Sometimes, tried and true methods are what get the best results. If your latest marketing efforts haven’t been as successful as you hoped, you may need to go back to basics. Perhaps customers aren’t buying your new product, or maybe you’re having difficulty getting your business noticed. With any challenges you’re facing in your marketing plan, it may be time to take a look at the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
If just one of the 4 Ps of marketing is off, it can throw a wrench in your entire marketing strategy. For example, a bad price can lead to failure, even if your product, place, and promotion are absolutely perfect.
In this article, learn how to master the 4 Ps, drive more impact and success in your business, and find the sweet spot that will take your company to the next level.
What Are the 4 Ps of Marketing?
The 4 Ps of marketing consist of price, promotion, place, and product in any order. Together, they make up what is often referred to as the marketing mix. While marketing has been around for a long time, references to the 4 Ps date back to the 1950s and a man named Neil Borden. Borden wrote about the importance of the marketing mix, including his highly influential 1964 paper, “The Concept of the Marketing Mix.”
As often happens with concepts that reflect the truth, the idea behind the marketing mix grew in popularity as more businesses put it into practice. More people added to and refined the concept as they discussed price, promotion, place, product, and the ways in which they affect each other. Even so, Michigan State University marketing professor E. Jerome McCarthy was the one to popularize the 4 Ps as a term often used in the marketing industry. Through his writings, McCarthy helped spread the usefulness of the 4 Ps, leading to even more adoption of the marketing mix from companies.
The 4 Ps of marketing have stood the test of time. Here’s a quick rundown of what they entail:
- Product: The item you offer to your customers. It can also be a specific service.
- Price: The amount that you ask your customers to pay in order to receive the product.
- Place: The location where you promote what you sell. This can be a physical location or a digital one (in the case of digital marketing).
- Promotion: The strategy you use to get the word out about your product or service. This can be a very broad marketing strategy or a narrowly-tailored one.
Understanding Each Aspect of the Four Ps of Marketing
Getting started with the marketing mix can sometimes feel like a complicated challenge, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The following is a detailed outline for each topic so you can be equipped with the knowledge you need to nail down these basic marketing concepts and help your business grow.
Your product is the specific thing you’re selling to the customer. Whether it’s as simple as a pencil or as complex and expensive as an automobile, your product is what brings in the revenue. Not just any product is guaranteed to sell. The more defined your product is, the easier it will be to promote. This is especially true when it comes to services because many companies fall into the trap of explaining their services in vague terms.
Your product should also have a specific target audience that will want to buy it. Products and services should have unique features that help to solve real problems customers come across in their lives.
You can see a good example of a product in Ancient Nutrition’s collagen protein. The product page defines exactly what this product is and how it helps people. For instance, some of the solutions the product provides include a reduction in knee stiffness, healthier hair and skin, and a reduction in joint discomfort. Customers looking for solutions to these problems will be more likely to buy it. As part of its product differentiation strategy, the product includes ways to maximize its use and evidence-based factors that show how well it works.
Common Product Problems
- Failure to properly define a product or service
- No real value or purpose
- Lack of quality
- Too many similarities to other products
- Poor packaging that looks cheap and isn’t alluring
How to Overcome Them
As you create products to sell to the public, you can’t just come up with any old thing and expect it to do well. Instead, you need to really sit down and strategize on what your product is. Leave no detail uncovered. Figure out who it serves, what kind of product it is not, who it’s competing against, and more. These are all factors that you should consider as part of the marketing mix. Ultimately, it comes down to knowing your product and target audience front and back.
Part of this effort should focus on the vision and mission of your business. How does the product fit into those aspects? If it fits, determining what the product is becomes that much easier. At the same time, you should set up a quality control process to ensure your product stays high-quality.
Also, make sure you have a unique selling proposition (USP). Your product or service might be similar to another company’s, but if you have the right USP, you can highlight the clear differences.
How your marketing product is presented matters, too. Hire a design team to come up with the right look and feel. This will get eyes on your product, leading to more buyers.
The product price is one of the most vital pieces of information consumers consider when deciding whether to purchase an item. The price of a product should reflect the value of that product, including how in-demand it is as well as the cost it takes to manufacture it. Companies will often change prices in order to spur demand. Generally speaking, lowering a price will increase demand, while raising it will lead to a decreased demand. Some companies may choose to lower the price temporarily in order to get more people to try the product. This is why you often see special sales and discounts at certain times of the year.
Prices are how you communicate value. A 16-ounce can of Coca-Cola, for example, costs around a little more than a buck, while a Tesla Model 3 can cost as much as $75,000. If people are willing to pay the listed price, then you’ve likely hit the sweet spot between supply and demand. That could indicate you have the marketing mix for your product down.
Common Price Problems
- The price is too low, meaning you’re losing money with every purchase
- The price is too high, meaning not enough people are willing to pay for it
- Market demand isn’t high enough
- Other brands offer a similar product at a much lower price than yours
- Profit margins are too low
How to Overcome Them
If you need to get a handle on your pricing, do a bit of research first. Take a look at what your competitors are charging for their products and services. Is there a discrepancy? That might indicate you’re not offering the best price. Determine what price will pull in the majority of buyers in your target audience. Temporary discounts can work, but only if you keep them temporary. The main question to ask is, can you profit from the price? If you only have one product that you offer, you got to get it right.
More expensive items will require a different approach. For any item more than $200, you may want to consider multiple smaller payments. This allows customers to afford the price over a longer period of time.
The key here is to calculate the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer. A one-time use product, such as a mattress, may provide good revenue at first, but it’s not sustainable. Instead, you need to have multiple products that provide significant LTV. Those products should connect to each other. As prices fluctuate, you can be sure to break even as you create dedicated and loyal customers.
As part of the marketing mix, place indicates where you distribute and sell your product or service. The aim is to pick the places where core customers will see it and want to buy it. A grocery store, for example, would be the ideal location when selling cereal. Place can also get specific, such as the individual shelf within a grocery store.
As more people turn to online shopping, the digital space has also transformed into an ideal location for selling products. Think of websites like Amazon where millions of companies, both large and small, can get their products in front of people to buy. Social media is another place that has become popular over recent years. As long as you’re putting your product in a place where your customers are more likely to buy it, you should be in good hands.
Common Place Problems
- The product is being sold on the wrong platforms
- There’s no strategy to where you’re selling the product
- Only selling at physical locations when digital ones would be more cost-effective
How to Overcome Them
The solutions to these problems rest with your customers. More specifically, you need to get to know your customers. Figure out where they go and hang out. Do this both for physical locations and online places. As you get to know them, you’ll be able to identify the best places where they will buy your stuff.
The temptation is there to put your product up for sale in as many locations as possible. After all, the more places it’s found, the more likely people will notice it. But that would be a poor use of limited resources. It is far better to stay focused on a few places and do it well rather than picking a lot of places and doing it poorly.
Always take the time to review ways to save money. For example, if you have a physical store that isn’t performing well, it could indicate a problem with the place factor in the marketing mix. Maybe your best customers are online on a certain platform. They don’t want the inconvenience of coming into the store. So in this instance, if you focused on an online approach, you would be saving money by not having a physical location. You can then invest in having a great website.
When you see an ad on television or a website, that’s an example of promotion. Advertising makes up a significant portion of the aspect of promotion, but it also includes areas like marketing strategy and public relations. Promotion communicates with the target audience why they should buy your product. This might include a focus on the price, or it could emphasize the qualities of the item and how it differs from competitors.
Promotion and place often go hand in hand. Where you buy the product will often also be where you see advertising for it. Think of the display signs in retail stores. Such displays are designed to appeal to the target audience. The same holds true with online promotions, which can often be highly targeted and tailored to individuals.
Common Promotion Problems
- Promotions will often flop if done incorrectly
- You’re promoting in the wrong place
- Issues with the marketing funnel
- Customers get used to lower prices and don’t want to pay more for a product
- Your product is out of season
- The content you’re using isn’t getting engagement or traction
How to Overcome Them
Promotions will sometimes fail because companies don’t utilize the marketing flywheel effectively. The purpose of the flywheel is to attract, engage, and delight. How you go about doing that will largely depend on your product, but it should ultimately leave the customer feeling better than when they started. Promotion drives engagement and adds momentum to the flywheel. It’s the perfect method to connect with every customer in a unique and valuable way.
There are many ways to reach out to people, especially in the online space. You may try email marketing, useful blog posts, free trials, eBooks, podcasts, and a social media strategy, among many other possibilities. Put a human touch to the content. Marketing automation may be useful in some ways, but sending out a mass coupon doesn’t feel personal. As you get this final piece of the marketing mix puzzle right, you’ll see the positive responses in no time.
Optimizing the 4 Ps of Marketing in 2022
Since it’s a concept originating from the 1950s, there are critics out there who argue that the 4 Ps of marketing are outdated. However, the core concepts behind them are far from useless in today’s world. You can still optimize what does work about the 4 Ps and make it more modern and fitting with the times.
One way is to do SEO research. Data analytics have come a long way in the last couple of decades, and now the ability to analyze your customers is more accessible than ever. Look and see how people are using the marketing mix now. Identify ways you can put a modern spin on it. As you do so, you’ll see that the 4 Ps are just as relevant now as they were a half-century ago.