Online Marketing & Digital Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to the Marketing Mix and the 4Ps of Marketing

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By Laia Cardona, on 25 May 2023

The definition of the marketing mix is all the steps that a company takes in order to promote its product or service. These are often divided into the 4Ps of marketing, which are known as Product (or Service), Place, Price and Promotion. But what is it exactly that we need to ask ourselves to define and truly understand each of these points?

Some examples of these questions are the needs that our product solves or the benefits it offers, where our clients can obtain it and how we can access distribution points, what the manufacturing costs and profit margins are and should be, and what advertising formats can be used to make the message reach the right audience.

Let's take a closer look.

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What are the 4Ps and what questions should I be asking?

The marketing mix is a concept that's used to talk about all the decisions and actions that brands make to launch a product or service. There are different ways of classifying these decisions.

The 4Ps are probably the most well known and useful, but there are also models such as the 7 Ps (a broader version of the 4Ps) and even the 4Cs (from the consumer’s point of view).

The 4Ps of marketing can be summed up as putting the right product in the right place at the right time and at a fair price. This may seem simple but, in reality, a lot of work has to go into this. It's crucial to research the market to see where exactly your product or service can fit, and then develop a marketing strategy based on the information you have compiled.

Although the 4Ps are not new (they were mentioned for the first time by E. J. McCarthy in the 60s), they continue to be one of the most useful classifications to quickly address each of the key points in a marketing strategy.

Each of the 4Ps has several aspects that need to be considered, so you may feel slightly overwhelmed when it comes to actually making decisions. To make your job a little easier, we’ve also created a list of questions for each aspect that you should ask yourself when defining your 4P strategy.

1. Product (or Service)

The first of the 4Ps refers to the product (or service), which is at the heart of the marketing strategy. From a modern marketing point of view, it is preferable to define the product based on the needs and motivations of the client and the benefits the product brings them, rather than its characteristics or features.

Within this P, you should define the products your brand has to offer, what their life cycles are and how they can be differentiated from the competition’s products. The image, the branding, the packaging, and the post-sale services also come into play here.

Questions to Ask About a Product or Service

  • What do the consumers of my product/service want?
  • What are the benefits it offers?
  • What needs does it satisfy?
  • Are there other ways to satisfy the same needs? If so, what advantages and disadvantages does mine have in comparison?
  • What are the characteristics of the product/service? Is there anything missing that could make it better? Am I including anything that is costly but does not add enough value?
  • How and where is my product going to be used? Are there different usage scenarios?
  • What does it look like? Are there different sizes, colors, etc.?
  • How does it complement other products or services, either from my company or others?
  • What must the consumer’s experience be like when using it?
  • What is it called?
  • What differentiates it from the competition?

2. Place

The second of the 4Ps is all about defining and managing the channels through which a product reaches consumers. The strategic sales points can range from ecommerce, to a regional store, to a chain with physical stores in several countries.

The goal of the distribution strategy is to both make it easy for consumers to access to the product optimize the sales process by providing a smooth shopping experience. To do this, it's important to consider decisions relating to storage, inventory management, transportation, sales point locations, online and offline requests, etc.

Questions About Sales and Distribution

  • Where do clients get my product/service? Specialized stores? supermarkets? online?
  • How can I access the appropriate distribution channels?
  • Do I need a sales force? Should I be attending events in my industry? Should I send samples to companies? Should I contact with online retailers? Should I launch my own online store?
  • What is my competition doing and how can I learn from them or differentiate myself from them?

3. Price

The third of the 4Ps refers to the final price of your product or service. This is one of the most complex marketing decisions, as a series of factors are at play.

  • The product’s manufacturing costs
  • The commercial revenue you expect to receive
  • The company’s economic goals
  • The demand for your product or service
  • Your competitor’s prices
  • The consumers’ purchasing power
  • Trends and preferences
  • The positioning of the product. It can be beneficial to increase the price to give the impression of better quality

When it comes time to choose the price, you should keep things such as payment methods, discounts, and loyalty programs in mind.

Questions About the Price

  • What is the manufacturing cost of my product/service?
  • What profit margin do I need?
  • What value does my product/service hold for the consumer?
  • What are the average prices of products/services similar to mine?
  • How sensitive is my client to pricing? Is it possible that a small decrease in price might attract many more clients or that a small increase would go unnoticed?
  • Can I offer discounts and promotions in certain seasons or to certain types of clients?

4. Promotion

Now we've come to the fourth P, which stands for promotion. Promotion refers to all the actions taken to communicate the benefits of your products and services in order to increase sales. This includes everything from advertising and public relations to social ads and direct marketing.

As traditional as your product or service may be, you need to keep up with trends and with the latest marketing technologies. In today’s day and age, digital marketing has a huge influence, so make the most of it.

Questions About Promotion

  • How can I make my message reach the right audience?
  • Which of the following are more appropriate for me: banners ads, search engine marketing, social ads, radio, press, TV, billboards, direct marketing, email marketing, etc.
  • When is the best time to promote? Does my product or service depend on seasons?
  • What are my competitors doing and how should that influence my decisions?
  • What KPIs am I going to use to measure the results of my promotional efforts?

Using the 4Ps of Marketing

Whether you are looking to launch a new product or service, or refining your current marketing strategy, the 4Ps have a lot to offer. This step-by-step plan should help you make the absolute most of this classic marketing formula.

  1. Identify the product or service you need to analyze.

  2. Answer the questions listed above and base your answers on objective facts. If you have and questions or feel you don’t have the necessary information, its time to invest it a good old market study.

  3. Once you have defined your marketing mix through these questions, its also a good idea to take a look from the consumer’s point of view.

    1. Does the product/service satisfy their needs?

    2. Will they find it at the sales points they frequent?

    3. Will they find the price to be reflective of the value that the product or service brings?

    4. Will they be receptive to the messages that will motivate them to buy it?

  4. Create hypotheticals by challenging your answers with “why” and “what would happen if…?”. For example, “what would happen if I increased the price by 5%?” “What if I begin selling more sizes?” “Would having my own ecommerce be beneficial?” “What happens if I move 25% of my investment in Meta Ads to X (or Twitter) Ads?”.

  5. Now put your hypothetical cases from the last point into action, measure the results, and incorporate any necessary changes! Lastly, don’t forget to perform regular check-ups on your strategy because the market is constantly changing, quicker and quicker everyday!

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Laia Cardona