A few key elements form the core of all businesses and business leaders know these as the Four Ps of marketing. A right strategy that uses these elements will mean increased market share and success, while a misstep in even one could lead to problems and stagnation.
Entrepreneurs who run small business have to be on their toes to stay on top of the latest trends in marketing to take on the competition. Using the Four Ps of marketing correctly can help you to secure a strong position in the market place and continuously scale the business to new heights.
Understanding the Four Ps:
The Four Ps of marketing are Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. When you break down a business to these four key elements and identify the appropriate strategy for each one, it is called a marketing mix. Every entrepreneur knows that the company sells a product at a price in a specific market with some form of promotion. However, a closer look at the marketing mix of different companies will show that each firm has a different story to tell, and it is important to introspect about these elements in order to get the best results rather than having a superficial understanding of the subject.
The centre of gravity of all businesses is the good or the service that it is offering. Making a quality product is just the first step. You also need to know how your product stands out in the market place.
If your product doesn’t have a unique quality that sets it apart, it will be nearly impossible to grow the business. While developing a new product listen to customers and see what specific needs you can fill or problems you can solve. This thought process can help your company to constantly innovate and create a loyal fan base and raving customers.
Each product in the market has certain characteristics that affects how you plan for it. Some products like a box of juice have shorter shelf life and are subject to seasonal demand. A product like a luxury watch on the other hand has a longer product life cycle. As a small business owner, you need to have a strong understanding of your product and the industry before formulating your strategies.
Gone are the days when a small business owner could price the product by simply calculating the cost and then adding a profit margin on top. One has to understand the market before fixing the price. A low-cost product can be perceived to be cheap and of low quality in some markets while a high-quality product that is too expensive may not get any buyers.
There are different pricing strategies to choose from, but ultimately the entrepreneur has to make sure that the price delivers the right message about the value of the product. Even if you are offering an inexpensive good and you can’t alter the price, you can help create a perception of higher quality by tweaking the packaging.
If you have a regular product that average Joe consumes, then a well-timed discount may work. But, if it is a luxury product, the emphasis should not be on slashing the price but rather on marketing it more aggressively.
At the heart of a marketing campaign is the idea of understanding the customer. A few small business owners wrongly believe that marketing means buying up ad space.
Marketing techniques have evolved and have become much more sophisticated, but what you have to realize is that you are not just selling your product or service to the customer. What you are marketing is the value proposition the product or service offers to people.
Since you know what makes your product unique in the market, it is this idea that needs to be conveyed. While marketing your product or service, don’t just describe what it is, but rather focus on how your product can fulfill your customers’ needs.
Promotion is not just about advertisement. It can also be free publicity through the media. Several new media startups in the online space love to talk to enterprising leaders who have an interesting story to tell or an exciting new product in the market.
You can also build a reputation through word of mouth. Having a stall at a local event and giving away free samples or inviting people to taste your product are just some of the ways you can get the word out.
Deciding where to sell is a daunting task for many small businesses. While multinationals have the scale to take everything online or take up huge commercial spaces at malls, it can be a little tricky when you don't have that kind of financial muscle. Still, if you know your customers well and know where to find them, there are creative ways to reach them and sell your products.
Small business can compete with multi-billion-dollar companies by being creative in designing the right distribution strategy. Selling online, for instance, doesn't just have to be about listing your products on Amazon. You can have a store on Facebook and other social media platforms. You can also setup your own website to sell directly if you have loyal customers who swear by your product.
Getting It Right:
The Four Ps of marketing are common to all businesses, but each firm has its own blend of these elements to create a marketing mix that works. You have to find the right marketing mix for your business. The key to success is constantly exploring and innovating in terms of the product, the promotion, and the distribution strategy.
Do not keep repeating something because everybody else is doing it or some expert suggested it. See what works your business and change things that are not giving you the desired results.