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The 4 Ps of Marketing: What They Are And How To Use Them

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The 4 Ps of Marketing:  Why It Matters

Understanding how to use the 4 Ps of marketing is an essential skill that every business-minded individual should have. Think of it like the phrase “Mind your Ps and Qs”. Just like mixing up your “Ps” and “Qs” can ruin the structure of a sentence, neglecting the 4 Ps of marketing can derail your business venture.

They are tools used by consulting firms and business owners worldwide to connect with consumers. Below, we discuss why the 4 Ps should be an integral part of your marketing mix strategy.

4 Ps vs. Marketing Mix

Frequently, the marketing mix is another term used to describe the 4Ps of marketing. However, these two tools are not the same. Simply put, the marketing mix is a broad term that describes all of your choices when you’re preparing to bring a service or product to consumers, including setting product pricing and placement or location. So while the 4Ps are certainly part of the marketing mix, the original concept was a bit broader.

The phrase “marketing mix” was crafted by Neil Borden, who had a mind for sales and product promotion. Borden first began using the phrase in 1949. It became a staple of marketing lectures across the nation. However, the marketing mix concept remained relatively unchanged for the next decade until another great marketing mind got ahold of it.

J. McCarthy, a famous marketing professor, first coined the phrase “4Ps of marketing” in his 1960 book “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.” He is widely considered one of the best minds that the marketing world has ever seen. His book has transcended the shift towards a digital marketplace and remains incredibly relevant today.

Today, the 4 Ps of marketing continue to serve as the essential framework for the marketing mix. They are tools that entrepreneurs have used throughout the world. Despite the massive innovations across the sales and service industries, the 4Ps have stood the test of time. As a result, navigating the 4Ps is an essential skill that a consulting firm or sales team can develop.

The Four Ps of Marketing

Now that we have a better grasp of the origin of these invaluable marketing mix tools let’s look at what the Four Ps are and how they can benefit your company. The 4 Ps of marketing are price, promotion, product, and placement (location).

1. Price

price illustrationThe price of your product is one of the most critical parts of the marketing mix. However, setting the right price point can be a challenge. You must use several other marketing tools to ensure that your product price is appropriate. 

When determining the price of your product or service, you must first assess the cost of supplies. Another way of determining the cost is looking at the cost of the goods you’ve sold, knows as “cost of goods sold” or COGS. Your company should examine competitor pricing and also leave room for seasonal discounts or annual sales. You should also seek to determine what your product is worth in the minds of consumers.

It is essential to set your pricing right the first time. While it is possible to lower prices later, consumers have little tolerance for post-release price increases. In their minds, a sudden spike in pricing can seem like a greedy or a profit-grabbing tactic.

When you’re considering what price to list your product at, make sure to do your research. Improper pricing will throw off the balance of your marketing mix. 

In addition to the factors listed above, pricing is an essential marketing tool for the following reasons.

Price Can Be Flexible

Price is by far the most flexible of the marketing mix tools. Remember, a huge aspect of marketing is to look at things from your consumer’s point of view:

      • Does your target customer believe that your service is worth purchasing? 
      • Will they see your offer as a good deal? 

The prices of your products can be adjusted quickly, especially when compared to the “sticky” nature of the other four Ps of marketing. For instance, it would take months to substantially alter product design or how you distribute your goods to sales locations.

If your manufacturing or shipping costs suddenly drop drastically, then you could reduce the price of your product to improve sales. It is better to price too high than too low.

Price Will Drastically Impact Sales

No matter how impressive your marketing skills may be, it is impossible to overcome poor pricing. If your product is overvalued in consumers’ minds, they will not want to buy your goods. That is why the marketing mix is such an invaluable tool for businesses.

Before you set your pricing, make sure to conduct substantial market research. You should also analyze your competitors’ sales tactics and production costs, along with the current market conditions. Remember, pricing may vary by location. Account for delivery costs and local taxes during your research.  

As noted above, consumers usually respond poorly to post-release price increases. However, extremely high prices will result in a per-item profit increase but fewer overall sales. Therefore, you must strike a good balance on your pricing to avoid increasing your prices soon. When appropriately used, pricing is one of the best marketing tools at your disposal.

Price Impacts Consumer Perception

If you want to utilize the 4 Ps effectively, you must peer into customers’ minds. This is especially true when it comes to setting the price of your products or services.

No matter what product you are selling, the consumer will almost always notice the price first. They may make their final decision on several other factors, such as how beneficial your product is. Consumers may also compare your product’s price point to that of your competitors. However, a price that is way off base will turn consumers away quicker than just about anything else.

For example, let’s say that your company sells power tools. Your business has just released a new model of battery-powered drill priced at $150. If the average price for these tools is only around $99, then many consumers may be turned away, which can occur even if your product is far superior to others on the market.

Unfortunately, you may never get a second chance to make an excellent first impression with that consumer. However, setting the right price while also marketing a superior product can make consumers feel like they are getting a deal.

Price Will Influence Promotional Efforts

Like many other businesses, your company probably plans to engage in a few promotional sales events throughout the year. However, if you want to leverage this opportunity to boost sales, you must adequately price your product.

When you’re conducting market research and contemplating a price point, make sure to build in reasonable margins. Reducing your service or product price by even 5% during a semi-annual sale can drastically increase sales. However, your base pricing must have enough built-in flexibility to facilitate such an event.

You may want to set pricing based on the most expensive locations that you target so that promotions can be offered nationwide.

Remember, don’t fluctuate prices too frequently. The appeal of sales is that they create a sense of urgency in the mind of consumers. If your product goes on sale every other month, consumers will eventually catch on and just wait you out. On the other hand, do not limit the number of sales tools at your disposal by setting a poor price point for your product.

2. Promotion

promotion illustrationThe next of our 4 Ps is “promotion,” which deals with advertising campaigns, engaging with consumers, and digital advertising. When it comes to promoting your product, there is no shortage of tools at your disposal.

One of the most critical tools is marketing research. It allows you to get into the minds of consumers and see what they want out of a product. Be sure to conduct market research at different locations. Gathering information from an isolated area or with a small sample size will skew the results and hinder the effectiveness of your study.

As you can see, good promotion is integral to your company’s marketing mix.

When planning out this phase of your marketing strategy, your focus should be on generating interest. You want to get consumers excited about your product or services. Make sure to highlight how your product can teach them new skills, make their life easier, or fill a need in their daily routine.

Due to the shift towards eCommerce in recent years, many consulting firms and marketing agencies tend to combine promotion and placement because most services and products are promoted and “placed” in the same location:  On the internet.

The most effective SEO marketing strategies incorporate social media and internet-based promotions. When using these two tools in conjunction with one another, the results can be astounding. 

The following tools represent some great promotional ideas that have a proven track record of success.

Contests

Want to increase engagement on your company’s social pages? If so, then contests and sweepstakes are some of the best tools at your disposal.

No matter what service or product you offer, few things create as much buzz as a contest. In the consumer’s mind, they are getting a free product. However, you are also getting low-cost advertising. It’s a true win-win.

When creating your contest, use entry requirements. Be sure to specify who is eligible for the contest, including any location or age-based restrictions.

For instance, you can require that consumers like your post, subscribe to your page, and tag three friends to enter, which can drastically boost your social media following in a few days. Having a solid social media following is essential if you want to build your brand. This tactic will also get the word out about your product and can lead to long-term sales increases.

You can also create contests that invite consumers to showcase their skills and abilities. For example, consider hosting a weight loss challenge if you make products in the health and fitness category. Offer the winner three months of free supplements or a cash prize.

No matter what you offer, just get consumers involved. They will be grateful for the opportunity to show off their skills. Potential customers will also be thrilled at the idea of winning money or some free products, not to mention creating great reviews online, which helps with your SEO too. 

Rebates

Rebates are another effective marketing strategy. Instead of offering upfront discounts, promote your product with rebates. In the consumer’s mind, they will still be saving money. Rebates are an effective strategy for businesses with a physical location, but they can also be helpful for those that only have eCommerce sales.

One of the most popular ways to implement rebates is to send consumers prepaid gift cards. The value of each gift card should correspond with your product’s overall pricing. For example, a product priced at $100 might include a $5 gift card, whereas a product that costs several hundred dollars or more should include a more lucrative gift card offer.

You can also throw in a promo code if you want to up the ante. For example, you might like to offer first-time customers a $5 gift card when purchasing a predetermined amount. Follow this up with an email that includes a promo code for free shipping on their next purchase, which will encourage the consumer to use their newly earned gift card to buy more of your products.

Rebates should be included in the many other marketing tools that your team uses to sell your product. While rebates may not be suitable for every situation, they can be highly effective when used correctly. Whether you offer a service that teaches consumers new skills or manufacture products that serve as an upgrade over an existing offering, rebates can be a great asset to your marketing strategy.

Tracking

The biggest question about funding promotions is if the ROI (return on investment) is worth the costs. The great thing about promotions is that contents run for a specific amount of time, and you can correlate the increase in online traffic or the number of people completing the desired outcome. In addition, when using rebates or coupon codes, your finance team can track how many completed sales used the rebates or codes. Being able to provide hard numbers to show if a promotion was successful or not helps you with future business decisions. 

3. Product

product illustrationEvery excellent marketing mix strategy begins and ends with a good product or service. The best products will fill a real or perceived void in the minds of consumers. Marketing teams with excellent advertising skills can make consumers feel like they “need” your product, even if it just makes their lives more convenient. After all, the foundation of marketing is providing value to the customer. 

Design

Getting into the consumer’s mind is vital if you want to design a product or service successfully. So when you’re planning your product, ask yourself:

      • Will it be viewed as a run-of-the-mill item?
      • Is the category jam-packed?
      • Why was the product developed in the first place?
      • What need are you fulfilling?
      • Is it a luxury or a necessity?
      • How will the consumer receive it?

Development

After knowing what the product will look like and its function, the next step is to understand how to create the product, where the “rubber hits the road.” Finally, a plan includes knowing exactly where the materials come from, where assembly occurs, and how the customer will physically or digitally receive the product. 

Next, product testing allows your target audience to “try out” your creation. Gather feedback and apply this knowledge to your product development. If possible, engage in product testing at multiple locations. Your goal is to collect a broad spectrum of meaningful feedback from focus groups. Not only does this help improve your product, but it is also valuable data if looking to involve investors in your venture. 

4. Placement

placement illustrationThe last of the 4 Ps is placement. Just think of the well-known phrase “location location location.” A great example of the importance of placement is a billboard. Of course, you can have the best-looking, most engaging billboard ever created. However, if placed in the middle of the Amazon rain forest, the chances are high that no one in your target audience will see it let alone take action. So here are some questions to assist you in the art of deciding how and where you will sell your product:

    • Will you only offer your service via eCommerce sites? 
    • Are you going to engage in traditional marketing campaigns? 
    • Do you need to partner with a brick-and-mortar distributor to optimize sales potential? 
    • Do you have the capability to distribute your product to multiple physical locations?

All of these are essential questions that require answers during the placement planning phase. This will give you invaluable insight into the minds of consumers.

Target Audience

You should use marketing and placement tools to get your product or service in front of consumers that are likely to purchase it.

For instance, if your product purports to teach users web-design skills, then brick-and-mortar sales are not very practical. Instead, you should “place” your product on the digital marketplace via social media and search engine advertising.

Also, take note of your shopping habits. It may be a big surprise to you not only how you think and shop but how others do. For example, most people in a supermarket will purchase items at eye level, so store owners charge a premium for shelves that are the standard adult eye level for the region. Ever wonder why the children’s isles have shorter shelves closer to the ground? It’s so kids can browse and suggest purchases to their parents. 

Shopping Trends

Another aspect of placement is for your company to stay agile. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s adaptable companies profited, and other companies unwilling to change suffered. For example, with everyone staying at home, the value of online information skyrocketed, and businesses quickly realized that their website needed to be updated, optimized, and in front of their target audience. In fact, online spending represented over 21% of total retail sales in 2020. However, websites with missing information and not tailored to their target market meant their offering wasn’t seen, which is the entire purpose of placement.

Like all of the other 4 Ps, proper produce placement is an essential part of your marketing mix. If you can get a well-designed, properly priced product in front of consumers, then it will likely perform up to expectations.

How to Apply the 4 Ps to Your Website

icons showing steps involved in website planning with 4 Ps of marketing

There are several ways that you can “mind” the 4 Ps and improve your company’s marketing mix. The following are some of the scenarios in which you should implement them into your company’s business model.

Planning a New Venture

In terms of marketing tools for a new business, few things are more effective than the 4 Ps. By using this step-by-step approach, you can leverage the skills of your employees and develop a strong marketing mix.

Setting a strong price point and identifying which void your service fills are essential parts of successful marketing. Once you have addressed these two aspects, you can turn your attention to promotional tools and product placement. 

Make sure to do your research if you want to achieve sustained success with your new venture. You may even want to consider partnering with a professional SEO consulting firm.

Evaluating an Existing Proposal

The four Ps of marketing are extremely versatile business tools. They are not only beneficial when you’re launching a new venture — they apply to any current offers.

When your marketing team submits a proposal, measure it against the 4 Ps. Doing so will allow you to determine whether the proposal is a good fit with your target consumers.

Do not be afraid to alter your current price point, change the placement strategies, or hire a consulting firm. Professional marketing teams have the skills necessary to help you get the most out of your product. In addition, they can look at your product from a unique, unbiased perspective, which can significantly impact its long-term success.

While making last-minute changes may cost you extra resources on the front end, it will improve the overall performance of your product. In addition, making changes pre-market is far more cost-effective than attempting a relaunch.

Optimizing Sales with Your Core Audience

The 4 Ps of marketing can be applied to an existing product, as well. Something as simple as altering your product placement can have a lasting impact on your brand.

Transversely, a well-marketed product that optimizes both placement/location and promotion will still not perform well if the pricing is off. So make sure that you leverage the skills of your sales team and reinforce the importance of using the four Ps of marketing.

Improve Your Marketing Mix with Firetoss

Are you ready to optimize your use of the 4 Ps? Do you need help improving your marketing mix? Looking for someone with the skills necessary to elevate your brand? Ready to take your company to the next level by partnering with an experienced consulting team?

If you are, then you need to reach out to our SEO experts at Firetoss. We use the latest marketing tools to maximize your company’s ability to move products. In addition, our experts have the skills necessary to lignite your brand online. Contact us to learn more about how Firetoss can help you with your online marketing mix today!

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