- The 4 Ps of marketing is a way of distilling the many aspects of marketing into four basic marketing pillars.
- Also known as the marketing mix, the 4 Ps represent product, price, place, and promotion.
- Even though the marketing landscape has changed significantly since the 4 Ps were introduced, the concepts are still relevant today.
If you’ve read any of my articles you know that I’m a huge fan of simplicity. That’s why I love the 4 Ps of marketing. It distills the $1 trillion marketing industry into four simple words: product, price, place, and promotion.
The four basic marketing pillars are all about getting the right product and message in front of the right people at the right moment. When you understand those four key elements of the marketing mix and how they relate to each other, you can make better marketing decisions.
Read on to learn what the 4 Ps of marketing are, why they matter, and how they influence each other.
What are the 4 Ps of marketing?
4 Ps of Marketing
The 4 Ps of marketing (also referred to as the marketing mix) is a managerial approach to marketing that was first introduced and popularized by Harvard University professors James Culliton and Neil Borden in the 1960s.
The 4 Ps stand for:
- Product: What you are selling. It could be a physical product line within a physical store or marketing tools and services through a website. You need to identify what customers want within your target market is and how your product fulfills their needs or wants.
- Price: The amount you will charge for your product. This depends on what the market will bear, as well as your costs of production and distribution.
- Place: You need to determine where you will sell your product or service. This includes deciding which channels (retailers, online, etc.) to use and whether to sell through intermediaries, large third-party retailers like Amazon, or go direct to the consumer.
- Promotion: The marketing methods you use to get your product in front of potential buyers. This includes SEO, advertising, social media, public relations, etc.
When it was initially introduced, the marketing model of the 4 Ps was used to help marketing management identify any obstacles that would prevent people from purchasing their products. Today, people, procedure, and real-world evidence are used by marketing teams as extensions of the original 4 Ps.
Now that we have an overview of the 4 Ps of marketing, let’s look at how to use each of them to effectively develop a marketing plan. Even though the concepts are simple, using them in your marketing campaigns requires strategic action.
Product – the first P of the marketing mix
In order to effectively sell a product or service, you must first understand it. And that means much more than simply understanding what it does. You also need to know:
- Who your target market is
- What customer needs or wants the product fulfills
- Which features and benefits your product has
- What the life-cycle of your product looks like
Without this information, it’s difficult to determine whether potential customers will widely adopt a new product or service. Your product either needs to meet existing demand or create demand that didn’t previously exist.
The iPhone is a good example of a product that checks both boxes. When Apple first introduced it, no one had seen anything like it. It created demand for mobile phones that could also play music, install apps, etc. Now Apple releases new models of the iPhone each year to meet the demand they created.
You must thoroughly understand your product to craft messaging that resonates with your target audience and compels them to purchase.
Deep product knowledge also helps you build a digital marketing strategy that differentiates you from competitors who offer similar products or services.
Price – the second P of the marketing mix
The second P of marketing encompasses your pricing strategy. You need to consider what your target customer will accept as a fair price, the perceived value of the product, as well as your costs to produce, market, and distribute it.
There are a few different pricing models you can use:
Create a high-quality product that allows you to charge a higher price than your competitors. Lexus is an example of this strategy. Their vehicles are considered to be luxurious, allowing them to charge far more than the price of more basic vehicles.
Position your product at a lower price in order to gain market share. This is a strategy often used by Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands like Dollar Shave Club. Their products may not be the absolute highest quality, but they do the job and are significantly cheaper than premium products.
Offer your product at different price points to appeal to multiple segments of the market. This is common practice among brands that have high-end and low-end products, or products that offer more features with each step up in pricing. SaaS companies often use this strategy to accommodate the different needs of small and large businesses.
When deciding on your pricing strategy, consider several factors. First and foremost, you should account for the cost of producing your product. To thrive as a business, you need a sustainable profit margin and low customer acquisition cost.
Additionally, you need to consider how you want your target audience to view you. Do you want to be seen as a luxury brand or do you want to compete based on price? Your ultimate goal in this area will play a part in determining the right prices.
Place – the third P of the marketing mix
The third P of marketing is about where you will sell your product or service. This encompasses both your distribution channels and your place in the market. Your distribution channels are the avenues through which you reach your target market.
There are three basic types of distribution channels:
Direct to Consumer (DTC)
Selling products or services directly to the consumer without using any intermediaries. This is common among online brands and can be done through a website, social media marketing, or email marketing.
Indirect to Consumer (I2C)
Selling products or services through an intermediary, such as a retailer or wholesaler. This is the most common type of distribution channel and gives brands access to a larger customer base.
Direct to Business (D2B)
Selling products or services to businesses, rather than consumers. This is common among B2B brands and can be done through a variety of channels, such as telemarketing, trade shows, or content marketing.
The distribution and marketing channels you choose will depend in some part on your target audience. For example, if your primary audience is those over the age of 60, marketing on TikTok or LinkedIn doesn’t make much sense because individuals in that demographic rarely use those platforms.
What you sell also has a significant influence on the distribution and marketing channels you choose. For example, if you sell heavy industrial equipment, an ecommerce business model probably isn’t the most effective way to do business, given both the size and cost of the product.
Promotion – the fourth P of the marketing mix
The fourth P of marketing encompasses the specific marketing efforts you choose to promote your products or services. This includes your marketing mix and your marketing channels. It also includes things like:
- Lead generation
- Brand awareness
- Target audience
As part of the promotional process, identify your target audience, and use market research to build buyer personas around each segment in that audience. Then, craft messaging that resonates with the individual personas. Your marketing communications need to address the desires, pain points, and goals of the target audience and show how your product or service can help them.
For example, you may choose search engine optimization (SEO) as one of your primary promotional strategies. This would involve optimizing your web pages and creating content around specific keywords used by your primary audience. You also might utilize advertising on social media platforms as a way of narrowly targeting specific demographics.
Technology has changed, the marketing mix has not
The marketing landscape has changed dramatically since the 4 Ps of marketing were first introduced in the 1960s. Since then, Boom and Bitner introduced 3 additional marketing mix elements: people, process, and physical evidence. No doubt there will be more Ps introduced as we launch headfirst into the metaverse.
Whether you operate a global enterprise, or a small business, or if you’re engaged in direct marketing, personal selling, or other promotional activities, you still need to know how to get your product into your customers’ hands. To do that, your marketing activities and sales promotions must be focused around your audience.