Using the 4Ps of marketing to support your marketing plan

30 Jun 2022  |  by Joe Meade

8 min read

The 4Ps of marketing help you define your marketing options. They also ensure that your offering meets a specific need or demand.

Popularised by Neil Borden in the 1950s and 60s, the 4Ps (also known as the marketing mix) are just as relevant and important today as they were 70 years ago.

In this blog, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the 4Ps. In doing so, we’ll answer popular questions such as ‘what are the 4Ps of marketing?’. We’ll also look into why you should incorporate the 4Ps into your marketing plan and how you can measure the success of your marketing mix.

What are the 4Ps of marketing?

Before we go into detail, let’s start with the basics and answer the question ‘what are the 4Ps in business?’

Well, put simply, the 4Ps of marketing are the four key factors that are involved in the marketing of a product or a service.

They are:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

Often referred to as the marketing mix, the 4Ps are constrained by both internal and external factors. They also interact significantly with each other.

Using the 4Ps, a business can identify key factors that relate to the success of its company. This includes factors such as what customers want from them, how their product or service meets or fails to meet those needs, how their product or service is perceived in the world, and how they stand out from their competitors.

What are the 7Ps of marketing?

Now you know exactly what the 4Ps of marketing involve. However, at this point, we should also point out that there’s also an extension of this model, which is known as the 7Ps of marketing. 

As well as focusing on product, price, place, and promotion, the 7Ps of marketing include three additional points: people, process, and physical evidence. However, these final 3Ps are not relevant to everyone, so in this post, we will focus on the 4Ps of marketing, which is still considered the traditional model. 

The 4Ps of marketing in focus

Product

The product refers to a good or service sold by the company.  

In order to be successful, marketers need to understand the lifecycle of a product. The type of product also partially dictates how much businesses can charge for it and how they should promote it in the marketplace.

When it comes to your product or service, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What does the customer want from the product or service?
  • What need does the product or service satisfy?
  • What features does the product have that help it meet the needs of customers?
  • Are there any costly features included that the customer won’t use?
  • What size, shape and colour should it be?
  • What is it called and how is it branded?
  • How is the product different from competitor products?

Price

Price is the amount that a customer must pay for a product or service.

To be successful, marketers must link the price of the product to its real and perceived value. However, marketers must also consider supply costs, seasonal discounts, and competitor pricing strategies.

When determining price, a number of other factors also come into play. For example, some companies will artificially inflate the price of a product to make it appear as more of a luxury item. By contrast, others will lower the price to deliberately undercut competitors.

When it comes to determining the price, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are there established price points for products and services in this area?
  • What is the value of your product or service to the buyer?
  • Are your customers' price sensitive?
  • What discounts could you offer to certain segments of your market?

Place

Place refers to where a company decides to sell a product and how they deliver the product to the market.

The goal of any marketer is always to put a product in front of the customers who are most likely to buy it. This may include getting the product into certain stores, or the placement of the actual product within the store. It may also include focusing on activities online rather than using traditional billboards or print adverts. 

For example, if you’re looking to promote a high-end beauty product to 16-24 year olds, then advertising your product on channels like TikTok and Instagram is likely to be much more effective than running a similar campaign on LinkedIn. Similarly, if you’re selling the product in physical stores, then you should target luxury stores rather than traditionally cheaper high-street retailers. That said, where you market your product and where you sell it should be almost entirely influenced by where your customers are (both physically and online). You should always research this though, and never make assumptions about where your audience is. 

So, when it comes to determining place, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where do buyers look for your product or service?
  • If they look in a store, what kind of store is it? For example, do they shop in a specialist boutique, an online store, or via a catalogue? 
  • How can you access the right distribution channels?
  • What do your competitors do, and how can you learn from that or differentiate?

Promotion

Promotion includes everything relating to your advertising and public relations strategy.

When promoting your product or service, you need to show customers both why they need it and why they should be willing to pay a certain price for it. Often, marketers will tie together elements of promotion and placement in order to reach their target market.

When it comes to promotion, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where and when can you get your marketing message across to your target market?
  • Will you reach your audience by advertising online, in the press, on TV, on the radio, or on billboards? Alternatively, are direct marketing mailshots and traditional PR better options? When is the best time to promote?
  • Is there any seasonality in the market?
  • How do your competitors conduct promotions and is there anything you can learn?

The best marketing campaigns include effective advertising. This is perhaps best shown by the Swedish vodka brand Absolut. In 1980, Absolut had only sold 10,000 cases of vodka. But, with the help of one of the longest-running advertising campaigns in history (1980-2005), they crossed the 4.5 million-case threshold in 2000.

Unique and interesting, Absolut’s campaign featured the brand's signature bottle styled as a range of surreal images, including a bottle with a halo (their first effort), the door of 10 Downing Street and as some taxis in traffic in New York. Due to the simplicity and success of the promotional campaign, Absolut made over 1,500 variations of the same ad.

Similarly, another great example of promotion came from BMW. The German car manufacturer placed their new BMW Z3 in the 1995 film GoldenEye, which then became the first James Bond film to not feature an Aston Martin car.

Even though the car did not officially go on sale until months after the movie left theatres, BMW still received 9,000 orders in the month after the movie opened. At times, waiting periods for the Z3 were in excess of a year.

The importance of the 4Ps of marketing/the marketing mix

The 4Ps (also known as the marketing mix) help marketers consider everything about a product or service when they're deciding how to market it.

As we’ve seen already, you can use the 4Ps to answer questions about your product or service and your marketing strategy. As a result, if you frame your marketing around the 4Ps, you’ll learn more about your offering, as well as what your customers want from you and what your competition is doing.

Thinking about your marketing in terms of the 4Ps will help you work out how you can reach your customers effectively. It will also help you understand more about your customers, the competition, and your company.

Finally, by developing a marketing mix, you’ll also calculate how you can uniquely position your brand and product in a crowded marketplace.

How to incorporate the 4Ps into your marketing plan

The 4Ps of marketing can be incorporated into any marketing plan. Although they can help improve your current marketing activities, they’re particularly useful in helping you decide how to take a new product to market. Whether you’re considering a new or existing offer, follow these steps to help you to define and improve your marketing mix.

  1. Identify the product or service you want to analyse
  2. Answer all of the questions relating to the 4Ps that we outlined above
  3. Once you’ve asked these questions, challenge your answers. For example, ask a number of ‘why’ and ‘what if’ questions that may cause you to think differently about your product or marketing, such as ‘what if we drop the price by 5%?’ or ‘why are we relying on online advertising rather than PR?’
  4. Once you have a well-defined marketing mix, you then need to test your overall offer from the perspective of the customer. Look at whether the offer meets the needs of your customers (product), whether they will actually find the product (place), whether they will think it’s priced favourably (price) and whether your marketing communications will reach them (promotion)
  5. When you’ve optimised your marketing mix, you’re ready to get started. From here though, it’s important you review your strategy regularly. After all, some elements will need to change as the product or service and its market share grow

Measuring the success of the 4Ps of marketing

As well as planning, implementing, and executing your marketing strategy, you also need to set realistic KPIs and measure your results along the way.

Any strategy should start with baseline numbers for sales, market penetration, and overall profits. As you build your marketing strategy, you should also set goals for improvement, with deadlines and milestone checkpoints for each.

If you know your numbers and your expectations, you’ll find it easy to identify whether your strategy is working. On top of this, setting realistic goals can help boost team morale.

Similarly, if you use milestone checkpoints, you’ll be able to adjust your strategy as you go. This means you can invest more in high-performing areas and take money away from areas that have been less successful. This way, you can maximise profits and ROI.

Remember, marketing is part art and part science. Doing your research doesn’t guarantee success, and your products, customers, and marketing activities may all change over time. Due to this, split testing your campaigns can be a great way of measuring the effectiveness of your activities and different campaign variants.

How Apteco can help you to analyse and report on your marketing plan

Here at Apteco, we make it easy for you to analyse and report on your marketing plan. This is because our powerful customer analytics and audience targeting software helps you convert data into actionable insights.

With the help of our state-of-the-art marketing data analysis software, you can understand your customers better than ever before. On top of this, our market-leading software can also help you transform your dashboarding insights into campaign actions. It can also help you manage your campaign at every stage and provide you with instant, real-time access to activity reports. This way, you can always use live insights and act fast.

Then, when it’s time to report on the effectiveness of your marketing mix, you can create unlimited interactive dashboards and stunning visualisations that show campaign performance.

 

Joe Meade

Joe joined Apteco as Marketing Executive in 2021. Joe has several years' experience working in B2C and B2B marketing, and oversees Apteco's social media activity, email campaigns, website and monthly reporting. 

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