As a successful marketing professional, you know the importance of following the marketing process when developing a plan to market a new product or service. These steps include a situational analysis, marketing strategy, campaign development, an execution plan, and campaign measurement. It is during the campaign development phase when important marketing mix decisions are made, and it’s also when you should consider the four Ps of marketing.
What Are the Four Ps of Marketing?
According to Sarah White in Principles of Marketing (2012), “Product, price, place, and promotion make up the marketing mix, the controllable elements of a product’s marketing plan” (p.355). Whether you’re an aspiring future marketer or seasoned professional, you must know how to apply the four Ps in the marketing process to ensure the marketing campaign is successful. Let’s take a deeper look at the 4 Ps of marketing in the marketing mix.
Defining the 4 Ps
When you think of product, think about the product, its services, quality, design, features, brand name, packaging, etc., as it relates to a targeted customer. “The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines the term as a ‘bundle of attributes (features, functions, benefits, and uses) capable of exchange and use; usually a mix of tangibles and intangible forms.’ Thus a product may be a physical entity, a service, an idea, or any of the three. An organization, person, place, or idea can be a product” (White 2012, p.64). When considering product, keep in mind that you have to design products that offer value to customers and ensure the product has enough benefits for what customers are willing to pay.
In terms of price, think about what your list price will be for a product. Think about discounts, allowances, terms and conditions, and payment periods. “The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines price as the formal ratio that indicates the quantities of money, goods, or services needed to acquire a given quantity of goods and services” (White, 2012, p.128).
When you think of place, think about the various activities the company undertakes to make the product accessible and available (Kotler, 1997). According to Sarah White (2012), “Today, goods originate in locations all around the world, travel through distribution channels that may be physical or virtual, and arrive when customers can take possession of them physically or virtually” (p.96).
In considering promotion, think about integrated marketing communications—that is, all the paid and unpaid forms of advertising and promotion the company undertakes to communicate and promote its products. On this, Sarah White notes, “Most marketing activity leads to communication activity of one kind or another, ranging from traditional advertising to cutting-edge conversations via social media” (2012, p.166).
The four P’s involve complex processes that intertwine, inherently relating to and coordinating with each other.
With the accessibility of the internet, we catch the attention of consumers using digital forms such as social media and content marketing, but it’s worth noting that traditional marketing media still exist, including print ads, billboards, radio, and television. As consumers, think about the number of advertisements we see in a day. Agency Red Crow Marketing estimates that most Americans are exposed to 4,000-10,000 advertising messages every day. In the form of commercials, print ads, brand labels, Facebook ads, Google ads, ads on your phone, and more, companies leverage the promotion of their products.
How to Apply the Four Ps of the Marketing Mix
Let’s take a look at a real-life example of the marketing mix. Pepsi’s offering in the national and local restaurant markets can be divided into the four Ps as follows:
- Product: Pepsi-branded fountain, bottle, and can drinks
- Price: Competitive per-gallon pricing, discounts, loaned equipment, free repair service
- Place: Local and national restaurant channels – all local and national accounts
- Promotions: Nationally advertised brands, local and national advertising and promotions designed to drive sales, traffic, check, beverage incidence, profits and revenues
This example shows that the four Ps, though straightforward in definition, involve complex processes that intertwine, inherently relating to and coordinating with each other. You cannot have a successful marketing plan without a complete marketing mix. To learn more about marketing theory and practice, explore the components of a marketing education.
Written by Bill Davis MA, CM, CDM and Dr. Avisha Sadeghinejad, Program Chair in the Forbes School of Business and Technology™.
American Marketing (n.d.) Retrieved August 17, 2017 from https://www.ama.org/AboutAMA/Pages/Definition-of-Marketing.aspx
Gbr, A (2014). The 4 P's of Marketing [Video file]. Retrieved August 17, 2017 from https://youtu.be/vNpdLktfE2Q
Kotler, P. (1997). Marketing management, analysis, planning, implementation, and control (Ninth ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Simon and Schuster.
Red Crow Marketing Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved August 17, 2017, from http://www.redcrowmarketing.com/2015/09/10/many-ads-see-one-day/
White, S. (2012). Principles of marketing (1st ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.