The principle behind the marketing mix is that for marketing to work you need to keep all elements in balance and you need to develop strategies in each of these areas to manage the marketing mix — it doesn’t look after itself.
It’s no good having a brilliant product or service if you price is uncompetitively, you don’t promote it properly, or your customer service and processes mean it doesn’t reach customers in good condition at the right time.
As a marketing manager you are like the conductor in an orchestra — everyone has to play from the same music sheet, in tune and in time or your customers will have a very discordant experience.
Although the marketing mix concept comes from the private sector, it works just as well, with a bit of tweaking of the terms in the public and voluntary sectors as well.
The Four Ps
The range and features of the products or services you offer.
Your pricing strategies. For the public/voluntary sectors you might consider also whether you offer services for free, level of grants or benefits, how you manage your services to meet financial objectives.
How you interact with your customers and clients and ensure they know you exist — which these days is increasingly a two-way conversation — understand your brand, hold you in high regard and ultimately, if you are in the private sector, buy your products and services and become regular customers so that you make a profit.
Communicating with investors and stakeholders is traditionally seen as part of the PR function and may be manged separately.
The channels through which you offer your products and services: do you sell direct to the customer, through intermediares such as wholesalers, in which locations, online/offline and so on.
The Seven Ps
- Physical evidence
Some people argue that these are mainly for service companies, but to me they seem just as relevant to any company or other sector.
The values you set out in your branding need to be understood and adopted by everyone throughout the organisation. Customers do not understand departments and don’t want to come face to face with a silo mentality. Marketing needs an input into how the organisation projects itself at the recruitment stage, through induction and ensuring that performance management is geared towards delivering the best possible customer experience and not localised line management priorities. It’s easy to see leave ‘people’ to HR, but it’s a mistake.
Again the customer doesn’t want to know about departmental systems that don’t talk to each other. A customer may first come across your website, then visit your premises, meet you at a fair. On the one hand they expect everyone in the organisation to know all about the contacts they have ever had, on the other they want to know their data is being protected! Integrating systems and managing and exploiting data, whilst respecting data protection principles are notoriously difficult. It’s makerting’s role to keep on top of the issues and deal with the problems that inevitably arise when the interface between different systems doesn’t meet up to all requirements.
Before parting with their money customers want reassurance that what they think they are buying is what they will really get. With more and more business being done online devising ways of giving this reassurance is becoming increasingly critical.
Testimonials and reviews are one key consideration here: not just the ones you collect yourself, but also having a strategy in place to monitor and respond to reviews that people may leave about you online.
If customers do come to your premises they also need to ensure that what they see and experience is consistent with your promotion. Glossy brochures and an impressive website will mean nothing if they see a dilapidated building and are greeted by rude and unhelpful staff.
Even more Ps
Attempts have been made to add other ‘Ps’ such as Packaging, or to split Promotion into Offline and Online Promotion.
I don’t think a detailed debate into how many ‘Ps’ there should be is particularly helpful. The key point is that you need to consider all angles of the mix that you offer your customers/clients and they all have to work together. If one aspect is weak, your whole marketing effort is in danger of failing.
The one ‘P’ that I think deserves its own place on the list, but has yet to make it there is procurement and I will be covering that in a separate post.