What is marketing mix? The 4Ps explained

By Lizzie Davey

19 Aug 2021

What is marketing mix? The 4Ps explained

Marketing can be a struggle for small businesses. The sheer amount of competition makes it hard to stand out, and the slew of platforms available today can quickly put even the savviest of businesses into a head spin.

In one study, 67.4% of small businesses were frustrated with their limited marketing budget, while 46.1% struggled to keep up with the big names in their industry.

But marketing is essential. It gets your products and services in front of the right people, boosts brand awareness, and gives you a competitive edge.

Over the years, there have been plenty of theories and “hacks” that claim to solve all your marketing worries, but only a few have stood the test of time - one of these is the marketing mix or, more commonly, the 4Ps of marketing.

This article covers

What is the marketing mix?

The marketing mix is a model made up of four key parts (a.k.a. the four Ps). These include product, price, promotion, and place, which all come together to fuel your marketing strategy. Think of each element as a corner of a marketing cube. One without the other spoils the flow and, when put into practice, can reduce your chances of marketing success.

Understanding the marketing mix of your products and services helps you define your position in the market and secure your messaging so that you reach the right people at the right time in the right places.

The concept was originally born in the 1950s by Neil Borden. Today, it encourages brands to consider four key elements of their business in order to level up their marketing efforts.

The importance of marketing mix

There are several benefits of the marketing mix but, most prominently, it gives you the foundations you need to create successful campaigns. On top of this, it:

  • Helps you understand what your product or service offers customers
  • Gives you the insights you need to create irresistible offerings
  • Forms the foundation for effective marketing strategies
  • Lets you leverage your strengths and eliminate unnecessary costs
  • Helps you identify the wants and needs of your customers
  • Provides insights into how and where to promote your product or service

The marketing mix: 4Ps

1. Product

“Product” refers to the thing you’re selling. Creating a desirable product with a good market fit makes it far easier to promote. Think about what your customers want from your product or service and what pain points it tackles. Knowing what features you need to incorporate to meet these needs means you can speak to customers in a language they understand.

Understanding your product also involves:

  • Knowing how and where customers will use it
  • What it’s going to be called
  • How it’s branded
  • What makes it different to similar products or services from competitors

2. Price

The price of your product will determine where it fits in the market. If it’s a luxury item with a high price point, your marketing efforts will need to address that. On the flipside, if you plan on selling a low-ticket item en masse, the marketing methods you use should take that into account.

When researching the price of your product, think about:

  • The value of the product or service to your customers
  • What the standard price points are for similar offerings in your industry
  • Whether you should offer discounts to certain market segments
  • How your pricing will compare to competitors

3. Promotion

Getting your product or service in front of the right people is hard if you’re not sure which channels to focus on. This part of the marketing mix helps you understand where your customers hang out, what kind of marketing messages they prefer, and how to position your product or service in the right way.

Promotion is a complex activity, but think about:

  • Where your target market are likely to see your marketing messages
  • What content format your customers prefer, whether that’s TV ads, social media updates, or email marketing messages
  • When your customers will be most interested in learning about your offering
  • How and where your competitors run their promotions

4. Place

Place is all about being in the right place at the right time (which is often the crux of successful marketing). Knowing where to find your customers and where your products or services are most likely to thrive is crucial to boost visibility.

When it comes to place, think about:

  • Where buyers look for products and services like yours
  • How you can access the right distribution channels
  • Whether you need to sell in-person or online
  • Where your competitors promote their products or services and what works well for them

The extended 7Ps

The 4Ps are the foundations of your marketing mix, but there’s more to it than that. In fact, you’ll often see three more Ps thrown around that add an extra layer to your marketing activities.

5. Physical

Physical (or physical evidence) refers to the tangible elements relating to your product. This can be product packaging, receipts, any signage, or even the layout and styling of a brick-and-mortar store.

6. People

The people part of your marketing mix simply refers to the people involved in selling your product. Your employees play a key role in marketing your product, speaking to customers, and even delivering the end result. When digging into this step, think about how staff appear to customers and what kind of experience they give buyers.

7. Process

Every business runs on processes. And, usually, these processes will impact how a product or service is created, presented, and delivered.

This part of the equation takes into account how employees perform key tasks, what your customer support system looks like, and how performance is tracked and measured. Any activities that are repeatable or required in order to sell your product or service come under this step in the marketing mix.

The marketing mix in action

Before you start firing up Facebook ads, printing billboard campaigns, and handing out flyers in the mall, wise up on your marketing mix and the different elements that make up your product or service.

Once you have a good idea about its price point, the value it brings to customers, and where the best place is to promote it, you can craft marketing messages that truly resonate with the people who matter.