- This summer I helped a client write her marketing plan. It was a long but worthwhile process- and it forced me to think of how to explain the concepts that I teach to my students at BCIT in a way that would make sense to a small business owner who was already many years into business operations, but wanted a revitalized plan to better focus her offering for her customers. One concept she found very helpful was the 4 Ps – a classic planning tool that marketers use to organize their strategic activities. We focused on a newer version of the 4 Ps – one that puts the consumer front and centre in all of your marketing. And isn’t that what marketing should do?
- (The following text first appeared on my blog at ericajane.ca)
The 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix, Redux
- Product, Price, Place, Promotion– the four strategic pillars of the marketing mix. The 4 Ps are a decades-old marketing tool that still makes a lot of sense. If you want to successfully launch a marketing plan, you need to cover these basics. Most firms today understand that the 4 Ps must be integrated: they must work together as a whole. Your price strategy has to match your product strategy, your place strategy (marketing channels) have to align with your promotion strategy, and it all has to function to deliver that value proposition to your target market.
- One way the 4 Ps have been updated is to envision the 4 Cs– the consumer side of things. The 4 Ps are planned from the perspective of the business- what resources, assets are at the brand’s disposal and what investment the business is in a position to make in order to deliver their offering and make a profit at the same time. The 4 Cs take the opposite view- from the perspective of the consumer.
Product = Customer Solution.
- From the business standpoint, product strategy might factor in controllable factors like manufacturing capabilities, supplies, expertise, or research and development. But in creating your product offering you must always keep the customer’s perspective in mind. Consumers will only buy your product if it fills a need or want- if it solves a problem for them or makes their lives better. So keeping “customer solution” in mind will help you focus your product strategy on developing something your target market will really find appealing.
Price = Cost
- You may set the price according to your break-even point or your desired profit margin, but you must always keep in mind that to the consumer, the price they pay for your offering costs them. Consumers must sacrifice to pay for every good or service, and there are so many demands on their wallet it is easy to avoid the cost of purchasing your brand by choosing other options. So when you devise your price strategy, remember that to your target market, the price will be perceived as their expense. Make sure your pricing matches what the market will bear.
Place = Convenience
- The only thing consumers value as much as their money is their time. For many goods and services, we reach for what is the most convenient, and won’t go too far out of our way for a specific brand. Here we can see how the 4 Cs help to balance out the 4 Ps. When looking for a retail space, for example, high rents may drive you away from your demographic. But when you realize that for your target market place = convenience, you may be more willing to stretch your assets in order to be in that prime location. Or maybe it’s about finding the ideal compromise- a way to meet that demographic online without the high overhead of a bricks and mortar space.
- This is my favourite of the 4 Cs. It is such a crucial realization that promotion is not just an add on- it is a necessity. “If you build it, they will come” is absolutely not true when it comes to business. You have to let people know about what you are offering! But “promotion” can seem like a dirty word- like you are pushing your message out where it isn’t wanted. Forcing your brand onto others doesn’t seem like something positive that you want to invest in- until you realize that when done right, your promotion strategy will be viewed by your target market as welcome communication. Two key things here: first, effective communication means getting your message to the right people, and tailoring that message to those people so that your unique values is immediately understood. Second, communication is a two way process. Shifting the focus from promotion to communication means you try to engage your target audience and elicit response– and then pay attention to those responses. Viewing your promotional strategy through the lens of communication helps you stay closer to your customers, which is a lot more effective than just blasting out a promotional campaign.
- All in all, taking the consumer view of things into account when planning your 4 Ps just makes sense if you want long term relationships with your customers!
- Wishing you marketing success,
- ~Erica Halvorsen
Need some guidance creating your marketing plan? Get in touch with me at ericajane.ca