • What product/service features or benefits meet your customer’s needs?

2. Price

Price refers to the actual amount that a customer is expected to pay for the product. How the product is priced can affect how it sells. This is connected to what the supposed value of the product is to the customer instead of the objective price of the product offered.

  • What’s the value of the product to the customer?
  • How does it compare to the price of competing products/services?
  • Are there possible established price points for your product?

3. Place

Place refers to how the product will be provided or sold to the customer. This focuses on how your target customers can access your product in the most convenient way possible. You need to pick a location where most of your customers are. Never expect them to come to you; you need to go to them.

  • Where do you target customers shop?
  • Are they shopping for similar products in a physical store or online?
  • Are they using mobile devices or desktops?
  • What social media platforms do they use?

Transactions with your company can take place online or in-store. However, customers are more likely to interact with your products if you showcase them in a variety of places.

4. Promotion

Once you have the right product, the perfect price, and the best spot, how do you raise awareness of your product? Through promotion!

This may include sales emails, digital advertising, content marketing, public relations, special offers or promotions, and drip campaigns. Basically, it’s everything that can help disseminate product awareness to your target customers.

  • How and where will you reach your customers?
  • When is the best time to promote?
  • How does your competition advertise their product?

It’s All About the Process: Crafting an Effective Marketing Mix

Ok, now it’s time to put the wheels in motion. Understanding concepts just gets you up to speed, but actually utilizing this approach requires knowing what actions to take and how to take them. 

1. Define the Unique Selling Proposition

First off, you need to identify the unique selling proposition of your product. What does your product have to offer? Customers need to be intrigued by your offering, thus, you need to clearly determine its key benefits and features and whether they can help ensure sales.

2. Think of Your Customer

Next, you need to understand your consumer and who the ideal buyer is. From here, all other elements of the marketing mix will come together.

  • What are the common characteristics of your customers?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What do they want or need?
  • What’s the value that your product brings to them?

By knowing and understanding your customer, you can ensure that your product is targeted and relevant to them. 

3. Spy on Your Competition

This is a crucial step in implementing your marketing mix approach. By keeping tabs on your competitors, you’ll have a better idea of how to improve your own products and strategies.

  • What’s your competitor’s price point?
  • What discounts and special offers entice their customers?
  • How do they market their products?

4. Determine Placement Options

Evaluating your placement options allows you to understand where your customer is more likely to purchase and the associated costs of using such a channel.

Utilizing several channels can help target a broader customer base and ensure ease of access. However, if the product serves a specific niche, then it makes sense that you concentrate on a particular channel or area.

5. Developing Promotion Strategies

Based on the target customer and established price points, your marketing strategies can now be developed. There are several ways to do so, including social media marketing, email marketing, advertising, and PR strategies.

Regardless of the promotion methods you use, you need to ensure that it reaches and appeals to the intended customers while ensuring that the key benefits and features of the product are highlighted.

6. Cross-Checking All Steps

At this point, you need to take a step back and check how each element planned relates to the other. Remember, variables are interdependent and rely on each other.

  • Is the promotional method aligned with the proposed distribution channels?
  • Do the selling channels reinforce the product’s perceived value?
  • Is the price consistent with what the product offers?

Once you ensure that all elements are in harmony and there are no conflicting messages, then you’re ready for finalizing and launching your product.

Marketing Mix Challenges

With every strategy comes a fair share of obstacles or hurdles to overcome. Here are a few to be on the lookout for when using this approach. 

Less Applicable to Services

The traditional marketing mix is usually applicable to tangible goods. To make it suitable for use with intangible goods or services, certain changes have to be made. 

Here are four additional elements to consider when using the marketing mix approach: 

  • People: Employees delivering the service.
  • Physical Evidence: Proof or reassurance that the service was performed.
  • Process: The methods used to execute and deliver the service.

Lack of Total Focus on Customers

Although a focus on customers and what they want are the objectives of the 4 P model, this is often overlooked by most marketing teams. In order to deal with this problem, the customer-centric 4 Cs classification was developed. 

The 4 C model converts the 4 Ps into a more customer-oriented strategy:

  • Product – Customer Solution
  • Price – Customer Cost
  • Place – Customer Convenience
  • Promotion – Customer Communication

Marketing Mix Example

Let’s take a look at the marketing mix model of one of the most popular fast-food chains in the world—McDonald’s.

The Products

McDonald’s specialty is burgers. However, over the years, it has added a lot of other food offerings to its menu. As a result, it now has a broad range of drinks and food that caters to all kinds of people.

Also, to capture the kids’ market, Mcdonald’s introduced their “Happy Meal” category, consisting of fries and burgers with a little toy hidden in the box. And to cater to non-meat eaters, McDonald also created veggie sandwiches and burgers. 

The Pricing Strategy

McDonald’s utilizes two main pricing strategies:

  1. Psychological Pricing Strategy: Using prices that appear significantly more affordable. For example, instead of $2.00, food items are priced at $1.99.
  2. Bundle Pricing Strategy: Offering meal bundles at a discounted price compared to buying each item separately.

The Place

McDonald’s distributes its products in their physical restaurants, mobile apps for pick-up or delivery, kiosks, and other partner apps.

This variety of offerings supports the vision and mission of Mcdonald’s to serve more customers around the world.

The Promotions

McDonald’s uses several tactics for promoting its products, including television and print advertising, PR, sales promotions, direct marketing, and co-branded partnerships. The result? A profitable digital marketing funnel.

Key Takeaways

By now, you should have a better understanding of how the marketing mix concept works and how it can help you develop a successful marketing strategy.

Always remember that the 4 Ps are constrained by external and internal factors in your overall business environment and that they are always dependent on one another.   

Allan Borch is the founder of Dotcom Dollar. With almost ten years of digital marketing experience, he wants to help entrepreneurs and business owners build and monetize their own successful online businesses. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Youtube.