What are the 4 Ps of Marketing? Understanding the Basics
- Posted in Conversion Rate Optimization
Products aren’t sold off the shelves because they’re amazing and revolutionary.
Having an ‘amazing product’ is no longer enough. I run out of fingers when I count the number of amazing products expected to sell, like hotcakes but failed due to poor marketing.
Think of Crystal Pepsi. Or Amazon Fire Phone. Or that Cheetos Lip Balm.
Those products were backed by renowned brands and expected to help increase revenue, but they all failed to impact the consumers’ minds.
That shows that an ‘amazing product’ is a tiny fraction of a big marketing equation.
So, what does the whole equation look like?
Well, this is where we start talking about the 4Ps of marketing:
Product, price, place, and promotion.
In this article, I’ll be examining the origin of the concept of the 4Ps of marketing, the 4Ps of marketing explained, how to use the 4Ps of marketing to develop your marketing strategy, the 3 extra Ps, etc.
Ready to dive in?
Let’s get started.
Understanding The 4Ps of Marketing.
Another term for the 4Ps of marketing is the word marketing mix. Like other marketing themes and concepts, the 4Ps of marketing have been around for a while.
In 1948, Harvard University Prof. James Culliton published an article entitled, The Management of Marketing Costs, in which Culliton describes marketers as ‘mixers of ingredients.’
Some years later, Cullitons’ colleague Professor Neil Borden published a retrospective article detailing the early history of the marketing mix in which he claims that he was inspired by Culliton’s idea of ‘mixers’ and credits himself with popularising the concept of the ‘marketing mix.
The 4Ps of Marketing Explained.
Before selling your product, you need to understand the relationship between the 4Ps of marketing. In isolation, they don’t work best, but together, they make the perfect marketing mix.
The first p in the marketing mix is the product. Every marketing campaign begins with having a product or service.
Getting a product that your ideal customer will love to pay for consistently starts with you understanding your customer’s pain points. A good product has to address customer pain points and be a reliable solution.
So, how do you understand customer pain points? Well, this is where research comes into play.
Customer research before developing a product helps to reduce the risk of having a product your ideal audience doesn’t want.
There are four types of research to consider;
1. Quantitative research: this type of research goes for facts and its objective; an example is asking the question, ‘how much are you willing to pay for a product like this?’ These types of questions could be sent out using a questionnaire and calculated to find the sweet spot for your audience.
2. Qualitative research: this type of research is detail-driven and subjective, and it’s often based on opinions and not facts. It usually involves open-ended questions that allow the respondent to explain their thoughts. Here, you could conduct jobs-to-be-done interviews, send out open-ended questionnaires, etc.
3. Primary research involves interacting directly with your audience and getting details and facts from them. For instance, setting up a customer survey on your website or sending it via email is a way of conducting primary research with your audience.
4. Secondary research: here, the research has been done by someone else, like an organization, and it’s available online. In this instance, you might need to purchase it, or it could be available for free.
You’ll notice that these customer research techniques overlap and are essential in getting valuable insight before developing a product.
Professional tip: something else you can do during the product stage of the 4Ps is to study what’s available on the market so you can see the products your target audience is used to and features they’ll like to see, and you develop them in your product.
This helps with product differentiation and a unique selling proposition.
Here’s an example of how myobvi differentiates its collagen products in the supplements niche;
The collagen market is saturated with many products that don’t taste good and don’t live up to the hype.
Obvi saw this, made a move, and they’re known for their great taste and results. See some reviews below.
Place here refers to where your product can be found (bought and sold); this refers to physical and online channels. One critical question you must answer is which channels (online and offline) do your prospective customers love to hang out.
Once you figure this out, the place factor in the 4Ps is taken care of.
Here’s an example;
Walmart has an online presence and retail locations, so the makers of cheap toys for kids have an advantage because they can list them online and in retail locations. This makes it very accessible to families wanting the toys online or offline.
Walmart’s online presence;
Retail store finder;
Here’s how Nike crushes it with placement;
You can also find Nike online;
P.s: If you miss it here (where your products are placed and seen), you’ll be overrun with low sales, bottoming revenue, and frustration.
Price is the amount your ideal audience is willing to pay for your product.
This is where many businesses miss it because the prices on products aren’t done considering the consumer, but the brand.
In 2013, Burger King introduced a new item to their menu, which was supposed to be a healthier version of their fries.
They called it Statisfries, which absorbed less batter when frying and was a healthier option.
They failed to convey the information that though it was healthier, it was also more expensive than regular french fries.
It didn’t gain traction with consumers and was discontinued in 2014.
This further shows the importance of running pricing tests and letting your audience know how much you’re selling your product.
Note: Much more than how much an item is sold, there’s the perception element pricing gives to your product.
In most cases, if you price your product low, potential customers could view it as cheap and low quality. If you price it higher than the competition, it could be viewed as pricey or luxury.
The trick with pricing is this, don’t just slap an amount on your product; it’s good to research the competition and see how they price their product, but more than that, run pricing A/B tests and see how your ideal customer reacts to it.
This way, you’ll arrive at a better amount that helps with revenue, and it’s a good fit for your audience.
Note: many eCommerce businesses consistently offer discounts to drive product sales. As a sales strategy, this is bad for revenue and profit margins.
Offering discounts to first-time buyers to get that sale and have them experience your product is good, but the question remains, when do you draw the line and sell your product at full price?
This is answered in our article that goes into depth on how to stay on brand with discounts and promotions.
Here’s how Amazon runs a pricing experiment by comparing similar products for site visitors;
1 refers to the product’s original price the user searches for, highlighted in red.
2 refers to a different item that does the same thing, which is also highlighted in red.
Promotion means marketing, the final piece that ties up the marketing mix.
You might have a fantastic product, list it in the best place (online and offline), and have a reasonable price point, but if your ideal audience doesn’t know about it, you’re going to make little to no sales.
While planning promotions, you’ve got to factor in where your ideal customer hangs out. There’s no need to run Tiktok ads because it’s the whole rave this moment while your customers hang out on Twitter.
That’s a waste of your advertising budget.
Just like with every piece of the marketing mix, a lot of thought precedes action here.
Also, promotion can be online same as offline.
Here are common channels you can use to promote your products to your ideal audience;
- Direct mail
- Influencer marketing
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
See this example from Adidas, running a PPC campaign;
Here’s another example of the brand JustPaddles promoting their product to their email list on the 4th of July;
The next section deals with bringing everything together and developing your marketing strategy.
How To Use The 4Ps of Marketing In Your Marketing Strategy
Take your time and study every successful marketing strategy and campaign you know of, and you’ll notice that they are rooted in the marketing mix at their core.
Suppose you want to do the same for your business; here’s how you can have the 4Ps of marketing as the backbone of your strategy.
The first thing you need to do is think through your product. Generally, successful products fill a need in the life of the intended audience or provide a novel experience. You need to identify which your product does.
After identifying that your product is customer-fit (fills an obvious need or provides a novel experience), the next factor to look at in the marketing mix is the price of your product. Pricing can make or break your product.
What you’re considering here is not the amount on the product but the perception your ideal audience has when they look at your product. Does it scream luxury, or do they think it’s cheap and low-quality because the price is cheaper?
To win here, you’ll need to run polls and surveys to get feedback on the price perception.
You’ve come this far in getting a fantastic product and good price perception; placement is the next factor in the marketing mix to consider.
Placement refers to identifying where your ideal customer likes to hang out and shop for products similar to yours.
Placement is not just online; it could be offline as well.
The last factor in the marketing mix is promotion. Promotion is how you get the word out to your ideal customer that you’ve got the product that takes care of their wants and needs.
Promotion is not just about buying media (Facebook ads or PPC). In a broader perspective, it covers getting the right message to the right audience using paid media.
This is because it’s possible to get your message wrong and your audience wrong, and that messes everything up.
People, Process, and Physical Evidence: the extended marketing mix.
Since the 4Ps were popular in the 1960s, other Ps have been introduced to strengthen and improve the marketing mix.
This refers to the people in your business who act as your product’s face. They represent your product to your customers and prospective customers. For many companies, this will be the customer service department and sales, but it’s much more.
Looking at the current marketing trends, people here include influencers for your products, brand ambassadors, etc.
This refers to logistics. A significant advantage for any eCommerce company is to have fast logistics and processes that allow them to deliver products to customers on time.
This is good for businesses because it allows them to build loyalty and stay top of mind amongst their customers.
This is where a business like Amazon thrives. They’ve got fantastic turnover time for delivering products.
This covers where the product/service is being delivered from (website and offline inclusive). As a business, on your website, you want your ‘About section’ to have details about your executives, key employees, your physical location, and other information that inspire trust.
Offline, if your business has retail stores, you want to ensure your physical environment is clean and refreshing. How your physical environment is that’s the same perception walk-in customers will have of your business.
This is critical because site visitors make decisions to buy from you or not based on what they can see.
Final Thoughts On The 4Ps Of Marketing
Marketing has evolved over the years since the marketing mix concept became popular.
There has been the addition of 3 extra Ps, and as the industry progresses, there will be more additions.
Whether you’ve been in business for decades or just starting, having a great product is good, but that’s not all there is to make sales. Finding the right price, knowing where your ideal audience hangs out, and promotion strategy is essential to seeing a lot of sales.
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