When it comes to attracting and retaining the customers that are the lifeblood of every business, there are several tactics that marketers may put into practice to get the job done, such as digital and traditional advertising, direct response, special events, public relations and content marketing. But there are underlying issues that marketers need to address before they get to those tactics. Sorting through these issues will ensure a balanced mix of efforts that will do the optimal job of converting customers and driving top- and bottom-line growth. Divided into distinct categories, they are known as the Seven Ps of Marketing. Each should be carefully considered to achieve effective marketing.
The “Ps” initially began with only four, which were instrumental in ensuring a balanced marketing mix for products. They were later expanded to seven as a means of addressing marketing mix considerations for the service industry.
- Product - Marketers should always be assessing how well their product or service meets the needs of the market and its consumers. While quality is an issue, other facets that factor into a product are variety, design, image, features and benefits. Whether or not the product is tangible, it must provide value to the customer, as established by the customer, not the marketer.
- Price - The price must be competitive and appealing to the customer, yet still generate a profit to the business. It covers suggested retail price, wholesale price, discounts, allowances and payment terms among other factors. To establish appropriate pricing, it is important to understand the cost of producing the product or service, along with how much elasticity in the price/value ratio customers will tolerate. This is the only element of the marketing process that generates revenue.
- Place - This refers to where customers buy the product or service, such as by direct selling, telemarketing, mail order, at retail locations or a combination of these and other approaches. This also refers to how the product is showcased to customers, such as a store window or an e-commerce website. What is important is that the product is made available in the right place, at the right time and in the right quantity at the customer’s convenience. Changing place can have a major impact on sales, upward and downward, so it must be carefully considered.
- Promotion - In this part of the process, the marketer is using tools to raise awareness and interest in the product or service. Promotion covers branding, special offers, sales, advertising and PR. The idea is to create a mix that opens the dialog with customers by focusing as much on the benefits of the product as the features. It is also important to understand the dynamic nature of promotion. Not all tactics will achieve the same results over time, making it critical to test and learn from activities, such as which combinations of tactics perform best under what circumstances, and be prepared to adjust the process accordingly.
- People - People refers to anyone inside or outside of the business who is in a position of influencing how its brand and the products and services that comprise it are perceived and accepted – or not. This is most important with a company’s employees, who are on the brand’s frontlines and directly responsible for shaping experiences and impressions. To that end, it creates the need for a workforce that has the right attitude, is well trained and is motivated to serve as brand advocates.
- Process - Keeping the customer happy by consistently performing in a way that anticipates and responds to customer satisfaction issues is critical to any business. Process denotes how the service is provided. It covers customer service, delivery, placing orders and communications policies, and is often the most overlooked part of the marketing process since businesses tend to design their processes for their own convenience. Considering this category from an outside-in vantage point can transform this “P” into a huge competitive advantage.
- Positioning - With Positioning, consideration is given to how the brand is positioned in the competitive space and in the minds of your consumer. The product or service might be positioned as more valuable and more expensive, or as an affordable option at somewhat lower quality. Many experts argue that how your customers perceive you will be the most critical factor in a businesses’ success or failure in a competitive environment. This is why market positioning must always remain a work in progress.
Other “Ps” that are often wrapped into the marketing discussion are packaging or physical evidence/appearance. In either case, these refer to the visual element or external aspect of a product or service, and not just “packaging,” per se. For example, the décor of an office being funky or conservative says something about the business, as does the attire of employees, and the way informational brochures and the company logo are designed.
By understanding the facets of each of the seven Ps, a business’ marketers are equipped with the keys they need to create a comprehensive marketing plan to keep the organization responsive to the market and moving forward profitably.