In an ideal world, the 4 Ps of marketing might include ping pong tables, paid time off, perks, and parties. But while those might be fun to have in your office, they don’t exactly guide your sales strategy (okay, unless you’re selling ping pong tables).
That’s why the real 4 Ps in marketing are a bit more practical. And they were designed to help you engage your audience and increase sales.
In 1960, marketing professor Edmund Jerome McCarthy introduced the 4 Ps in his book, “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.” And they’ve stood the test of time almost 60 years later. Why? Because McCarthy took consumer behavior into account. He considered the four elements of marketing that affect how consumers value your brand and turned them into four invaluable tools that you can use to guide your marketing objectives.
This marketing mix is important because it helps give you a framework to ensure you have all your marketing basics covered. It also ensures that you're clear on how your product meets a specific customer need or demand.
Now, that we have the basics covered, let’s take a look at how the product, price, place, and promotion can help you market your business in new ways this year.
It starts with product: The tangible object or intangible service you’re selling to your customers. Under this umbrella, you’ll want to clearly convey the benefits of your products, which pain points they address, and what they can do for your customers. Maybe you offer exclusive features that your competitors don’t or special customer experiences that make your products more enjoyable to use.
Take luggage company Away, for instance. They offer modern, minimalist bags with unbreakable shells. And they use Instagram to showcase their aesthetically pleasing products.
You can always use Canva’sInstagram templates to create your own product-oriented social graphics, like with this Monochromatic Fashion Accessories Instagram Post template. It provides an eye-catching, minimalist backdrop on which you can place your own copy and product images. You can even share it with members of your team and collaborate on the design without leaving the platform.
Meanwhile, Airbnb provides a solid example of an intangible product. The home-sharing company offers hosts a streamlined platform through which they can rent out their properties to guests. And it keeps these hosts happy by constantly updating features like the reservation page and offering advice from hospitality gurus, as in this email newsletter:
The newsletter also serves to keep hosts connected, providing them with a built-in community of fellow customers who are going through the same experiences they are. Through this community, they can share their issues, concerns, and successes—learning from each other and providing feedback to improve the product along the way.
Price is more than a number. It doesn’t just cover how much you need to charge in order to make a return on your investment. It also takes into account how much customers are willing to pay for your product, what they perceive the value to be, and how your price stacks up against those of your competitors.
Glasses company Warby Parker, for example, built its brand on offering stylish products that don’t break the bank. In fact, the moment you hit the landing page for their Resort 2018 collection, you see a price right above the fold.
That probably wouldn’t be the case for a luxury brand like Chanel or Dior. But for Warby Parker, price is built right into their marketing strategy and materials.
You can also factor discounts and special offers into how you approach price. These further serve to provide value to customers and inform your marketing content. For example, Warby Parker might launch a sale for National Sunglasses Day (which is a thing, yes) or for the winter season when they might not be selling as many products.
This Canva template for a social media graphic provides a great jumping-off point for sharing your sale or updated price. The muted, pastel color palette and illustrated graphic helps catch the eye. On Canva’s platform, you can even update the color palette to fit your brand and insert your own logo. This way, when your design is passed around social media, every viewer will be able to associate it with your company.
This part involves how you will get your product to your customer. Where will they access and buy your goods? Will they go to your website, head to a third-party retailer like Amazon, or step inside your brick and mortar store? For this, it’s important to understand how your target audience researches their purchases and how they prefer to make the final sale.
Just look at direct-to-consumer brands like Harry’s and Glossier, which have totally revolutionized e-commerce in the last decade. By directly selling products to buyers, these brands can establish more personalized customer relationships and deliver goods faster than if they had a middleman. A recent study even found that 81% of consumers plan to shop from direct-to-consumer brands within the next five years.
That’s why Glossier runs Instagram ads that invite users to buy directly from their website. With the “Shop Now” call-to-action button, those users can even check out on the Glossier site without leaving the Instagram app. Evidently, the brand knows how and where to reach people with an interest in beauty products, and how to help them purchase quickly and easily.
You might also deliver products to consumers via a subscription service, like Dollar Shave Club does. In fact, they automatically send new razors and toiletries and customers so they don’t have to run to the store every time they need new supplies. And Dollar Shave Club cleverly incorporates this feature into its advertising by telling its followers how often they should replace their bath products.
You can create your own informative and inspirational social media graphics in Canva with templates like this one. Simply add your own motivational quote or educational fact to keep your audience on their toes. This one, in particular, pleases the eye with its black-and-white image framed by colorful geometric shapes.
The resulting graphics are helpful and informative for customers—and, of course, they might inspire prospective buyers to subscribe.
Finally, we’ve reached the P that might seem most obvious for your marketing mix: P romotion. That includes social outreach, influencer partnerships, flyers, billboards, and everything in between. It includes anything that helps you reach the right audience with the right product at the right time.
Take a look at the eco-friendly company, Boxed Water, which launched a user-generated content campaign. The brand empowers customers to post photos of their own Boxed Water with the hashtag #BetterPlanet. Select photos are then featured on the company’s website. For every post, Boxed Water also promises to plant two trees on your behalf. So far, they’ve planted over 612,000 trees and counting.
This marketing campaign ticks many boxes: It makes good on the company’s mission to promote sustainability; it builds a community of advocates and expands the brand’s audience; it generates free content on behalf of the brand; it proves that the company cares about the customer’s voice; it empowers customers to build a better world and give back to the environment.
This is just one example of a successful and multi-faceted campaign. Along with promoting a hashtag to use across social media, brands can also create graphic templates that customers can use to share their posts. These might incorporate the brand logo, brand colors, or a uniform frame within which they can share photos.
This Canva template, for instance, can be customized to your campaign and then distributed to influencers, advocates, and loyal followers. They can then either share it as is or personalize it with their own photos.
That’s right. There’s a fifth P. Well, not according to Edmund Jerome McCarthy. But if you look at any great marketing strategy, it’s always bolstered by the fifth P: People.
People meaning you: The brains behind the operation. And people meaning your audience: The flesh-and-blood humans who have real hopes, interests, and desires that you must appeal to.
Because we can break down marketing into helpful acronyms and catchy terms, but people lie at the heart of it.
So just keep that in mind when you embark on the journey of the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. Remember to make decisions based on your target audience and, ultimately, you’ll be primed to engage your customers and increase sales.
Maybe then you can start working on those ping pong tables, paid time off, perks, and parties.