A drawing of an upward growing graph

There are many marketing strategies a business should consider—some you might not even know you're using. If you've ever released limited-edition products (maybe because that product is difficult to source or produce), that is scarcity marketing. If you've offered discounts on Valentine's Day or Christmas, that would be seasonal marketing. If you use an email marketing platform to create a sequence of messages to your leads or customers, that can be drip marketing and email marketing. Some others are B2B marketing, promotional marketing, guerrilla marketing and alliance marketing.

A great way to build your marketing strategy—the overall game plan for reaching prospects and turning them into customers is to look at the marketing mix model. Traditionally, the marketing mix was "the 4Ps of marketing": product, price, place, and promotion. In 1981, three more "service specific" P's were added— process, people, and physical evidence—giving us the 7Ps of marketing, which are also relevant for product-based businesses.

The marketing mix helps marketers outline and design educated marketing strategies.

Here we have outlined the Marketing Mix along with examples. There's also a list of handy links at the bottom of this blog—check them out before you leave!

1. Product

This can be a product or service and generally follows a life cycle of introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. To prolong business, marketers will reinvent their product or service to stimulate demand by altering or improving design, convenience, value, quality, packaging, and branding.

For example, when we started streaming movies and TV shows on the web instead of going into a good old Blockbuster (what a trip down memory lane), companies like Netflix became a huge success because they anticipated the change and adapted their model to offer it. If Blockbuster had gone online quicker, they may not be bankrupt today.

It's important to ask yourself a few things: How and where will your customer use this product? Are there any necessary features you haven't included? How is the product different from the competition? Then, let your customers know why they should buy your product (or service) over your competition.

2. Price

A critical component of your marketing mix is price. It has a huge impact on your marketing strategy and will also affect sales and demand.. Your pricing will shape your consumers' perception of the product. A price too low could mean a product inferior to the competition, but a higher price could make consumers overlook your product's benefits and choose a lower-priced competitor. It's important to research your competition and price accordingly.

Some pricing strategies include:

  1. Price skimming: This means you would charge the highest possible amount for your product and reduce it over time, like electronic products, for example.

  2. Cost-plus: The price is determined based on the unit cost plus a profit margin.. This usually ignores consumer demand and competitor prices. Many retail businesses use this method, choosing a different mark-up amount for each product.

  3. Loss-leader: This strategy involves selling a product at a loss, as a strategy to attract new customers or to sell excess stock. The reasoning is that your customers will like the unprofitable item enough to continue purchasing your other products, and will eventually generate profit. Window displays are a good example—how often have you gone into a store because you saw a great out front and then brought the whole shop home with you?

Though some strategies seem beneficial in the long term, consumers might perceive or value your product negatively (e.g., offering discounts consistently could encourage clients to buy only when there is a discount, which could attract value-oriented consumers instead of your target market). As always, observe your competition, do your research, and test it yourself!

3. Place or distribution

To reach your audience, you need to position and distribute your product where it's convenient to consumers. This requires a deep understanding of your target market. Where do your clients look for similar products? What stores will they visit? Should you sell in-store or online? How are your competitors reaching the market?

Distribution strategies include direct (you sell the product directly to the consumer either online or in-store), indirect (the product reaches the consumer through multiple channels. For example: you -> distributor -> retailer -> consumer), intensive (cover as much of the market as possible: soft drink companies use this strategy to saturate as many retailers as possible), and lastly, selective (choose only the distribution channels that align with your intended customer perceptions. For example, a camping manufacturer would choose sell their products at BCF or Tentworld rather than Bunnings).

 

There are many other distribution strategies, so we recommend doing some research and identifying which one is right for each product you sell.

4. Promotion

As we mentioned before when talking about product, you want to tell customers why they should purchase from you rather than your competitors. You can do this through your promotion strategies, which not only increase brand awareness but also helps increase sales and generate revenue.

Ask yourself these questions when defining a promotion strategy:

  • Where is your target audience most likely to find your product or service? Generally, this will predominantly be online, but many businesses still have success in traditional advertising like billboards or flyers.

  • Does seasonality affect your business? If you're only selling Christmas products, you need to consider this when developing your promotion strategy.

  • What are your competitors doing? Evaluate your competitors' promotional strategies (and while you're at it, analyse their other six P's as well, so you can also include them in your SWOT analysis).

  • What kind of messages does your audience respond to? Some brand voices are very friendly and down to earth, like a children's bookstore, while others, like a law firm, need to be professional.

In addition to these, we also highly recommend online marketing. That includes email marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing, and A/B split testing. While you research these marketing methods, think about your answers to the questions above and consider anything else that might be relevant to your business.

5. Process

This section is most relevant for service industries.. It is the process (or series of actions) that helps you deliver your product or service to customers. This includes managing your sales funnel, payment processing, distribution channels, and after-sale care. To succeed here, it is important to figure out how to implement these "processes" in a way that retains product quality and maximises customer benefits, while also minimising costs.

Along with these 7Ps, you should also constantly evaluate, update, and optimise your business processes. Go through all the stages of purchase, as a customer would, so you can see exactly what they see. Ask your friends and family to do the same and give you feedback. Does the website take ages to load? Is the payment portal too clunky? Does the post-purchase email engage customers? Seeing things from various  perspectives is a great way to improve your business and its processes.

6. People

"People" includes anyone directly or indirectly involved in your business. If you are the CEO, this refers to yourself, your management staff, and employees. In most cases, "people" also refers to company culture and standard of customer service. Generally, the purpose of business is to build a successful brand that meets the needs of its audience.

It's also important to properly train your employees—both in business operations and customer service. Often, your employees establish the first impression of your customers, so it is important that they give a good one! As a customer, would you be most impressed by a business that responded in less than 2 hours, or 24 hours; an employee who addressed you by your name or not; an employee who goes out of their way to explain their products or someone who doesn't  care unless you buy something? Often, customers remember these small details when deciding between two competing businesses.

Here are some tips to support your organisation's people, both employees and customers:

  1. Listen to your employees' needs and take care of them

  2. Offer thorough training (and continue to update the training as the business evolves)

  3. Ask for feedback, and give them feedback

  4. Notice good and bad customer service you experience

  5. Don't be afraid to let people go if they are not aligned with your values, or causing more harm than good

6. Physical Evidence

Physical evidence describes the overall feel and perception of a business's visual aspects. The products or services themselves form part of this, as well as anything received after or in an order—receipts, packaging, invoices, or flyers. Your website, logo, signage, business cards, and online presence also make up your physical evidence.

For service-based business, your physical evidence includes the environment presented to the customer. As an example, if you run a beauty or wellness centre, your physical evidence extends to the music, smells, decor, colours, cleanliness, ambiance, layout, lighting, etc.

It is crucial to align your physical evidence with your company's brand story. You want customers, and potential customers, to visit your website or store and have everything they see create or confirm positive perceptions about your business.

Example

To summarise the 7Ps, let's think about our fictional business: Zylker Cafe.

We (people) sell coffee, other home wares (product), and also run workshops (product/service) at our cafe (place). Our cafe is near the beach and gets lots of foot traffic. On the beach, we've got an A-frame sign (promotion) that provides directions to the cafe. Our signs in the front (physical evidence and promotion) can't be missed, and the discounted flowers on our front step (loss-leader pricing), entice people to come in and see what else we have. Our employees (people) wear matching aprons (physical evidence) and wait attentively behind the counter to greet customers.

A customer walks in because they saw some flowers out in the front they'd like to buy. They smell baked goods and roasting coffee (physical evidence), so they purchase the flowers and order some coffee and banana bread. Our employee serves the customer, saying "Here's your food and coffee. Please let me know if you need anything else." On the customer's table is a flyer (promotion) for upcoming workshops at Zylker Cafe. The flyer includes a QR code the customer can scan to go directly to the booking site (process).

In this example, you can see all the things that lead potential customers to your business, as well as what makes them want to come back. Your place and physical evidence play an important role in the customer experience, as does your process. Your people are the ones who make it all happen, the product or service is the reason they are there, and the price plays a role in purchase. All of the 7Ps have a direct impact on your business, and it is important to understand all of these aspects so you can give your customers the best experience possible.

Here are some helpful links to continue your research.

  1. Marketing 101

  2. Competitor research

  3. Telling your brand story

  4. Building your website

  5. Business training

We hope you enjoyed this blog post! Feel free to ask any questions or leave us some feedback below.

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