Business Basics: The Marketing Mix

Marketing is like cooking. Like cooks, marketers take different ingredients and mix them together in creative ways to make new things. When the marketer gets the mix right, the result will be a product or service that customers will buy. But when the mix is wrong, nobody will want (or be able) to buy it. The main ingredients in this mix are “The Four Ps”: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place.

Of course, the product has to be something that people want or need. That means that marketers do a lot of market research into those wants and needs. They also need to work closely with designers to make sure the product looks great and works well, right from the beginning of the product development process. Even the best marketer in the world can’t do much with a terrible product!

Setting the price is also difficult. If it’s too high, nobody will buy the product. If it’s too low, the company won’t make much money. Marketers often need to test different pricing strategies in different markets to see what works best for a particular product.

Promotion involves telling the world about your product. If nobody knows about it, they’ll never buy it. Marketers often use a mix of advertising, public relations (PR), sales teams, and word-of-mouth recommendations, to make sure the right people know about the product — and to make them want to buy it, of course. These days, social media campaigns also play a large part in promoting products.

The fourth part of the mix involves getting the product to the right place at the right time. If customers can’t find it in stores, they won’t be able to buy it. This might mean negotiating with particular stores to persuade them to stock your product and planning where in the store to put it. It also means making sure there’s a good distribution network to deliver your product into customers’ hands as quickly and smoothly as possible.

The Four Ps are the basic ingredients of the mix, but they’re not the whole story. There are at least three more Ps to consider, especially if you’re selling a service. For a start, you need to think hard about physical evidence: things that customers see and feel when they buy your service. Without any physical evidence, customers won’t remember it — or recommend it to others. Similarly, many types of product, from software programs to shampoo, don’t actually look great by themselves. They need strong physical evidence in the form of attractive packaging. When customers go to a store, they need to see and hold the product before deciding to buy it.

Another important part of the mix is the people who deliver your service: are they well-trained, polite, and efficient, or do they make your service look bad? That’s why marketers often need to get involved in staff recruitment and training.

Finally, marketers need to think about processes. For example, what steps must a customer go through between clicking on an online advert and receiving the product or service they have bought? How do complaints from customers lead to improvements in the future? These are just two of the many processes that marketers need to plan, analyze, and improve.

In fact, when you look at all seven Ps, it becomes clear that marketing covers almost every part of a business. We might even say that every single employee in a business really works in marketing.

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