The right product at the right price in the right place at the right time: this is your typical Marketing Mix. Sounds simple, right?
But, here’s the reality: marketers aren’t getting it right.
Here’s the worst part: marketing waste is a profit killer.
This is crazy! 6 out of 10 marketing strategies aren’t working well at all. Why? Well that’s what this article is about. Read through to the end to pick up tools and insights that’ll help you improve your ROI.
But, first things first.
Marketing Strategy: Searching for that Winning Formula
The function of a business is to make money now … and in the future.
Clearly this comes down to Sales performance. (No pressure.)
However, the sales team is not alone. It takes a whole collection of marketing actions to set the stage for the sales.
Incidentally, it is a common error to conflate Sales and Marketing, but they are two distinct functions that must work in harmony. Simply put: Marketing sets it up. Sales closes.
Let’s turn to Oxford’s official definition.
Marketing Mix is a combination of factors that can be controlled by a company to influence consumers to purchase its products.
Key word: controlled.
Pro tip: Random marketing actions are no guarantee of sustained sales.
I’ll tell you why:
Guesswork is no way to run a business. A marketing campaign informed by strategy is measurable. If you aren’t measuring, it’s a hit-and-miss scenario. KPIs are met … or not. Heads roll.
On the other hand, if you are measuring, you can adjust your marketing until it does deliver robust results. Now … and in the future.
Savvy marketers are out to build this kind of success-template. We’re all looking for the optimal mix of marketing variables.
A robust marketing strategy that achieves the results you’re aiming for is a Winning Formula. The point isn’t just that you get the results, it’s how you get them. Because, if you know how, you can do it again.
Go Big. Go Easy.
Yes, the template will have to be tweaked the next time, and the time after that. This is nothing new. After all, the mantra of data-driven marketing is test, test, test. But, you’ll know what you’re doing.
So the good news is: strategy is repeatable.
It is also scalable. For teams within the company, it becomes a success-duplication tool. It’ll be your guide to new, bigger and better campaigns.
Better marketing sets the scene for easier, better, bigger sales.
This brings us to the question: How do you create a high-performance marketing strategy?
Two words: Marketing Mix.
Big Science: A Case for a Methodical Approach to Marketing
When did marketing get so complicated? Let’s look at the most recent curveball: Big Data. It’s a blessing … and a curse.
Turns out Big Data is a significant contributor to marketing waste. Well, obviously not the data itself. It’s what you do — or don’t do — with it.
There are metrics for everything, including cost per lead, customer lifetime value, organic traffic and conversion rates. Simply put, each one gives you the power to tweak your campaigns.
Successful marketing is contingent on a combination of factors. I’m not lying when I say its complex. It entails collecting, analysing and applying the data. It’s hard to get right if you don’t have a system that interprets the data to make it actionable.
The good news? The Marketing Mix Method dovetails nicely with statistical applications, complex algorithms and new technologies. It’s a methodical system that combines up-to-date data on the P’s to improve results on the go.
Random fact: Marketing is scientific. Who knew?
Now: What’s in it for you?
Good question. Let’s break down what this article will tell you about.
- Building blocks: the 7P’s of Marketing Mix.
- The missing P
- The missing, missing P
- Checklist: essential discovery questions for each P
Back to basics: What is Marketing Mix?
Product. Price. Place. Promotion. Each of the 4P’s has its part to play. How they work together is the Marketing Mix. (Of course, the up-to-date marketer will tell you there are an additional 3: People. Process. Proof.)
Here’s the kicker: when this combo is right, it’s brilliant. But when it’s bad, it’s expensive.
So, where do you start?
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The P’s of Marketing Mix
A Marketing Mix strategy informed by research is a dependable way to play to your strengths. In this article, I’ll be talking about all the P’s.
Top takeaway: Before designing your Marketing Mix strategy, evaluate what each P can bring to the party.
PRODUCT: What have you got there?
The product can either be a physical thing or an intangible service. A marketer’s job is to make it desirable. So you’re marketing features and benefits, right? No … and yes.
As we all know, a list of features isn’t much good for marketing purposes. By translating features into benefits, we’re letting the customer know what’s in it for them. Now they may be interested.
However, in my experience, this isn’t effective marketing. The way I see it, successful marketing is not dependent on the features-and-benefits of the product.
I’ll tell you why:
If we focus on features-and-benefits, we aren’t addressing what the customer really needs. And if we don’t recognise and acknowledge the customer’s pain point, we can’t present a solution they desperately need.
Here’s a for-instance:
The Hold-It-Properly Example
Your product is a jug with many features and benefits. The most important are:
- a large spout (f) so it doesn’t spill when pouring (b)
- a cunning shape (f) that fits in the door of a fridge (b)
- made of recycled glass (f) so it helps the planet (b)
Is your job done? Not yet.
If you settle on these, you’re missing the strongest motivator.
And before you say: Great benefits at a great price will be enough of an incentive … All this means is that you will be selling your product at less than you could be.
Worse: What if a competitor matches your price?
So, this is where you are tempted to add more features. You know, because more features mean more benefits. Now the Jug comes in every colour.
This is a mistake.
Why? Because you haven’t taken the time to see what your customer really, really needs. I’m talking about their pain points. Red, yellow, blue: how will your product ease their pain?
Here’s the kicker: the product doesn’t have to change.
Because customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions.
Let’s say you have done your homework and created a customer persona. So, now you know that they work long and hard. They spend little time at home. They don’t want to spend that time on chores.
Here’s your Jug from a new perspective:
- Your Jug doesn’t spill: no wiping-up.
- Original marketing: no spilling because it has a big spout.
- New marketing: Buy some relaxation. No wiping up because no spilling because our jug has a big spout.
Yes, it is a benefit. But, the real power is in the benefit of the benefit. In other words, the solution to their problem.
Alert: Turns out that there’s more to Product than features and benefits.
The Missing P: Customer PERSONA
It seems incredible to me that the Marketing Mix process doesn’t count the customer as a significant factor. Especially as the best results come from a customer-centric approach.
So, I’m sliding Persona in here.
Defining your ideal customer is essential: it informs every other P in the matrix.
Let’s start with the most basic question: Who is your ideal customer? You don’t want to know how many times a client will respond with, “Everyone.” If I’m lucky, they may say, “Everyone who does X.”
I just love this answer … not.
Full disclosure: Even if you are selling water, Not Everyone Is Your Customer.
The Weedkiller Example
Here’s an example of what I mean: The product is weedkiller. Clearly, the customer is everyone with a garden.
Um … no.
Yes, demographics and firmographics remain important when defining your target audience. However, precious clues to who the customer is are here:
Why are weeds the problem?
The customer’s pain point isn’t just that they need something to kill weeds. If we know why weeds are the problem, we can create more compelling marketing. Weeds could be a problem because:
- their child is allergic
- they are defending their Best Garden title
- the weeds are breaking up the garden path
- weeds are drawing unwanted attention to their suburban meth lab.
Each one of these indicates a different customer persona.
What kind of solution will work for them?
Here we are looking for the customer’s values. What drives their purchase decisions? Like:
- for the weekend gardener with little time, the product must work for an extended period
- for the criminal in a hurry and incognito, the product must work fast and should not be smelly
See, both personas need a time-sensitive solution, but for different reasons.
So what does this mean for marketing? You may have one product that can be marketed to 2 groups of customers. If you change the packaging and highlight different benefits in the blurb.
Long story short: who is buying it? Unless you know your customer (and this includes their values and what drives them) you will not have an accurate idea of what your product should be.
Pro tip: know thy customer.
PRICE: What’s it worth to you?
You’d think that marketers would have a say in the pricing strategy, but not many do. No matter what strategy is used to determine pricing, the marketer must ensure that the customer perceives value at that price point.
But this doesn’t mean that the cheapest wins. Value takes many forms.
The Precious Example
Value is in the eye of the beholder. Here’s how the price-value relationship works in marketing:
- Cheap is good for a product entering a competitive marketplace. It encourages customers to try it, because the risk is low. The marketing message could be: It’s worth what you pay for it.
- Value for money is great for an established product that needs to hold onto market share. The focus would be on superior performance at a great price. It is worth more than you pay for it.
- Expensive products appeal to customers looking for exclusivity. These products speak to customers seeking superior quality or status. It’s worth paying more for it.
Pro tip: The value proposition answers the question: what do I get from you that I won’t from other brands?
Do you see how the customer Persona, Product, and Price are intertwined? It is the same for all the P’s.
PLACE: where exactly?
A large part of Marketing’s job is to tell people where they can get the product, and persuade them to rush there.
Click here. Be there.
And yet …
It is far easier to go to where they are than to get them to come to where you are. Once again, the customer-centric approach.
The crux of the matter is convenience: saving time and effort is a significant driver. What’s more convenient than a product that’s within easy reach?
The Easy-Peasy Example
The ultimate convenience is having the product brought to you: personalized delivery.
The Covid-19 has had a significant impact on ecommerce and the processes that support the changing focus from Place to convenience. For example, 24/7 online customer service, tracing apps, and discount vouchers for repeat purchases.
Caveat: Coronavirus has caused disruption to global, regional and local supply chains. Will you be able to guarantee product delivery?
The maxim is: go to where your customers are.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Place is just about where your product is being sold, distributed or delivered. But, it doesn’t end there. Let’s take a look at the impact of location on Promotion.
PROMOTION: Look at me!
Attract attention. Build interest. Influence purchase. It’s not a lot to ask.
No matter what promotional activity and channels you choose, the 3 pearls of wisdom here are:
Engagement. Inclusion. Ownership.
Promotion should create the opportunity for customers to experience your brand in all its glory. Build a loyal tribe. Encourage user-generated content.
Covid-19 has impacted both B2B and B2C. Simply put: ecommerce is here to stay. McKinsey calls it the Great Consumer Shift. They counsel adjusting to the new norm.
This is what the report says:
“Adjusting mix and spend to where the consumer is now (go digital, ensure full coverage of bottom-funnel marketing and demand capture, think region-by-region)”
So, some online promotional strategies may include:
- Personal Selling (emails or videos)
- Advertising (like pay-per-click (PPC)
- Sales Promotion (contests and giveaways)
- Publicity (webinars and podcasts)
- Inbound marketing (content marketing and social media)
For the right message to reach the right customer at the right time, you need to know where they are in their customer journey as well as where they can encounter your messaging. The first will tell you what kind of message; the second will tell you where to put it.
There’s one more thing though: How will they engage with it?
Successful Promotion is about creating conversation around the product and the brand.
But, engagement is a 2-way street. Create the opportunity for interaction. This means leveraging comments, forums and user-generated content.
The Tale Telling Example
Here’s something crazy:
Obviously, content marketing is a valid promotion strategy. The trick is to create and distribute quality content. It must be relevant, informative, educational, or entertaining.
This is where we address a common misconception:
Content marketing is easy: anyone can write a blog, right?
Not so much.
How do you know it requires special skill? Well, 84% of B2B marketers outsource their content creation to an agency.
Pro tip: Outsource to a content creation agency that approaches article writing from a marketing perspective.
PEOPLE: who’s behind all this?
Interesting fact: Marketing Mix factors employees into the equation. And not just those who interface with the customer. Everyone involved with the product, either directly or indirectly.
The goal is to build trust.
Thing is: Building customer trust takes the whole team.
And the other thing is: Consistency builds trust..
Think of the customer’s relationship with your brand. Every touchpoint is an opportunity to tell your brand story, and every team member is an ambassador.
- Is everyone telling the same brand story?
- More importantly: is everyone on the team behind the brand story?
- Most importantly: does the customer experience the brand story as legitimate?
In a world of fake news, customers are searching for the real thing. Authentic marketing is concerned with honest communication about products and services. It’s about real brands telling real stories to real people.
The finest way of telling, is doing. And everyone in your organisation is part of the doing.
Trust building looks like this:
- consistent brand experiences across all touchpoints,
- knowledgeable service people who listen to the customer,
- dependable service delivery: no empty marketing promises
- natural, genuine conversation: it’s a two way street
A note about authenticity: you can’t fake it.
PROCESS: that’s how we roll
In a nutshell: Process is about creating customer loyalty.
This doesn’t sound right, does it? How can how your business does its thing have anything to do with marketing? Walk with me:
Most businesses design their processes to be efficient and easy. For the business. However, in a customer-centric model, it is the other way round.
See, it’s about convenience. When the customer’s experience is easy they’ll stick around. And they’ll be back.
Then there are the 2 magic words: Brand Consistency.
Are you telling the same brand story each time? Because this is how brand trust is built.
But the most important factor:
How is your business delivering its service at the customer interface?
What does this have to do with marketing? Way back at the beginning of this article I mentioned that it takes an accumulation of marketing actions to set the stage for the sales.
Here’s the insight:
A business purposefully designs opportunities for the customer to experience the brand. However, mechanisms must be in place to make these possible.
The American Marketing Association (AMA) tells us that, “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Turns out, there’s nothing random about it.
PROOF: Tell me it’s true.
Part of your job as a marketer is to build trust. Think about it:
No customer wants an ecommerce site to disappear with their money or their credit card details.
No business wants to find themselves without after-sales service or support.
So: are you real?
This is where online reviews come into their own. Surprisingly, they are as powerful as good old-fashioned word of mouth – even if the reader doesn’t know the reviewer. Let’s look at the numbers:
- 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal endorsement. As I said: that’s even if they don’t know the reviewer!
- 5 good reviews? The likelihood of purchase increases by a whopping 270% .
- Excellent reviews increase spend by 31%.
- 72% of consumers will only take action after reading a positive review.
Here’s something you have probably tried to avoid: the negative review.
The Run Screaming Example
Turns out that negative reviews are as important as positive ones. Yes, really. See:
- 67% of B2B buyers want to see a mix of both positive and negative reviews.
- 40% of B2B buyers say negative reviews help build product credibility.
- No negative reviews? 95% of customers are suspicious of your ratings.
Physical evidence gives the customer confidence in your product and brand. So, what proof will you include in your Marketing Mix strategy?
NEWSFLASH: Marketing Mix doesn’t work.
That’s a bit of a shocker, isn’t it.
Your carefully designed Marketing Mix strategy is doomed to failure. Doomed.
Marketing Mix doesn’t help you define your goals. And it doesn’t measure your progress.
Welcome to the P nobody is talking about: Performance.
PERFORMANCE: are we there yet?
How will you know when you’ve reached your Marketing objectives? Don’t you dare say, brand awareness, thought leadership and lead generation! In this case, you’ve relegated your Marketing to hit-or-miss.
No goals, no glory.
No clear objective? This is as bad as saying that everyone is your ideal customer … and you know how I feel about that!
Then there’s the other thing:
Marketing’s job is to create the ideal circumstances for conversion, right? Do it in 3 steps:
- Get their attention.
- Help them perceive value.
- Lower the risk of taking the next step.
Say you’re running a campaign and something’s not working. Where are the problems? Your goal gives you the end destination, but doesn’t help with the journey. However, if you’re measuring against a benchmark or a KPI, you’ll know what to fix.
So, how do you determine success factors? Here are some must-measure KPIs:
Return on Investment:
ROI is the quintessential success marker for overall marketing success. And yet, look at this crazy stat:
Only 45% of businesses measure content marketing ROI
This is different for every campaign. In fact you’ll have better insight if you measure conversion at each step of the customer journey. Here are some examples of conversions:
- an actual sale,
- a subscriber sign-up,
- a completed download,
- an opened email,
- a call-back request.
LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok: social media is excellent for brand awareness and word of mouth marketing. Measure social reach and social engagement.
All Together Now
As you can see, the P’s of Marketing Mix are interdependent. In my experience, it takes a few visits to each one before you have a cohesive strategy.
My Marketing Mix Map may make more sense now that we’ve explored each P. Take another look at the infographic. If you’ve any questions, insights, or objections please send me a message. I’d love to hear about Marketing Mix from your perspective.
So, let’s look at this system one last time.
9 Takeaways and a Tip or Two
If there’s just one thing to remember about each P, this is it:
- Product: The last thing customers want are features and benefits. They want solutions, not products.
- Persona: Not everyone is your customer. So: who is?
- Price: What is it worth to your customer? Perceived value means more than product price.
- Place: Convenience. Put your product where it’s easy for them to get it. No, even easier than that.
- Promotion: It isn’t promotion unless it is engaging.
- People: Keep your brand story straight. Every touchpoint. Every team member.
- Process: Look at the business functions that make the offer possible. What’s keeping this customer experience afloat?
- Proof: Everyone has something to say: encourage it. WOM is invaluable.
- Performance: Don’t just rinse and repeat. Measure the magic. Adjust to improve.
And finally, in the words of every Marketing coach ever:
Plan it. Live it. Achieve it.
Thank you for reading.