Marketing – It’s no Snickerdoodle

Oct 1, 2009  |  By Civilian  |  

If you’ve ever taken a basic marketing course, you’re probably familiar with the four Ps. You know – the marketing mix: product, pricing, placement, and promotion. When you mix these ingredients well, it’s a recipe for success. But if you get one wrong, it’s like substituting salt for sugar. That’s a recipe for disaster.

I learned about the four Ps in each of my marketing courses in college. The mix is a great guideline. It’s simple. A solid foundation. Easy to remember. Widely known.

When I started graduate school, it got complicated. The same old four Ps were still there, but the professor decided to add a fifth. Then he added two Cs. Suddenly the guideline changed. The added depth meant marketing recipes could be more complex. No more sugar cookies. We were talking iced double chocolate chip macadamia cookies.

We had more flavors to deal with and more ingredients to balance. We moved from marketing basics to expanded marketing basics. Those expanded basics go something like this:

Product. Your product should start with your customers and their needs. You could build a paddleboat for giraffes, but what customers have that need? Customers’ needs have to be met in order for sales to start. Additionally, the product has to follow regulations and meet engineering requirements. So no teleporters into Fort Knox, even if customers have that need.

Price. The price doesn’t always have to be low for people to start buying. If your product is positioned on prestige, like a Rolex or a Rolls Royce, then high price is a good thing. Generally, a good price to set is where you maximize profit. Unless you have other goals.

Packaging. Would you rather buy a cell phone that arrives in a sleek box with protective plastic casing or in a dirty gym sock? The packaging can say just as much about a company as a Web site or customer service representative. It’s an essential part of marketing and branding.

Promotion. Nobody will buy the product if they don’t know about it. An effective strategically integrated mix of communications is all it takes. Balance a coherent blend of advertising, public relations, branding, customer service, direct marketing, and anything else that proves to be a good investment in communications. You have to get the word out before you can get the revenue in.

Placement. Consumers go to shoe stores for shoes, not buckets of nails. Products and services have to be available in logical locations. Where do your customers go for products and services similar to yours? Sales are a lot easier and more effective if you reach your customer where they are, instead of forcing them to go somewhere new or illogical.

Consumers. Know everything about them. Gone are the days of relying solely on simple demographics like age and income. Today’s consumer is savvy and sophisticated. Think like they think, talk like they talk, do what they do. Know why they buy what they buy. Use that knowledge to guide the rest of your marketing mix.

Competition. What’s the outside environment like? Take a look at direct and indirect competitors to gauge whether or not your product or service will hit the market at the right time. Look for trends and avoid fads.

With the basics in place, you should be on your way to a solid, objectives-focused marketing plan. Just look out for people who want to dip their fingers into your marketing mix. Some only want to taste the batter. Others truly want to help.

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