If you’re old like me, at least in "marketing years," you probably learned about the 4 Ps of marketing in school. And only the 4 Ps. Yes, it was a simpler time, with this little quartet comprising the entirety of the marketing mix. Back then, understanding product, price, place, and promotion was all it took to create a good marketing strategy. Oh, how times have changed.
Over the last 25 years or so, many new methods of marketing have been introduced, competition has grown fiercer, consumers' needs and expectations have changed, and we’ve become much savvier about the buyer’s journey.
All of these have necessitated the creation of new marketing principles that are changing the way marketing strategies are formed. So 4 Ps turned into the 5 Ps of marketing. 5 Ps begat the 7 Ps of marketing. But why stop there when you can keep going?
Get to Know the 12 Ps of Marketing
No marketing initiative should be kicked off without a solid strategy. The best way to inform your strategy is through an understanding of the 12 Ps of marketing. These can then be used to identify and flesh out your marketing tactics. Let’s start from the top!
1. Product: What Are You Selling?
While this may seem like an easy question to answer, there are a number of considerations. First and foremost, are you going after the B2B or B2C market? You’ll want to approach the business market and the consumer market differently. It’s important to also think about the lifecycle of the product.
For example, will you be able to make adjustments to your product or marketing tactics in order to keep it relevant over time as the marketplace changes, products evolve, or new products are introduced? Are there product accessories or add-ons you can introduce in the future to keep consumers invested in your product?
2. Price: What Is Your Sale Price?
Pricing is a balancing act. Go too high and you can lose sales. Go too low and you can lose revenue. Often, marketers think of pricing as the cost of goods sold (COGS) plus a markup that will yield an acceptable profit margin. While that strategy is certainly an option, to determine pricing there are many other types of pricing strategies to consider.
Before you choose a strategy, however, you’ll want to analyze the pricing of the competition and consider where you want to fall on the pricing spectrum. Do you want to stay in line with the pack, price above them as a premium item, or price below them as a value item?
3. Promotion: How Will You Promote Your Product or Service?
This OG marketing mix 4P takes a lot of thought, as there are a lot of options! Which will be most effective, engaging, or elicit the most emotional reaction? Today, many marketers look for the right mix of traditional media (print, television, radio, outdoor, and direct mail) and digital media (email marketing, content marketing, PPC advertising, and so on), along with what type of “martech” (marketing technology) platforms can support and streamline initiatives. Of course, budget is always going to factor into the equation, with the latter generally being more cost-effective, especially for smaller businesses.
Another consideration is whether you want to focus your strategy on outbound vs inbound marketing. In a nutshell, all traditional media is outbound: It pushes messaging out to potential customers. On the other hand, digital media can be outbound or inbound.
At an outbound level, you have pop-up ads, email blasts, and the like. But, a lot of digital marketing is considered inbound: You give consumers an in to your business by providing information they are looking for through search engines, blogging, social media, and so on. Both methods can have a place in your marketing mix, and they can work powerfully together.
4. Place: Where Are You Selling?
You know what they say: Location, location, location! Determining where to sell your product or service used to mean simply identifying the right brick and mortar stores for your product and those that fit within your brand strategy (e.g., Walmart or Macy’s for a clothing brand).
Of course today, online marketing strategies are just as important, with the internet simply becoming another sales and promotional outlet. In fact, digital ad spending has surpassed traditional ad spending as marketers begin focusing on ecommerce. Another option is to sell both at physical locations and digital destinations. It’s all about determining the best place to reach consumers and where profits will be the greatest.
5. Packaging: How Will You Package Your Product?
Sometimes, it’s what’s on the outside that counts. While packaging was probably the first add-on to the 4 Ps of marketing, it should never have been left out of the marketing mix. Why? Because in a way, packaging impacts all the previous 4 Ps of marketing.
Packaging presents your product to the consumer in an attractive way; it communicates price; it promotes the value of the product by sharing information; and it’s what consumers see at the place you’re selling. Therefore, it’s important to consider the type of packaging, the messaging on it, and so on.
6. Positioning: What Makes You Different?
This is an important addition to the 12 Ps of marketing. In this step, you must identify what makes your product or service unique and different from the competition. While part of this will be determined by your pricing, there are many other ways to position yourself.
Are you a healthier alternative? Do a portion of sales go toward an important cause? Does your product have more “bells and whistles”? All of this will factor into how you position your product or service.
7. Personality: Who Are You?
The best brands have a well-defined personality. Think about some of the most popular brands and an adjective is sure to spring to mind. Nike is athletic. GEICO is quirky. Apple is smart. Hallmark is sincere. Harley-Davison is rugged. Red Bull is exciting. Tiffany is elegant. Disney is fun.
So, what is your brand’s personality? While some may consider this marketing P part of positioning, I think it’s too important not to stand alone.
8. People: Who Are You Targeting?
People will mostly be informed by the other Ps. Sure, it’s great to target “everyone” (and indeed, some commodity products are meant for everyone), but you can narrow it down to those most likely to purchase by delving into geographic (where they live), demographic (who they are), psychographic (what they think), and behavioral (how they act) aspects of your audience.
For example, we like to say “everyone loves bacon.”
Of course, not everyone does love bacon. In the U.S., the most vegan states are NV, CA, OR, HI, and NY. So, geographically, you might spend more on advertising in other states.
And although the National Pork Board shows that bacon appeals more to men than women, studies reveal that women make 70 percent of all household grocery purchases. So, while you may target men, you’ll want to be sure to be female-friendly in your advertising. Need more help? Creating a buyer persona is another great way to figure out who the customer is and what is important to him or her.
9. Process: What Is the Buyer’s Journey?
In the past, marketers put out a product, advertised it, and hoped for the best. Today, however, it’s essential to map out the buyer’s journey. After all, most people don’t wake up and buy something on a whim. They go through a process, hence this addition to the many Ps of marketing.
The buyers journey process consists of three stages: Awareness (when a prospect realizes they have a need or problem); consideration (when they look for ways to solve the need or problem); and decision (when they’ve decided how to solve the need or problem and are actively ready to make a purchase decision). From there, the hope is they will buy your product or service, love it, and become loyal brand ambassadors.
10. Policy: What Do You Believe?
Many company policies remain hidden in internal corporate documents, as they should. But, in today’s world where transparency is the key to creating consumer trust, you’ll want to share some of your policies. No, not the company dress code or PTO policy, but what you as a company value — what you believe in.
Are you committed to creating a sustainable product? Do you actively hire with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind? Do you donate to local or national causes? Are you committed to product safety? All of this can be communicated within your marketing messages, on your website, through social media, and so on, to build trust and create a connection with consumers.
11. Performance: How Will You Measure Success?
At the end of the day, you have to answer to somebody about the performance of your marketing efforts. How will you measure it? Through website or social media analytics? Customer reviews or referrals? Positive media coverage? ROI or bottom-line sales?
Understand from the get-go what you hope to achieve and how you will measure it, and then be prepared to report on it.
12. Perseverance: How Will You Continue to Grow?
Ok, I wanted an even 12. But, this is something to consider. How will you persevere, or continue to grow, in today’s rapidly changing marketplace? It’s always important to look to the future.
So, in this final step, I recommend thinking about ways to evolve (whether it is your product or service, or your promotional efforts) in order to survive and thrive years down the road.
Inform Your Marketing Strategy With the 12 P’s of Marketing
According to CoSchedule, 40 percent of marketers have no marketing strategy. This, in the face of data that shows top marketers are 414 percent more likely to report success when they document their marketing strategy.
Why do some marketers fail to come up with a strategy? It may be because they don’t know where to begin. So start here. By following these 12 marketing mix elements, you can craft a good marketing strategy that will make your brand valuable and viable now and for many years to come.