The four P’s of marketing

January 2, 2013

By John Foust | AdLibs™

Marketing is not a one-note tune. In fact, most marketing textbooks feature meticulous descriptions of the Four P’s of marketing—four elements, which work together in the creation of a successful campaign. If any one of the four is lacking, failure is a likely possibility.
Media salespeople should have a fundamental understanding of these Four P’s. Here’s a quick look:
Product: This represents the product or service offered to consumers. If the product is something that the public would like to own, there is a ready-made marketplace.
I must mention that there is a big difference between a want and a need. Just because someone needs a product or service doesn’t mean that he or she will want to buy it. And just because that person needs a particular product doesn’t mean that any brand in that category will do.
You may need basic transportation, but you want a certain kind of sports car. You may need athletic shoes, but you want Nikes. You may need a house, but you want to live in a particular neighborhood.
Price: Think of the classic TV show “The Price is Right.” Pricing strategies create delicate balances. From the seller’s perspective, pricing should meet desired profit margins. From the consumer’s point of view, a price that seems too high for perceived value will seem out of line. And a price that is too low for perceived value will suggest poor quality.
Whatever the price, discounts can be offered to boost sales.
Place: This concerns distribution. Where can consumers find the product? Can they try it on or test drive it in a local store, then buy it and take it home? Do they have to order it—in the store or online? How will they receive it? Does the store have convenient hours? What if inventories are low and the product is out of stock? If it has to be ordered, how long will delivery take?
Product availability is a huge key. Many a sale has been lost because of distribution delays.
Promotion: Essentially, promotion is communication. How do you let your target audience know about the advantages of the product or service?
Here’s where advertising enters the picture. Promotion is one piece of the marketing puzzle. And advertising is one component of promotion—just as public relations, special events and sponsorships are components of promotion.
Recent textbooks have added a fifth P to the formula: People. Without adequate customer service, all of the other P’s don’t add up to a hill of beans or—ahem—peas.
Sadly, some smaller businesses have little or no understanding of the marketing P’s. Of course, they know the importance of each individual element, but they don’t see the connections. That’s where you can help them see the big picture—and set reasonable expectations for their advertising.
After all, the best ad campaign in the world can’t sell a product that is not available or priced incorrectly or lacking in customer service. © John Foust 2013. All rights reserved.

John Foust has conducted training programs for thousands of newspaper advertising professionals. Many ad departments are using his training videos to save time and get quick results from in-house training. E-mail for information

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