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Mix It Up: A Digital Spin on the “Four Ps of Marketing”

A Digital Spin on the Traditional Marketing Mix

If you sit in on any college entry-level marketing lecture, you’ll most likely observe a discussion based on a concept called the “four Ps of marketing.” No marketing major (including myself) could even think about graduating without knowing this concept backward and forward.

The four Ps of marketing are:

  1. Product
  2. Price
  3. Place
  4. Promotion

The concept of the four Ps — also known as the “marketing mix” — has been around for decades. It refers to the set of actions and tactics used to communicate the value of a product or service to potential customers.

Even though I work for a digital marketing agency that focuses entirely on online marketing, I haven't forgotten about the traditional marketing mix. In fact, as marketing has transformed throughout the years, so have the four Ps of marketing.

Why the Marketing Mix Is Like Meatloaf

Chef in kitchen, symbolizing the digital marketing mix

In 1949, Neil Borden was the first person to coin the term “marketing mix.” According to Borden:

“When building a marketing program to fit the needs of his firm, the marketing manager has to weigh the behavioral forces and then juggle marketing elements in his mix with a keen eye on the resources he has to work with.”

Mr. Borden was on to something. Over the next twenty years, the elements in the marketing mix were established as product, price, place, and promotion.

In my opinion, it's easier to understand the marketing mix when you relate it to a chef’s meatloaf recipe.

You have your basic set of ingredients (product, price, place, and promotion), but the way in which you prepare those ingredients (through your integrated marketing/communications plan) and deliver them to your guests (customers) will differ for each chef (marketer).

At times, you’ll even include a few extra ingredients to make your dish (product or service) really stand out against the other meatloaf dishes in town (competitors).

This recipe won’t be everyone’s favorite (not everyone will purchase your product). But with some trial and error, you can create your best possible meatloaf that many people will find delicious! 

Applying the 4 Ps of Marketing Today

The four Ps of marketing may have been established before man walked on the moon, but this concept is not outdated.  

The overall goal of marketing has remained the same: to help solve a customer’s need by communicating the value of your product or service and showing how it will help fill a void in their life.  

Here's how to adapt the traditional four Ps of marketing to your digital strategy in 2018.

1. Product

Vehicle with price tag, symbolizing product in the marketing mix

The first P is pretty self-explanatory — it’s the thing you’re trying to sell! Your product may be a physical item (like a vehicle), or it may be a service (like an oil change).

Consumer knowledge about the product you’re selling may be the biggest difference from the early days of the marketing mix. In the past, when a consumer realized they needed a product to fill a void in their life, they would head to a local business to get what they needed.

Today, this process looks a lot different. Consumers are putting in hours of online research about the product they are thinking about purchasing. This is especially true for large purchases, like vehicles.

By incorporating into your marketing strategy blog posts, landing pages, and emails that inform customers about the product or service you sell, you will be very helpful for customers during the research part of their journey.

For auto dealers, this could mean:

  • Writing blog posts that outline the top features of a certain vehicle model
  • Creating a “frequently asked questions” landing page on your website
  • Emailing customers about some of the awesome incentives going on at your dealership

2. Price

Price will always be a key factor customers consider in determining how much they are willing to pay for a product or service.  

Price isn’t everything, but it is something. When communicating the price of your product or service, it’s important to be transparent. Make sure that the price advertised on your Facebook ads, emails, and other content is the actual price customers will pay.

There’s a good chance that your product isn’t the most affordable on the market, so you’ll need to communicate the extra value that comes with spending a bit more money on something customers could get for a lower price elsewhere.

Maybe your dealership doesn’t have the cheapest trucks in town, but you offer personal service no other dealership can compete with. Promote that!

The answer to your company’s “why buy from us?” question is its value proposition. If your company’s value proposition isn’t easily available on your website and other digital content, change that. Potential customers should hear straight from you what the value is in purchasing from your company.

3. Place

Weathervane against blue sky, symbolizing place in the marketing mix

Place refers to product accessibility to potential customers. Decades ago, place simply referred to the physical brick-and-mortar shop where you could buy a product.

In 2018, a customer doesn’t need to walk into your store to view your product. Online shopping has dramatically changed the place aspect of the marketing mix.

Utilizing the place aspect of the marketing mix means:

  • Having a good website where all your products are listed
  • Using real images (limiting stock images as much as possible)
  • Having good inbound content available that educates potential customers about your products without coming off as intrusive

You’ll also want to make your website SEO friendly, using keywords and phrases your target audience is searching for on Google, while also writing engaging content with the user’s intent in mind.

4. Promotion

The final P in the marketing mix may be the most important in your company’s overall marketing plan. You can have a great product at a good price and a kickass website — but without the right promotion, you won’t make much progress.

Promotion is where personalization comes into play. Instead of using traditional television, radio, and billboard marketing to impose your message on the entire public, share it with only the people who need to hear it, the way they want to hear it.

Promotion in today’s digital landscape means creating tailored content, combining Facebook ads, blog posts, email, and social media efforts that encourage engagement with the right people at the right time.

It would be awesome if someone read one of your blogs and immediately decided to purchase your product. Unfortunately, it seldom works out this way. It usually takes multiple website views, a few targeted Facebook ads, and an email or two before a customer commits to purchasing your product.

In the auto industry, this cohesive plan is even more important, since an average 19 out of 24 touchpoints on the path to purchase are digital!

Mix Up Your Digital Marketing with 9 Clouds

No buyer’s journey is exactly the same as another. But by understanding how the marketing mix applies to your company, you can make sure your message hits the right audience.

At 9 Clouds, we work to find the right marketing mix for your dealership. Schedule your free digital audit, and learn more about online marketing with 9 Clouds.

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