One of the most famous concepts in marketing is the marketing mix or the 4 P’s of marketing.
What’s Included In This Article On The Marketing Mix
In this long article I look at the traditional marketing mix and how the marketing mix has been extended for service marketing with the 7 P’s of Marketing.
I then consider just how many P’s there are in marketing since there have been many derivations of the marketing mix.
I also look at the different versions of the marketing mix based on a wide variety of Ps of marketing – the 5 Ps, 6 Ps, 8 Ps, 9 Ps etc- you’ll be surprised at just how many different versions of the marketing mix there are.
Which is right for you?
Whatever marketing model gives you new insights into making your marketing more successful and effective.
The Traditional Marketing Mix or The 4 P’s of Marketing
The marketing mix was designed as a simple way to focus attention on the main elements of marketing for a business and to create a marketing strategy either at business, product or campaign level.
Some clever marketer played around with the words and realised that the concepts could be described with words beginning with the letter P – and created the 4Ps of marketing.
- Product – what you are selling
- Price – how much you are charging for your product
- Promotion – how you tell people about your offer i.e. your product and price
- Place – how people can buy your product
So for any marketer, the aim is simple.
To sell the right product (that customers want) at the right price (which customers can afford and are willing to pay) at a convenient place using effective promotions.
The essential idea is that each element of the marketing mix should be consistent, fit together and reinforce the other elements.
So you don’t market a premium product at a “pile ’em high” price.
You don’t market a premium product with tatty “done from home by your 9 year old daughter” promotional material – unless of course it is targeted at people with 9 year old daughters who might find it very appealing.
And you don’t sell your premium product at the local flea market.
Remember the marketing mix is about consistent fit.
Criticisms Of The Marketing Mix and the 4 P’s of Marketing
The marketing mix has been a mainstay of teaching marketing to students and professionals for fifty years although, like any well established idea, it is also criticised.
One thought is that it is too product focused and doesn’t translate well into the growing service based economy we live in – see the 7’s of the Service Marketing Mix below).
Others criticise the marketing mix as a tool for setting marketing strategy because it doesn’t have a goal – or I suppose beginning with P that should be Purpose – making a profit, generating quick cash flow, a low priced front end product which opens up the opportunity for future sales.
Without establishing purpose, how do you know if you have a marketing mix which is suitable? The intentions of building brand awareness, gaining more market share and increasing profit can be very different.
An equally relevant criticism is the internal focus of the traditional 4 P’s of marketing.
Where is the customer in the discussion of marketing, which however you dress it up, is concerned with persuading particular customers to buy?
So in this case, we should be adding another P – for purchaser to keep the focus on the target customer, what they want, need and what motivates them.
And if marketing is about wanting customers to buy, the traditional marketing mix is for suppliers pushing products into the marketplace and not customers pulling products out of the potential suppliers based on their needs and wants through market research.
This was fine in the old days when demand exceeded supply but it’s much more difficult when markets have fragmented and there are many niche products targeted at small customer segments.
I can’t think of a word beginning with P for the market research issue so at the moment I’m going with Push/Pull to communicate the idea in a new marketing mix. (Please leave comments with any suggestions).
If customers need to feel confident before they buy – to know, like and trust you – then there is no mention of the development of Personal Relationships which are an essential element of 21st century marketing.
Just to recap I have suggested that the marketing mix is missing:
- Purpose (normally profit)
- Personal Relationships
Service Marketing Mix – The 7 P’s of Service Marketing
In my MBA I was taught the traditional marketing mix based on the 4 P’s and also taught the Service Marketing Mix or the 7 P’s of marketing.
There are special characteristics of a service which make is marketing different from selling products. Perhaps most of all, you can pick up a product and see, feel and touch it. You can’t do that with services because they are intangible.
The 7 P’s of Marketing pick up the traditional marketing mix of Product, Price, Promotion and Place and added:
- People – services are performed by people whose performance influences the quality of the service delivered and perceived to be delivered.
- Process – it’s not just the attitudes of the person that matters but the process they use to provide the service.
- Physical evidence – services are intangible so the customer looks for physical clues about the quality.
How Many P’s Should There Be In The Marketing Mix?
So far we have the original 4 P’s of marketing, the extra 3 P’s added in the Service Marketing Mix and my four P’s based on critiquing the marketing mix.
That takes us up to 11 P’s of marketing.
UK marketing consultant Fraser Hay published a list of the 5 fundamental principles of marketing:
Since promotion is already covered in the traditional marketing mix, this adds another 4P’s to the marketing list – positioning, packaging, persuasion and performance.
Positioning is particularly important because it brings in vital concepts like differentiation and the unique selling proposition.
Then I Started Brainstorming About Marketing
Do the 15 Ps identified so far summarise what marketing has to offer and the important characteristics of marketing?
I don’t think so.
The first marketing book I ever read – getting on for 25 years ago was Offensive Marketing by Hugh Davison – it got me hooked. That book used an acronym of POISE.
- Profitable – even in loss leading campaigns and image advertising to build brands, there has to be a clear path to profit.
- Offensive – perhaps Proactive would be more suitable in this situation.
- Integrated – your marketing has to Pull together and not consistent of a scatter gun approach of different campaigns which send out conflicting messages.
- Strategic – I mentioned Purposeful earlier
- Effective – it has to work. Marketing that creates results is an investment, marketing that produces nothing is a waste of time, effort and money so the best P I can come up with is Perform – this is different to Fraser Hay’s performance which I believe relates to the product or service you provide.
The Marketing P’s Don’t End There
We are bombarded with marketing messages and spam coming into our email inboxes so Seth Goden’s concept of Permission Marketing is becoming increasingly relevant – and Permission is another P.
And isn’t marketing about helping a customer finding a solution to a Problem?
Aren’t customers motivated by the thoughts of moving away from Pain or towards Pleasure?
One of the key factors I stress in my marketing coaching is the need to be intentional – to decide what you want and to work out how you will achieve it – i.e to Plan your marketing.
Further thinking brings in two extra Ps – you need to have Periodic communications since one marketing message won’t do the job and you need to be Persistent.
In fact because of the difficulty of building up the know, like and trust factors, one of the most successful marketing strategies is to work through Partners who are already trusted.
And what is the most important thing that determines whether a customer buys – what is going on inside their heads – logically and emotionally which brings in the twin forces of Psychology and Perceptions.
The New Marketing Mix
Have I convinced you that seeing marketing in terms of the traditional marketing mix of the 4P’s or the service marketing mix of 7P’s is too simplistic?
So how does the new marketing mix appeal – the 27 P’s of Marketing (and counting)
- Physical evidence
- Personal relationships
- Pull together
OK what key marketing concept have I forgotten?
Inevitably there are bound to be things that I have missed so please leave a comment and let me know.
One P That Marketing Isn’t
There is one thing that marketing can never be.
Whatever you do can be improved.
And the 27s Ps of the new Marketing Mix are a good place to start.
Other Variations On The Traditional Marketing Mix
One Friday afternoon when I didn’t have much to do, I thought I’d research the other variations on the marketing mix.
It’s astonishing what I came up with as various marketers have tried to put their personal stamp on such a popular idea. If you know of any that I’ve missed, please leave me a comment.
If I included each new P, then my 27 P’s of Marketing would be much extended. The list is interesting if you want to find the components of a marketing strategy which you feel fits you better. Each new P can also be considered as a criticism of the original marketing mix or any of the other variations.
Just as a reminder, let’s start with the traditional marketing mix.
4 P’s of The Traditional Marketing Mix
The 3 P’s
The 3 P’s Of Marketing
Extended Marketing Mix
Using The Marketing Mix In The Real World
If you want tips on how to use the marketing mix and other marketing tips and ideas you can use in your business to attract more customers, make more sales and increase your profits, then please sign up to receive my free report “Marketing Secrets For Small Business”.