With all the dozens of tactics and strategies available for use in marketing, how do businesses pick the winning combination? Companies naturally want to get their products and services out in front of as many prospective customers who are ready, willing and able to purchase as possible. To do this, it's important to understand the marketing mix. This concept uses various analytic frameworks to look at all the elements and features in play that might impact marketing. The most popular of these frameworks is the "4Ps" – product, price, place and promotion. By leveraging these elements to take advantage of natural strengths, the company can improve its chances of successfully marketing its product.

The Role of the Marketing Mix

There's an old axiom that defines marketing as the process of "getting the right product in front of the right people at the right time and for the right price." The marketing mix refers to the collection of tools and strategies a business will use to do just that: get its products to customers who are ready and able to buy them.

Marketing is crucial to a company’s success. If a business wants to grow and reach a broader audience with its products and services, it will have to take some kind of action to help that audience find it. Businesses also need to persuade prospective clients to select their products or services, instead of those offered by its competitors. Marketing is the total of those tactics and strategies a business uses to accomplish these goals.

To ensure success, a business should take care to integrate a variety of strategies into its marketing plan. These strategies should reflect the reality of business operations as well as the company’s goals for that product or service line.

The 4Ps of Marketing

The marketing mix is carried out through what is called the “4 Ps of marketing.”

  • Product: What the business is selling, either a tangible good or a service the company performs.
  • Price: How much the product costs the customer or client.
  • Promotion: Any strategy or technique the company uses to market its products or services, including advertising, direct mail, public relations and content marketing among other methods.
  • Place: How the product is distributed, for example, where it is sold, how customers come across it, whether there’s a sales team responsible for demonstration and ordering.

These elements constitute the four “Ps” and provide a framework for conceptualizing the marketing strategy for a product. These “4Ps” reflect the key top-level marketing decisions the company must make for each product or service it sells. While tools and strategies may be replicated across product lines, each product must have its own marketing plan based on its own 4Ps analysis.

The Marketing Mix Elements

While the 4Ps provide a convenient framework for thinking about and choosing marketing strategies, they aren’t the same thing as the marketing mix itself. Multiple elements comprise the actual marketing mix. To create and execute a successful marketing plan, it’s important to use the 4Ps to analyze the specific challenges and opportunities for that product or service. However, they're only a starting point.

In addition to place, promotion, price and product, consider customer service as an important part of the marketing mix. Customer service is no longer simply an afterthought to help people who have already made purchases. It constitutes a significant part of the evaluation process for many, if not most, consumers. Shoppers want to know how well your business will help them make the most out of their purchase.

Moreover, an entirely new formulation of the 4Ps framework is gaining popularity – the 7Ps. This iteration focuses more on services that a company may provide, as opposed to tangible products offered for sale, by adding three more “Ps.”

  • People: The employees of the business, especially everyone involved in the lifecycle of the product itself, from conception to marketing.
  • Processes: The total of the business’s actions taken to deliver the product or service to customers.
  • Physical Environment: The tangible parts of the customer experience, including ambiance, environment and branding.

The Importance of the Marketing Mix

The marketing mix’s place in promoting and selling a company’s product should not be minimized. Successful marketing campaigns incorporate and utilize all of the strengths at hand while downplaying or containing the weaknesses. To strike that balance, it’s necessary to understand all the basic elements of the marketing mix for that particular product.

As an example, a company will inevitably market a simple $8 household storage bin quite differently from a complex $8,000 business storage system. Generally, the truth of that statement is immediately apparent, even to people who don’t know much about marketing. The reasons all boil down to those basic elements: the products, their different price points, their disparate intended purchasers and the different methods and places of distribution for each, among other things. Marketers designing the promotional marketing plan for these products could take the same analytical approach, using the 4Ps (or 7Ps) framework to compose that plan. However, the profiles for each “P” would look quite distinct.

A thorough examination of the marketing mix for the product in question yields a more effective and ultimately successful marketing plan. It allows the company to capitalize on strengths, thus minimizing associated marketing costs and increasing its return on that investment. Ultimately, it results in more product units being sold and – assuming the business provides excellent customer service – greater profits.