The marketing mix is the planned use of the elements of a marketing plan that can be controlled. The marketing mix is made up of the seven Ps, most commonly given as: product, price, promotion, place, process, physical evidence, people. In terms of marketing, these seven Ps are always used – however, the seven Ps are sometimes used for other purposes such as product planning and so they may alter in some circumstances. This guide will focus on the seven Ps used in marketing.
Before deciding on the product you are going to concentrate on, you should always ensure that there is a place for it in the market. Many businesses have failed because they have decided that they are going to focus on one product without realising that no-one will be willing to buy it.
Remember that a product is not necessarily tangible – in terms of the seven Ps, a service would also constitute a product.
Price can be a sensitive aspect of the marketing mix, and especially so during unstable economic times. Customers are increasingly looking for the best deal they can get and with the increased popularity of price comparison websites, it is becoming ever easier for them to find the cheapest option. However, your price does not necessarily have to be the cheapest to be the best deal – you could add extra services or other options to compete.
Remember that however you price your product, it must remain profitable, if not directly then indirectly. Many companies sell a product at its cost price or below as a ‘loss leader’ in order to generate other, profitable sales.
Promotion is the aspect of the marketing mix that tells customers what they are being offered. This includes activities such as advertising, PR, sales, branding, corporate identity and special offers, among others. The main purpose of promotion is to gain the attention of potential customers while reminding current customers why they choose to purchase your product.
Good promotion should be about engagement, not broadcast – always ensure that you listen to what your customers want and respond accordingly. You should also ensure that you promote the reasons your product would be of benefit to a customer, not just the features of the product.
Place covers the place from which a customer buys a product, the way in which the product is sent to that place and how it is displayed to the customer. The product must be available at the right time in the right place. This means that good stock management is critical to your success – ensure that you don’t run out of a product but don’t stock an excess either as this will cost money.
When it comes to displaying a product, there are a whole range of techniques used to encourage consumers to make a purchase. This can include the anything from the overall layout of a shop to the shelf height at which a product is displayed.
Process refers to the service provided. The behaviour of those selling the product is hugely important to customer satisfaction. Customers don’t want to know the detail behind your processes; they just want processes that work. Keeping customers on hold over the phone or keeping them waiting in queues may cause them to turn elsewhere, as well as causing damage to your reputation should they advise others not to use your company.
Physical evidence is more applicable to services than products. Because services are intangible, customers cannot experience them until purchasing them (although for some services you may be able to offer a trial period). Physical evidence would be, for example, testimonials – proof that the service is worth purchasing.
You should also ensure that your premises and staff are neat, presentable and professional-looking – the appearance of all three will have an impact on the customer’s opinion of the company as a whole.
Any of your employees who come into contact with customers will make an impression – you will have to take care to ensure that it is the right one. Make sure that your staff are properly trained, motivated and have a good attitude. They must also be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about your product.
After-sale support can add a great deal of value to a product. This may become more important than price for your regular customers.
Creating the right mix
The elements of the marketing mix must be tweaked until a combination that serves the customer’s needs while at the same time generating optimum income can be found. The overall mix should be detailed in your marketing plan. Even after writing a full marketing plan, it is likely that it will go out of date very quickly, so you will need to ensure that you review it at least once a year, preferably more frequently.
If you find at any time that elements of your marketing mix are not having the correct effect, you should immediately look at the problem and take action.