The 4 P’s in Marketing

Dear M & M: I have run a business for several years. People keep talking about the 4 P’s in marketing and having the right marketing mix. What are they talking about?

– Jim

Dear Jim:

The best marketing plan has always been to sell something people want. However, it is more than just selling what people want. To put it simple, marketing is all about putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. This all sounds easy, but it is hard.

Much work needs to go into finding a product or service that people really need or want. Figuring out how or where they want to go to buy it is equally important. I do not mean selling it at a place or way convenient to the buyer. At all times we must keep the customer in mind and actually offer something of value to them.

In addition, we must be thinking about what are the substitutes or similar products and services and how much are they selling for? Also, one needs to consider how much are your competitors selling the same product or service for? Are there other offerings out there with better extended warranties, offering more colors or choices or just flat out beating you at your selling price?

All of these activities product, place and price need to happen at a time the customer is ready, willing, and able to buy. Yogi Berra said it best, “you don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run if you have the timing it will go.” Not many people will want a Christmas tree in July.

The Marketing Mix is a general term to describe the various choices a company may have to bringing a product or service to market.  In 1960 E.J. McCarthy was the first person to define the 4 P’s in Marketing identifying Product, Place, Price and Promotion as four elements in defining one possible marketing process.

The 4 P’s in Marketing is just one of the ways to define a Marketing Mix. One must always keep in mind that each element in the 4 P’s needs to work together. If one of the parts of the 4P’s; product, place, price or promotion isn’t correct you will probably not succeed. Remember, in defining the product, does the product or service solve a problem or meet the needs of a consumer?

What colors, sizes, styles should be offered? When determining place, one must figure out will it be sold in a store, online, mail order or a combination of everything. How will customers buy it? When looking at pricing how do you stack up against the competition or competing products or services?

Finally, when is the best time and place to promote and who is going to deliver the message? Over time the 4 P’s have been expanded to cover people, processes and package making it the 7 P’s in Marketing. In addition, to the 4 P’s Bob Lauterborn relabeled and calls the Marketing Mix the 4 C’s.  The 4 C’s are Customer (What do they want?), Cost (What is the price?), Convenience (Where will you sell it?) and Communication (How will you promote?).

-M&M

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