Marketing is an essential element of running a business. While not every company and start-up will be able to support a full-fledged marketing department from the get-go, marketing operations are still a part of every business from day one. Without marketing, there are no sales, no revenues, and no profits. Why? Because marketing is how you bring in new customers/ clients, and continuously appeal to existing ones. If you are considering starting a business or struggle to expand an existing one, it might be time to refresh yourself on the basics. While these four concepts may seem too basic, it is always worth it to refresh yourself on some of the simple steps you may be forgetting.
There are four basic concepts of marketing. From these four concepts, every other facet of marketing flows. You cannot run a business successfully without mastering these four concepts: product, price, place, and promotion. Once you begin to understand what each of these concepts means on their own and in tandem with the others, you can begin to draft and implement an effective marketing strategy. While this strategy will evolve and become more complex to coincide with business growth, it is never too complex that these four “P’s” don’t apply.
What are you selling? What does it do? What need does it fill?
These are the questions that tend to fall under the “Product” aspect of marketing. Quite simply, every business is designed to sell a product. From the 5¢ lemonade stand in your backyard as a kid, to the Fortune 500 companies listed each year, every business sells a product. These products can be tangible, digital, or come in the form of a service.
When marketing your business, you in turn need to be marketing a product. It is possible to market one without the other, but it is more difficult. After all, what do I care about a business if I don’t know what they do? Vice a versa, why should I buy a product from Business A over Business B?
Remember that services and intangible assets are products too. Just because your business sells things that can’t be sold from a store shelf doesn’t mean it doesn’t have products to offer. Everything that your business offers in exchange for money is a product. In order to market your services effectively, you need to think of them as such. Ask yourself the same questions.
- What does this service do?
- What does it look like?
- How can it be stylized to my business?
Services offer a much more direct answer to the question of “what need does it fill?” since services appeal directly to a specific need by their very nature. Because of this, you can market your services much more directly than you may be able to with a physical product.
If your products and services are the exact same as your competition’s, then no one really cares about what either of you have to offer. Fortunately, there are limitless ways that you can differentiate what you have to offer from what Mom and Pop and even Large Corporations are selling.
Design your products with differences in mine. These differences can be as simple as offering your product in a unique color or can be as complex as offering additional functions.
Services can be created differently too. You can offer additional touches that customers will remember, such as offering a free vacuuming with any exterior car cleaning, or even something as simple as leaving a mint with each delivery you perform.
Sales is a competition. Fortunately, designing differently is a huge step towards competing with similar products, services, and businesses. Don’t be afraid to offer functions and additional services that your competition isn’t. Every relevant offering that you can add on top of the basic product is just one more reason for customers to buy from you rather than the other guy.
Additionally, make sure that the competition isn’t offering functions and services that you aren’t. If they offer a specific component that allows them to overtake you in sales, don’t be afraid to find ways to incorporate that component, or one like it, into what you have to offer.
Price is a big concept for customers to get around. It is also a big hurdle for business to get around. Unfortunately, the relationship between customers and price and businesses and price is an oppositional one. Customers, naturally, want to spend as little money as possible for the items or services they need. On the other hand, business want to make as much profit as is reasonable. These two groups don’t always intersect, however there are ways by which your business can stand out when it comes to price.
Understand that price is a tool, and when used effectively it can do wonders for the marketing of your products and business.
Make sure that your prices are cost effective. If it costs you $4.25 to make an espresso, don’t sell it for $3.00. At the end of the day your prices have to turn a profit, or you won’t keep the lights on. It might seem tempting to offer heavy discounts to get your foot in the door but be careful. Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. Make sure that your products and services are priced in a way that is conducive to business growth AND customer satisfaction.
While it is important to make sure that your own bases are covered, you have to be willing to (somewhat) meet the consumer where they are at. If your competition is selling similar goods and services at a much lower price, you have to evaluate how your are competing when it comes to price.
The answer you will find is either that your margins are too wide or that the competition has a more efficient means of production. If you margins are too wide, can you justify it? If so, then your product may cost more because it offers more, and you need to let your customers now that. If you can’t justify the higher price or higher margins, then you need to lower your price so that it is competitive with similar offerings.
Cost is a Tool
Price is more than a price tag, it is a tool. Like any tool, when used without caution and expertise it can quickly become a danger. However, in capable hands it can solve many problems when it comes to marketing. Remember that price can be used not only to make money, but to actively compete with other brands.
Price is one of the principle tools of marketing because it is a constant concern of the buyer. But, if you can meet them on a level that meets both your needs and theirs, you can utilize price as an effective marketing tool.
Place doesn’t just mean what stores your product sits in. Place refers also to what aisle a product is, how high it is on the shelf. When you consider the complexities of how the internet utilizes space, this principle of marketing becomes even more complex. Fortunately, there are universal constants when it comes to place and the role that it plays in creating sales with customers.
For example, visibility is important regardless of how or where a product is being sold or advertised. If people can’t see what you are selling, they aren’t being afforded the opportunity to buy it.
Brick and Mortar
Brick and Mortar sales takes a very straightforward approach to the principle of place. In this case, place covers topics such as where is the building located, where will the shelf be placed, how close to eyeline with the product be on that shelf, will similar products be nearby.
A great understanding of place can be found with bottled sodas and candy near a checkout. These are snack items to eat on your way out, and relevant impulse buys that are sold in high quantities because of where they are placed. Remember that place matters and prepare your business accordingly.
Use the Internet
The internet doesn’t operate in three dimensions, but place is just as relevant on the web as it is in a store. On the internet place can refer to search engine rankings, and how SEO can increase your position on Google’s first page. Place can refer to where your ad is located on a screen or in a Facebook feed. Place determines how large your ad is and to which users it is being presented.
Place operates across many more dimensions on the internet, so make sure that you are appropriately utilizing it today.
Promotion is a very unique principle of marketing, but it goes hand in hand with “Place”. If “Place” is the where of what you’re selling, then “Promotion” is the how. Promotion covers everything from coloration, fonts, logos, images, and special sales. Promotion is a very aggressive principle of marketing because of how hands-on it can be managed.
With the right promotion strategy, you can create further success from “Product”, “Price”, and “Place”. If the first three principles of marketing are the steak, “Promotion” is the sizzle. And everybody knows, you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. In other words, you need to sell what pops, or the intangible aroma that brings out excitement and desire in your potential buyers and customers.
Social Media is a great place to promote; and best of all, it’s free. Utilize your social media following to generate leads and sales. Continue to build and engage your audience and social media will quickly become a powerful tool at your disposal.
Social media also offers a plethora of advertisement options that are easy to understand and can produce successful advertising campaigns in minutes. If you aren’t using social media as a staple of your “Promotion” strategy, you are at a severe loss.
Your Website Here
Your Website is your number one asset when it comes to promoting your business and making sales. However, it is not the only tool at your disposal. Your website is the most effective when it is used in conjunction with other outlets such as social media. Let your website be the hub, and make sure that it promotes everything you have to offer.
Sales aren’t always bad. In addition, it can be very beneficial to occasionally package products and services for a “bulk” discount. Don’t be afraid of incentivizing, even if it means slightly lower margins. Just make sure that you are promoting effectively so that those smaller margins are made up for with a larger volume of sales.
Special Promotions are a great way to generate interest in what you have to offer. These limited time deals are useful asset for getting your company’s foot in the door of the consumer’s mind.
Much like you must create your product differently, you must also advertise it differently. Copy/pasting a competitor’s ad and changing the specifics isn’t enough. A successful “Promotion” strategy stands out and is different. This includes cosmetics such as changing fonts, logos, and visuals. However, this is also more abstract in the sense that you may not even need the same platform or medium of advertisements. Instead, find ways to stand out from the competition and to make your products, services, and company pop.
Marketing is a very complex concept when you break down its many specifics. However, it can easily be classified into four different principles. Together the concepts of Price, Product, Place, and Promotion help to classify the needs of a marketing strategy and how it can be made effective. Remember that these principles can also be tools. These are not just guidelines; they are actually strategies that your business can implement. When considering each of these principles, it is important that you adapt them to fit the needs and expectations of your business. Implement these principles into your business strategy today and watch the results flood in.