Back to Marketing Basics with the Four Ps

With the explosion of digital marketing tools, it’s easy to get lost amidst the choices. Scoping out new marketing technologies can be exciting. On the other hand, finding the right tool can also be overwhelming, time-consuming and frustrating.

Don’t let the wide array of shiny tech objects result in a shortsighted marketing strategy. Take a deep breath and get back to marketing basics. A wonderful place to start is with the four famous Ps: product, place, price and promotion.

The Four Ps model supports one of the standard definitions of marketing: Putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. Sounds simple, right? We all know it’s easier said than done, with lots of hard work and research required. But you’re a marketing pro, and you’re up to the challenge! 

1| Product

Your product or service must meet a need, solve a problem or satisfy a desire for customers. You know that great feeling when you find exactly what you’re looking for – nothing more, nothing less? You can’t always find exactly what you’re looking for, though. Those gaps in the marketplace are golden opportunities, if you have the keen eyes to spot them.

Think carefully about the features you include or exclude. People don’t want to pay for features they don’t need, and they won’t buy at all if that must-have requirement is lacking. Conduct your market research thoroughly on the front end, and think outside the box.

Purposefully limit customers’ options. Business schools often teach an interesting case study about jams. When presented with 24 varieties of jam, customers showed lots of interest at the grocery store display. However, that interest did not convert well to sales. When customers had only six varieties, sales were dramatically higher! Too many options results in analysis paralysis. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding how many colors, models or service plans to offer. Choice is good – but only to a point.

2| Place

Place is where and how people purchase your offering. Many questions go into the concept of place, including:

  • Will you need a sales force to interact with wholesale or end customers?
  • Will you operate brick and mortar stores or work with retail distribution partners – or both?
  • Will your product only be available for purchase online, either directly through your website or through online partners?
  • Will you sell your product locally, regionally, nationally or around the globe?
  • If your product is physically sitting in a grocery store, convenience store, or other retail shop, envision which exact location would work best. What part of the store? Which shelf, end cap or special display? And, will you have to pay for that placement?

3| Price

If only creating the perfect product were enough! You also have to determine the right price. You must cover the cost of producing the product or delivering the service as well as your overhead costs. What kind of profit margin are you expecting beyond costs?

Your product’s features as well as your competition will greatly impact your decisions about price. You may be able to price your offering higher than your competition – if your product is notably better, and the features are in demand. However, you may benefit from having a lower-end product that you can sell for less than your competitor’s model but achieve a greater volume.

Pricing structure can also be a key differentiator. Instead of one-time purchases, can you set yourself apart (and potentially increase your revenue) by offering an ongoing subscription service, such as for replacement accessories?

Also, what kind of special pricing discounts might you extend to certain customers? Who qualifies for discounts and how often?

4| Promotion

This final P is frequently misunderstood. Rather than referring to sales discounts and coupons, think of it more as how you promote and market your product or service. How will you reach your target customers so that they are aware of your offering? When is the right time to reach prospects, especially if your product is seasonal?

Not every product will benefit from (or can afford) billboards, radio spots, TV ad campaigns or fancy catalogs. However, these traditional promotion methods can be perfect for some brands or at certain times.

Of course, you have plenty of digital promotion options at your fingertips. With the advanced targeting available, understanding your user personas is a must. Always keep studying your actual customers to ensure that your personas are aligned, or revise them accordingly. 

Without a sound core strategy, all the marketing tools in the world cannot help you for long. Start with the Four Ps marketing model. Then you can streamline your search for the tools to help you execute your vision.