The marketing mix framework has been the preferred and dominant marketing model since its introduction some 60 years ago. It is the first marketing model studied in Marketing 101 and has become an undeniably basic marketing model overshadowing other theories and approaches.
It also played an important role in the development of marketing management. But what should I say now? This article will help you understand what the marketing mix is and how to apply it to your business.
In the digital marketing era where the theory of mass marketing more than 50 years ago is more or less out of date, is the marketing mix still relevant in 2021?
What is the Marketing Mix?
Marketing Mix is a list of the main elements that form the basis of a company’s marketing strategy.
The mix helps retailers evaluate and re-evaluate brand activity regularly.
With customers in need of a quick change, brands often need to review their marketing mix to see if they are focused on the current market.
The marketing mix is a concept that Neil Borden popularized in the 1980s. Borden notes that “the science of marketing is difficult for us to find”. He wanted to create practical tools that would help marketers be objective and understand what marketing is.
“The strength of the marketing mix is its simplicity – categorizing the fundamentals of marketing, as a reference point for applying marketing to a business.”
Borden names twelve controllable marketing elements that he believed, if responsibly managed, would result in a “profitable business operation”.
What are the 4Ps?
The 4Ps have become synonymous with the marketing mix. The 4Ps are product, price, place, and promotion. The strength of the 4Ps approach is that it is a memorable and practical framework for marketing decision-making.
Along with academics’ popularity as a teaching tool, the 4Ps Mix became the trusted framework for marketing managers dealing with tactical/operational marketing issues.
Each of the 4 “ingredients” complements each other. For example, you cannot develop a product without considering its price.
The product or service that your company wants to sell to customers. The product covers everything from the product design, the technology your product uses, to the convenience of the product and warranties.
A business should be able to look at their products critically as though you were from the outside looking in and ask a couple of crucial questions:
- Are the products/services suitable for the market and customers of today?
- How does it rate next to competitors? Do you have a point of difference?
For a product or service to be successful, it is essential first to know what market exists. Research is a crucial step to get your product right.
Pricing strategies that allow you to be as profitable as possible. It needs to be relative to your competitors, the needs of your customers, and the marketplace.
Sometimes you need to lower your prices. At other times, it may be right to raise your prices.
Often, the profitability of products/services does not justify the amount of effort and resources to produce them. By raising prices, you may lose a small proportion of your clients or customers, but you become profitable.
Consumers use price as an indicator of product quality or benefits. High-priced brands are often perceived to be of higher quality and become less exposed to price cuts of competitors.
Promotion is how you communicate with your target audience/customers about your products/services.
It is essential to use different promotion and communication channels to find the best way to reach your customers and make sales.
Promotion includes advertising, content marketing, sponsorship, sales staff, product placement, direct mail, social media, and influencers.
The way we promoted our brands in 2020 has changed drastically in just ten to twenty years. What is working today will not necessarily work next week.
Businesses need to consistently update their marketing communication and stay updated with what is relevant and the most cost-effective way to reach and convert prospects into customers.
Businesses should often review their sales processes to try and maximize their conversion rate of leads into customers/clients.
The place is where and how you sell your product or service. It could be a brick-and-mortar store (physical location) or online.
If you have a physical location, it needs to be well thought out to be as convenient as possible.
If your business is based online, your website and sales process should be professional, well-structured, and easy. You want to make the process as pleasant as possible to increase your chance of a sale.
There are so many alternatives online; you do not want frustrated customers going elsewhere.
The sales channels your company uses are another aspect of the place.
Are you using salespeople, intermediaries, or selling directly to the customer?
Wholesale or retail?
Are you selling through Facebook ads, telemarketing, or catalogs?
Your business should try different methods to work out what works best for customers.
The marketing mix: A vague set of guidelines?
Although the 4Ps is the marketing model, it is not without its criticism. The marketing mix is a list of categories of marketing variables.
The 4ps is essential in this sense, with only four variables. It is quite vague, and the model focuses on internal variables, therefore, an incomplete basis for marketing.
Marketing has evolved, and the 4Ps model just not specific enough for many businesses. Tremendous as a general learning tool — simple to help learn the basics of marketing, but not enough specifics for most companies to apply and measure.
A transfer from product-focused marketing to people-focused marketing
With the explosion of social media and digital marketing in the 2000s, the way brands communicate with customers has drastically changed. The number of services available to consumers has increased rapidly, and there has been a shift from mass marketing to niche marketing.
The 4Ps is a mass-marketing technique and a product-oriented approach.
Marketing has moved from a product focus to a market or a customer-orientated approach. Businesses must nurture relationships with niche markets and supply solutions to clients.
A customer-focused marketing mix model is the 4C’s (Lauterbur, 1990) that uses the dimensions of communication, consumer needs, cost, and convenience.
Businesses make marketing decisions based on giving customers the service they need and want.
The purposes of communicating with customers and identifying their needs what they specifically want to buy (consumer needs), minimize the total buying cost to satisfy what a consumer wants (expense), and provide the consumers with the ease of getting the products/services (convenience).
4C’s: Marketing decisions are based on giving customers the service they need and want.
The Seven Ps of Services Marketing
There are now a few marketing mix definitions.
The Seven P’s is an extension of the 4P’s, adding packaging, positioning, and people.
Other variations of the Seven P’s include Processes and Physical evidence. I will discuss all five. These frameworks are for services, often called the 7Ps of digital marketing, services marketing, or target marketing.
Physical evidence is a valuable tool for a business to build credibility with potential customers.
Examples of this are consistency across branding, testimonials from former clients, and recommendations.
People do not like to buy the unknown. Social proof is crucial for them to take the next step. Ask for feedback, and develop reference materials so new customers can buy with confidence.
If your facilities are not up to an acceptable standard, why would the customer think your service is?
Physical evidence also comes in the form of professionalism from staff, and cleanliness of the brick and mortar store or office, or smart online interfaces. This physical evidence is reassuring to the customer as it helps associate professionalism with your brand, building your credibility.
The process of a business is how they supply & sell a product or service.
Every link of the chain from convenience and speed at the point of sale responds time online or on the phone from customer service—the helpfulness of staff, and how they deal with complaints.
Often systems are designed to help the company instead of customers. Here lies the issue.
Having processes in place and staff trained in those processes ensures consistency across the organization.
A potential customer who has a frustrating experience with a non-empathetic team member can have a devastating effect. Many customers will give up and use another company.
Then tell their friends and family, and anybody on social media who listen to avoid your services.
In the age of Google Reviews, it is crucial to have your service processes right.
The packaging is the way your product or service appears from the outside. Packaging also refers to your staff’s presentation and how they interact with customers.
Your place of business. Your print marketing, your branding, your website.
Everything influencing customer’s confidence (or lack of) in dealing with you. Like how real estate agents all dress a certain way and often drive a similar type of car. It is all about creating a specific belief.
You want to leave people with a great first impression.
Consider everything that the customer sees from the first moment of contact with your company through the purchasing process.
Small improvements in your product or service’s packaging or external appearance can often lead to your customers’ entirely different reactions.
In terms of positioning, a brand is in the market compared to competitors. Where is the brand in the hearts and minds of the customers? What would people say if we asked them to describe the brand?
The way your customers see and think of you is critical to success. How strongly people perceive brands and how they view them compared to alternatives determines how likely they are to become customers.
When determining your preferred market position, think about your ideal client or client: what will attract them to your brand? How can you position yourself today to solve tomorrow’s problems?
People are the last P in the marketing mix. Not only working with customers but also the culture within a company.
Employees include recruitment and training / professional development as well as employee benefits. Recruit, recruit, and retain people with the skills and abilities to get the job done.
Your brand reputation depends on the service it provides to customers. Hence, employees need to understand the company’s vision and be well motivated with the right attitude.
Many customers are unable to separate a product or service from the employees who provide it.
Hence the importance of your employees and their services. Everyone who meets a customer leaves an impression that can have a huge impact on customer satisfaction. Negative or positive.
We explore the marketing mix, its history, and what it means today.
The marketing mix is an essential element of a company’s marketing strategy.
What do you think?
Is it still relevant?
Times have changed, but the essence of marketing to introduce the right product to the right people remains essential for any business.