What Is Marketing?
Published on September 13, 2017 in Marketing
Marketing is a probably a familiar term, but what does it mean? Marketing is a business discipline, like accounting, sales, or programming. Marketers use a variety of strategies to communicate a brand’s value to the customer. Marketing uses digital and traditional techniques to capture the attention of a target audience, influence buying decisions, and grow brand advocates.
Marketing Mix: The 4 P’s of Marketing
Marketing covers a broad range of strategies including: developing the product or service concept, identifying who is likely to purchase it, promoting it, and supporting customers throughout the purchase process.
The 4 P’s of marketing are a great starting point for evaluating what’s working and making the necessary changes to meet your business goals. The 4 P’s, sometimes called the marketing mix, include: product, place, price, and promotion.
Your products and services define your business and are the heart of your brand. Developing your product/services means determining:
- The target audience demographic
- Customer’s needs, or pain points
- Features and benefits of the product/service that address needs
- Unique benefits of your solution compared to competition
- Results customers can expect
Starting with a good product definition is essential before you move on to place, price, and promotion. If sales are not what you expected, or if people don’t seem to understand the value of your solution, strengthen your product definition so you can clarify messaging and offers.
The 2nd P is for place, and answers the questions: where and how is your product/service is sold. Sometimes this is referred to as channel strategy. Channels may include:
- Sales reps
- Physical Store
- Online Stores, e.g. your website, Amazon, etsy, etc.
- Business Partners
Often organizations use multiple channels to sell their products. Think about the ways soda is distributed, eg vending machines, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Placement encompasses where your product/service is physically located in a store (by the check-out, on a shelf, customer service, etc), or placed in a magazine or on TV, how it’s showcased on your website, or where it appears on social media.
In today’s digital landscape, place is more important than ever. And, when you think about place consider not just where the actual sale will happen but how potential customers will find you and learn more about your product/service.
Most people research a purchase online before they engage with sales. Your website has the potential to provide information to help customers research and evaluate their buying decision. Consider how to provide the information needed, including details of your solution, competitor comparisons, case studies, and reviews.
Don’t forget, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and paid ads are important strategies to help increase visibility of your products/services with potential customers. If your website is not optimized for SEO and your competition is easily found, you may be losing out when it comes to place.
The 3rd P is for price. The price of your product/service should reflect the value perceived by your customers and characteristics of your brand. If your product was a car, would it be a Toyota, or a BMW?
The internet makes it easy for customers to find, compare, and evaluate solutions. If your price is significantly higher than your competitors, make it easy to understand why.
When developing pricing, start with competitor research and compare not only features but the sales process, channel, customer service, and after-purchase support. What does your price point offer that the competition doesn’t?
For example, a longer warranty or free customer support may support a higher price. Define the target audience, features, and benefits of your product that substantiate the price.
Don’t be afraid to test different price points through special offers, for example, a new customer offer, or an offer targeted to current customers. If a lower price doesn’t increase sales, return to place and product to look for issues that help explain why.
The 4th P is for promotion. Promotion is often what people are talking about when they use the term marketing, but all four P’s are essential to an effective marketing plan that delivers business results. How and where you promote your product/service is crucial to connecting with the right audience and can take many forms such as:
- Digital and print ads
- Search Strategies
- Social Media
- Events, e.g., trade shows, lunch-and-learns, product briefings
- One-on-one communications
- Direct Mail
As you consider the best ways to promote your product/service, be sure to address all phases of the purchase process: awareness, exploring, comparing, action, advocacy. Tactics that are effective in one phase are not always appropriate for the other phases.
For example, you’d expect to learn more about a product on a website, and not via a phone call. But if it’s a frustrating customer service situation, it will probably be a better experience to have a real person fix it, then send a customer searching for answers in the FAQs.
The Extended Marketing Mix: 3 More P’s.
In addition to the Marketing Mix’s 4 P’s – product, place, price, and promotion – there are also people, process, and physical evidence.
Let’s take a closer look.
The brand experience is all about people. Everyone from the CEO, to the sales rep, customer service, and the receptionist is representing the brand to your customers.
Your brand is reflected in the values and policies you develop as an organization and the products and services you provide. The brand experience is captured in every customer and employee touchpoint. We see the brand in action though how employees speak, act, sell, support, and meet the organization’s goals.
For example, when you provide excellent service, you’re creating a positive experience for your customers. In return, your customers can become brand ambassadors and refer their friends to your business.
In the digital landscape, how your brand interacts with people is changing, too. Now interactions don’t just happen in person or through a phone call. Your customer service can happen through email, live messenger support chats, and social media. Equipping the people on your team through training, feedback, and salary structure and other incentives is a critical to brand and marketing success.
Without process, there’s chaos. Process addresses how we deliver products/services to the customer. Clear processes set expectations for employees and customers, create efficiency, and foster customer loyalty. Think about your sales and service delivery have you defined processes for:
- Service delivery
- Customer service, including complaints and bad reviews
- Payment Terms
Once you’ve clarified processes internally consider which should be represented on your website, contracts, and other printed materials. For example, e-commerce stores provide tracking information with status updates so the customer knows exactly what to expect from delivery to their front door, keeping them informed and part of the process.
Physical evidence refers to everything your customers see when interacting with your business including your office or store, your delivery vehicle, signage, ad placement, uniforms, and product packaging. For example, if you visit an office and the floors need vacuuming you might wonder what care and attention will be given to your project.
Sometimes providing “physical” evidence in the digital landscape can be tricky. You may have seen recent reports of customers boycotting businesses because their ads were placed on controversial websites. Reviews are sometimes challenging physical evidence that may be unfair, exaggerated, or untrue.
The best way to strengthen your brand reputation is to get feedback from a variety of sources, identify issues, and make changes to improve the customer experience. Use all of the information, reports, and analytics available to find trends and address them.
Digital Marketing Experts
At Strategy, we specialize in developing marketing strategies that deliver real results. If you need help determining how to adjust your marketing mix and want measurable results, contact Strategy today.