If you’re ready to take your marketing seriously, you’ll need to start with a marketing plan. A classic marketing concept called “The Marketing Mix” or “The 4 P’s” of Marketing is a perfect place to start.
The original concept of the 4 P's marketing mix
The original marketing mix, or 4 P's, as originally proposed by marketer and academic Jerome E. McCarthy, provides a framework for marketing decision-making. Effectively summing up the 4 pillars of the business cycle, McCarthy's marketing mix has since become one of the most enduring and widely accepted frameworks in business.
The essential base ingredients of the 4 P’s are: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. While this combination doesn’t appear to be rocket science, a company’s ability or lack thereof to embrace and implement the 4 P’s can make all the difference between thriving and failing as a business.
Each of the 4 P’s build upon and interact with one another, and are governed by both internal and external factors within the business itself, and our ever-changing marketplace. The 4 P’s of marketing primary purpose is to help us take into consideration potential roadblocks to widespread product adaptation and ongoing success.
So let’s get to them, shall we?
4 P's of marketing in simple and familiar terms:
A PRODUCT is a service or good offered to meet consumer interest or demand. It could come in the form of occupational therapy or a fidget spinner - choices are only limited to the imagination, BUT, are highly dependent on marketplace curiosity or need.
PRICE is the cost people pay for a product. This includes base costs (materials, manufacturing, and shipping) plus expenses (rent, office supplies, healthcare, etc.). While you should always look to the competition, a smart business will tap into what people will actually pay for it. That's the only thing that counts. If you can't rise above your bottom line and make your target profit, then it’s a losing proposition.
PLACE is the “home” where the product resides, and that “home” can live in many different channels, such as a physical store display, a newspaper, radio or TV ad, or a website or blog spotlight. Really, a place is anywhere you can get your product in front of your target customers that compliments your budget, including the price point.
PROMOTION is product exposure and public relations efforts via advertising (through the channels mentioned above) as well as word of mouth, direct mail, email marketing and social media. Promotion is a communication tool that encapsulates the first 3 P’s by putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time, with the goal of it being irresistible to customers.
The 4 P's example and template for a service business
The Marketing Mix of “HVAC Plumber” reflects a real life example of how a service company covers the 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) in their marketing strategy.
“HVAC plumber” (a fictitious company) provides heating and cooling services in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.
HVAC Plumber marketing mix elements strategy and example:
HVAC Plumber offers industry standard services, but also innovates to provide more value to our customers and captures more of the market. We are insured, licensed and provide warranties for our work. Our high quality services and focus on a pleasant customer experience helps us get repeat clients, referrals, and builds our reputation. Also, our motto is: “Leave the place cleaner than we found it” - so you’ll always see us with a broom in our hands before we leave.
At present, the following are the main categories of HVAC Plumber products:
- Furnace installation and repair
- Water heater maintenance, installation and repair
- Air conditioning installation, maintenance and repair
- Complete plumbing system design and installation
- Drain, sink and toilet unclogging and jet rodding and repairs
Our extra value added products:
- Emergency services
- Indoor air quality testing services
- Air duct and dryer vent cleaning services
- Warranty services
- Equipment sales
Our reputation and successful marketing generates more demand than we can handle, so it allows us to charge premium for our services. We train our service technicians to upsell our other services. We also have a customer loyalty program in place to reward our long-term clients with better rates and provide coupons to first time clients. We also seek partnerships with organizations such as: homeowner associations, insurance companies, builders and general contractors, and offer exclusive pricing options based on quantity.
The company has offices in downtown Chicago, but walk-in customers are unusual. We are physically represented by our company vans, uniforms and warranty stickers. We consistently attend industry trade shows, and belong to the Chicago Chamber of Commerce.
We nurture partnerships with our equipment vendors, participate in their trainings, and have certifications, which allow us to be listed “licensed technicians” on their websites. We serve the Chicagoland Area, which is about a 30 mile radius from our warehouse, but we do make travel exceptions for long-term clients and bigger projects.
Our company website is the most important communication tool, and is a place where our clients learn about our services and make initial contact. We invest a great deal of money and time to keep it updated and useful to our audience. We plan to expand our website to include ecommerce and make some of the package services, equipment and accessories available for purchase online. None of our competitors are doing this at the moment, so we’ll take advantage of being pioneers in this regard.
Most new business comes through our website and we focus all of our promotion efforts to drive more traffic to it. Our promotional mix is as follows:
- Search engine optimization
- Paid traffic
- Social media marketing
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
Our value proposition statement
HVAC Plumber is an industry-leading HVAC and plumbing service provider serving the Chicago area since 1999. We specialize in new installations, repairs, and 24 hour emergency services.
Start with 4 P's of marketing template
Check out our 4 P's of marketing template to help you work through your first few ideas.
But why stop there?
The 7 P’s of marketing mix
Since the inception of the original 4 P’s of marketing, marketing experts have expounded upon the mix to include three additional P’s to enhance brand exposure and sales performance.
These additional P’s include: People, Process and Physical evidence.
PEOPLE have always been at the epicenter of the business world. Whether it’s the company visionaries, the movers and shakers, or the daily doers, unless (or until) commerce is fully automated, you’re only as good as the people who keep the business operational and flowing. And believe you me, customers are quick to notice when there’s a glitch in the matrix.
PROCESSES ensure consistent service delivery to every customer, at any time of day, on any given day. And, a successful business incorporates scenarios where customer preferences can be accommodated to provide them a unique experience.
PHYSICAL EVIDENCE – Almost all services include physical proof of a transaction, even if the bulk of what the consumer bought isn’t tangible. It’s something the customer can hold onto and recall about working with you. Physical evidence also describes consistent branding across communication channels.
How can you actually use this?
How the 4 P’s apply in today’s online marketing
The how’s and why’s of how we approach marketing have become much more dynamic since the inception of the internet. However, the driving factor is still and should always remain: PEOPLE. Actually, it’s more about people than ever before. Having an honest marketing approach has never been more important and is both emotionally and financially rewarding if you do it right.
PRODUCT and how it lives online versus the shelf
It seems like not much has changed as far as the product or services goes, right? Wrong. No matter what type of product you offer, the landscape shifted majorly to the consumer benefit. The majority of customers now prefer to shop online, and perform in-depth research before making their buying decisions.
Besides the original, product-related marketing factors such as: product quality and design, branding, packaging, returns and guarantees, in your marketing plan, you should also consider NEW factors.
User-centric customer support - your product now has a digital voice. And it must talk to your audience and be both personalized and timely. Not only across all the common channels such as phone or email, but also should be proactively involved in social media. Resource: Social media customer service 101: the beginner's guide
New PRICING models to consider
Pricing your product or service is never an easy task. It sure helps if you can find a unique product positioning on the market, otherwise you fall into price comparison wars with your competition. And, to compare prices has never been easier than today. The original Marketing Mix suggests considering pricing strategy and tactics, discount structure, payment terms and options for both customers and distributors.
Competition pricing research - this is an in-depth review of the pricing models of your direct competitors. In comparing products, you should focus worldwide. With local services, of course, should compare within your own service area. Remember that you don’t have to anchor your pricing based on competition, but it helps to know the market.
Shipping and handling strategy - it’s not an obvious, but very important factor in online sales conversions no matter the item price. Offering free shipping is one of the most effective purchase incentives. Resource: How to offer free shipping and still make money
"9 out of 10 online shoppers consider free shipping as one of the main reasons why they shop at a particular online store. To offer free shipping is not a new thing, thanks to Amazon it became essential running an online store. The main question now is how to make it profitable. It looks impossible, but with the right approach - offering it most, not all, of the time, setting a flat shipping or order threshold, it is possible."
Diana Bukevicius - Scube Marketing
Product positioning - I know I’m repeating myself, but I have to. Positioning is strongly engraved into each pillar of The Marketing Mix. As far as pricing goes, having strong niche positioning eliminates the number of competitors that your product or service can be compared with and it opens up an opportunity to go for value pricing. Resource: Everything you need to know about pricing
Upsell strategy - this is an underestimated source of cash flow. It’s always easier to sell to the people that already bought something from you and were happy with the product. It can be an additional items or warranties, maintenance or a product upgrade.
PLACE for marketing is now on the mobile screens
Back in the 1940’s “place” was all about brick and mortar. Location, distribution, and logistics are still part of the process, but it heavily shifted from the marketing department to operations. No doubt you’ll boost sales if your product gets featured in physical Walmart stores, but you also can sell at Walmart Marketplace online with way less effort for the approval process. Same goes for Amazon. Online selling has undoubtedly taken over as the place to peddle your wares. Resource: How to sell on Walmart marketplace in 7 easy steps
Website - this is by far your most important marketing piece. It’s your 24/7 storefront and your sales rep that never sleeps. Any marketing efforts that you take will end up on your website. I mentioned 3rd party sources like Walmart Marketplace or Amazon, but I still highly recommend you focus on your own website first and use other sources as secondary. Why? Because you own it and you control it.
Any 3rd party retailer could change their policies tomorrow and you might be out of business. Plus, websites grow more powerful over time if supported by thoughtful and consistent marketing decisions. When you build your website, the decisions on design, structure and content should be made based on your promotional strategies.
3rd party platforms - Your audience is on or a few of these platforms already. Identify those platforms and utilize them. It can take the form of direct eCommerce platforms like Amazon, or it can be social channels like LinkedIn or Facebook etc.
PROMOTION is in your inbox
Search engine optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing and paid search. I hear that Super Bowl ads are worth their weight in gold, but if you can afford a Superbowl ad, you are on the wrong blog!
Jokes aside, make sure your marketing strategy is built around driving traffic to your website and converting it to leads or sales.
Traffic generation - getting targeted visitors to come to your website is the ultimate #1 goal. There are numerous ways you can achieve that, and they’re all worth considering:
Search engine optimization (SEO) - is the practice driving traffic to your website through organic search engine results by optimizing (making relevant) your website for targeted keyphrases. SEO is an ongoing process that requires patience and consistent efforts.
Paid search - in other words - “bought traffic.” Platforms like Google AdWords, Bing Ads or Facebook Ads allows you to buy highly targeted traffic in an auction-type of fashion. It’s typically based on “per click” pricing, where each visitors cost you x amount of dollars.
Social media marketing - is the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites. If you sell to people then it’s a great idea to invest time and effort (and sometimes money) into one or several social media sites. That’s where the people hang-out these days. Resource: Welcome to the beginner's guide to social media!
Email marketing - is the modern equivalent of oldschool direct mail, I believe. Even if one more email in our inbox is the last thing we want or need - email is still one of the best performing marketing tools. Resource: A beginner’s guide to successful email marketing Resource: A comprehensive guide to email marketing platforms
Conversion rate optimization - converting website visitors into leads is the ultimate goal #2 to achieve. Firstly, to be able to calculate conversions you need to have Google Analytics or other tracking system integrated to your website. Conversion rate optimization are an ongoing process where you optimize your website and measure the outcome looking for the optimal version of each page. Resource: Conversion optimization made simple: a step-by-step guide Resource: Learn Google Analytics with free online courses
2 extra P’s from Angle180
The team at Angle180 takes the “4 P's of marketing (Plus 3)” two steps further, to include Positioning and Positive Reviews.
Positioning - again and again. Positioning is a fundamental piece of your marketing plan and your overall business success. Essentially, if you answer all the questions related to each P you’ll arrive to your business positioning statement.
Positioning is how you differentiate your product or service from your competitors in your niche market.
A good positioning statement is the first thing people read when they visit your website. Typically, it’s a 7-10 word sentence on your Home Page that succinctly answers:
There’s a science behind positioning, and it’s wise to research how others in your field describe themselves.
Positive reviews - positive online reviews are pretty self explanatory, but I recommend creating a strategy for collecting positive reviews, as well as dealing with negative ones.
Unfortunately, it’s human nature to take positive experiences for granted and feel revengeful about the negative ones.
Reviews definitely affect local search rankings and customer buying decisions.
Local consumer review survey by BrightLocal reveals the importance of reviews:
97% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2017
85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
Responding to reviews is more important than ever, with 30% naming this as key when judging local businesses
4 P's of Marketing Mix in a slideshow presentation (PPT) and downloadable PDF
Our conclusion? The original 4 P’s of the marketing mix withstand the test of time
There is one common trait to all classic things - they never get old or obsolete. So, even with all the changes that technology has brought us, the 80 year concept of The 4 P’s of marketing mix are still relevant and applicable today. Marketing platforms and tools have certainly changed, but the foundation is rock solid. And, let’s hope it always remains personalized and people-driven.