The Marketing Mix: The Art of Using the 4 Ps of Marketing

Dylan Buckley

Updated October 5, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

Dylan Buckley is a freelance writer based in California and the chief content/marketing officer of Furzly, a pet company he co-founded. He specializes in developing content for the cryptocurrency, mental health and business industries.

Marketing involves much more than promotion, with companies having to think about everything from conception to production as well. Marketers achieve a much more comprehensive marketing strategy by applying best practices found in systems that work across multiple industries. One system that you can employ is known as the marketing mix. In this article, we define what the marketing mix is and how to leverage the four Ps to create an effective marketing strategy for your organization.

What is the marketing mix?

The marketing mix is a general term used to describe a prescribed set of processes used for promotional purposes. While the advice and procedures it contains may vary depending upon who is explaining the concept, the marketing mix can typically be reduced to the four Ps:

  1. Product: Product refers to developing and defining a strong product concept using features like type of product, variety of product and quality and design.

  2. Price: Price refers to defining the cost of a product by considering features like list price and discounts.

  3. Promotion: Promotion refers to the promotional practices needed to increase the exposure of a product and its brand.

  4. Place: Place refers to the channels needed to boost awareness around a brand and its product.

Read more: Marketing's Promotional Mix: Definition and How To Use It

The 4 Ps of marketing

Breaking down a marketing strategy into the most basic components can make it easier to develop a roadmap for any company. The four Ps of marketing—product, price, promotion and place—are devices you can use to outline and create a comprehensive marketing strategy. They allow marketing departments to consider several questions that ensure they're able to effectively create and communicate a new product to target consumers.

Below are some questions for each of the four Ps to streamline the process of employing the marketing mix:

Product questions

Some excellent product questions to ask include:

  • What is the customer looking to get from the product or service?

  • How will the customer use the product?

  • Where will the customer use the product?

  • What are the necessary features required to meet the needs of the customer?

  • How do customers interact with the product or service?

  • What's the name of the product or service?

  • What's the brand voice, tone and style?

  • How is this product different from competitor products?

  • What is the value proposition of the product or service?

Price questions

A few helpful price questions to ask include:

  • What would consumers pay for this product or service?

  • How does it derive its market value?

  • Is the target market sensitive to price?

  • If the price shifts down slightly, will consumerism increase dramatically?

  • Will consumers be concerned if the price increases a small amount?

  • What discounts would make a difference in selling more products?

  • How much does the product cost when compared to competitor products?

Promotion questions

Some promotion questions that can help define a marketing strategy include:

  • When is the best time to promote?

  • What digital strategies will help you accomplish your promotional goals?

  • What time of day can you reach consumers on specific social media sites?

  • How many times a day should you post to social to promote this product?

  • What social platforms should you include in your marketing strategy?

  • How can you get consumers to review a product?

  • What incentives might make consumers more likely to buy again?

  • How do competitors promote their products?

Place questions

Place, both physical and digital, requires marketers to ask questions such as:

  • Where will customers look for the product or services?

  • Where will customers use the product and services?

  • Where should you advertise to reach the most consumers?

  • Where are there events happening that make sense to promote this product or service?

  • Where do your competitors have a stronghold on the market, and how can you displace it?

How to use the 4 Ps to create a marketing strategy

With a deeper understanding of what the four Ps are and how they help professionals create a successful marketing strategy for a digital world, you can formulate an effective marketing strategy. Here's how to use the four Ps to create a comprehensive marketing strategy:

1. Identify your products and services

You can't communicate about a product if the marketing team responsible for promoting the product doesn't fully understand it. In order to effectively market a product or service, it's crucial to identify the undeniable benefits that it offers customers. Marketers also need to have a deep understanding of how the product or service works and the need that it fills in the industry, even if the business has not created something entirely unique. Put simply, all marketing teams must be able to describe what the product or service does, what its features are and what benefits it provides.

Related: Product Benefits: Different Types and How To Identify Them

2. Define your consumer

It's beneficial for a product or service you promote to fill a certain need in the market. This need ultimately defines who the product appeals to and what type of person buys it. Identifying the ideal consumer base is one of the most critical aspects of marketing as it defines the tone and style of future marketing campaigns as well as the social media platforms or channels that you launch the campaigns on. Using current marketing data, customer testimonials and case studies makes it easier to develop a buyer persona that helps marketers achieve this goal.

3. Ask questions

You can use the four Ps in the marketing mix to create a list of questions (such as in the examples above) to define your marketing strategies and goals. Using the "What," "Where," "When," "Why" and "How" of reaching your target audience can help you develop further questions to better tailor your marketing efforts to the target audience as well. The more questions you create for the four Ps, the more effective a marketing strategy can become.

4. Define and record your marketing mix

The four Ps and the questions prompted by them define an organization's marketing mix for a given product. Recording these elements and the subsequent marketing tactics employed in a document or project management tool is essential as the marketing team moves forward and switches strategies to determine which methods work best. No one marketing mix works for all organizations, and personalization is a key component to getting the most out of this strategy.

Related: Comprehensive Guide To Creating a Marketing Plan (With Tips, Template and Example)

5. Test your work

Testing the marketing mix is as simple as asking questions from the perspective of the customer who would purchase these products. A few great questions to start with include, 'How does this product meet my needs?' or 'Where can I find the product?' Leveraging frequently asked questions and customer feedback helps businesses create a strong marketing mix that is personally tailored to the consumer purchasing the product. Over time and with the deployment of new marketing strategies, more questions and data become available to use that can help you perfect the marketing mix.

6. Review your results regularly

No business plan remains the same as an organization grows, and neither does a marketing mix. Taking the time to assess the marketing mix's success is crucial to making the necessary changes to improve the overall marketing strategy. The marketing team should assess their progress at least every six months to gauge campaign progress and make the alterations as needed.

Enhance your marketing strategy with the 7 Ps

Expanding a marketing mix can be helpful when there are unique qualities in a business that you can't properly explain using only the four Ps. For the marketing mix, there are three additional Ps that you can add to further define a marketing strategy. These include:

  • Physical evidence: This point includes tangible aspects of the product, such as packaging and quality, and the physical environment in which it's created or sold, including factory conditions, the layout of the store and signage. This can be especially important in defining the benefits of products like health supplements, where environment and packaging play a major role in public perception and trust.

  • People: This section involves the employees who work for an organization and the different processes that go into hiring them. In a service-based business, understanding the recruitment and training process and publishing customer testimonials can make a major difference in conversion rates.

  • Process: Marketers may wish to explain the processes behind the manufacturing, handling and delivery of the product. This can increase transparency within the organization and give customers greater insight into how their products are being made and delivered.

Related: Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy: What's the Difference?

Consider the 4 Cs instead

Another interpretation of the marketing mix is through the use of the four Cs. The four Cs were developed to pull the attention away from the business and shift the attention to the customer. The four Cs may work better for corporate cultures built on customer satisfaction. Here are what the four Cs consist of and how they differ from the four Ps:

Customer solutions vs. products

The four Ps begin by helping marketers conceptualize a product first and define customer benefits later. Customer solutions work the opposite way by identifying a specific problem that a customer is dealing with and developing a solution around that need. This consumer-based strategy allows companies to focus on solving problems and tackling customer needs directly rather than defining the purpose of a product after they have developed it.

Cost vs. price

A cost discussion differs from a price discussion in that it focuses on the value the product brings to the customer and the specific financial requirements expected of the customer. This includes the total cost of ownership, not just the upfront cost of the product itself. It also includes the emotional cost that comes with buying or not buying a product or other decisions they may have to make along the way. Helping the customer see the big picture helps them make more confident purchases.

Customer convenience vs. place

Instead of thinking about ad placement in terms of the best places to display digital and print ads, consider the most convenient placements that allow customers to buy your product quickly and easily. That could mean setting up a system to automate abandoned cart emails triggered whenever a customer leaves products in their digital shopping card. Another idea is promoting your product on social media platforms where you can use a 'Buy Now' button that makes the checkout process faster for the customer. Consider what convenient shopping methods would further encourage a customer to purchase the product or service.

Communicate vs. promote

Companies using this method place a greater emphasis on communicating value to clients rather than simply promoting a product. Buyers today want to understand the values and motivations of a company and why their products are a good fit for them. Conveying meaningful messages to consumers goes beyond simple promotion tactics and requires a marketing department that's willing to strategize around communicating with the client and making those communications a larger part of the company's brand image.

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