ike a gold prospector searching for a rich seam, finding the optimal marketing mix for a unique business is something many businesses toil away at for years, sometimes finding specs of gold but rarely hitting the mother lode. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Finding the optimal marketing mix for a business, taking into account the many elements that make up its unique business and customer profile, can be easy, even for non-marketers.
Often, promotions alone are mistaken as marketing, and businesses select promotional activities based on their own experience, approaches trending in industry or based on the perceived success experienced by other businesses. This can be like looking for gold by digging a bunch of random holes instead of studying the unique geology of your own prospect. Similarly, the problem with this approach to marketing is that most businesses are fairly unique. The recipe for success for one business, might end up leaving another business – even in the same industry – dusty, tired and with sore hands, but no better off.
We have observed from afar time and again the frustration from businesses testing popular activities not suited to them and left wondering why they didn’t work and what other options are even available to them. In some cases, those activities weren’t wrong, they were simply used in isolation instead of as part of a comprehensive plan. Striking gold requires both the right tools for the job and an understanding of the environment.
The Four P’s of the Marketing Mix
The marketing mix is typically defined as The Four P’s and while there are more than four, these are the most crucial fundamentals to an effective marketing strategy. The four P’s include Product, Price, Place (or distribution), and Promotion. A company that sells a high-quality product or service, but which prices below the market or fluctuates pricing to a price-sensitive market, and promotes it through the wrong channels and in the wrong places or with inconsistent branding will be sure to fail. The only way to succeed in marketing is by developing a consistent, well researched and strategic plan through the evaluation of the marketing mix.
Let's dig a bit deeper into each P.
We'll start by looking at what your business actually sells, whether it be products, services or both, as this is the heart of your marketing mix. The Product of the marketing mix covers all aspects of your offering - from the thing itself, to packaging, name, branding, customer service, warranties, and many other things. The most important characteristic of Product though is it's differentiation within the market. Differentiation could be in quality, in design and features, or in service. Based on your research of your target market, and/or after interviewing existing customers, you should be able to identify what your unique selling proposition is or what it should be.
Dig deep into each element of your Product to assess whether it needs improvement. Find out what the major complaints are for example, or assess whether the name of the Product is easy to spell or recall. When you dig deep, you will uncover critical projects to include in your marketing plan which will improve your return.
Now let's turn to the distribution of your offering - i.e. how customers buy from you. If you sell through too many channels, your business will suffer from spreading resources too thinly. Conversely, if you don't sell through enough of the right ones, you will miss out on opportunities. You'll also need to consider whether your distribution model aligns with your brand.
Once you've identified which channels to sell your solution to - online, in-store, virtually, at an office, through retailers, at a pop-up or concept store, etc. - then you can optimise even further. For example, if you sell through retailers, then where should your product be positioned in the store? And if you sell services, what other brands or services would be complimentary and should you be white labelling to them.
What you charge for your solution matters not only for your bottom line but it is also part of your differentiator. If your brand is one of quality, yet you charge below market rates, you will confuse your audience and limit your potential. Start by identifying what your objectives are - be it survival, profit, market share, etc. - and then look to your audience and competition for reflection. How price sensitive is the market? What are others charging? How can you find the price-point that will achieve your objectives within these parameters? You'll also need to evaluate your methods of payment - PayPal, AfterPay, credit, debit, etc. - which will open up a whole new range of projects within your marketing plan.
Don't forget to identify whether you should be running price promotions or considering the psychological dimensions of pricing.
Now for the fun stuff - promotions! This is how you will get your audience to notice you and covers advertising, PR, sales, etc. A good promotion will be designed to educate, inform and persuade a prospective customer to buy from you. You'll want to start by finding out which channels your audience frequent and then evaluating the cost of that channel against your average sale and market size. Some channels, say television, will be frequented by your audience for sure, but they might be too expensive to justify the investment if the return isn't positive.
Once you've identified the channels to use, you'll need to jump back to your Product to make sure you are communicating your unique value proposition while addressing the needs of your target audience. A comprehensive customer journey map can help a lot with the success of your promotions.
Lastly you will need to establish how to measure the effectiveness and return of each of your Promotional projects.
Go ahead and download your free marketing strategy template now.