All your life, you had a dream to open a restaurant or start a new family business, something small but sustainable like a grocery store, that will pull in some income and ensure the security for your children and family over time. But the problem is you have never started a business, and the competition seems heavy in the area. People seem to prefer the big brands to your local, rather unknown brand. What do you do now? You cover the basics!
A strong foundation is the key to a successful business, and in this article we will cover what you need to achieve that. It all starts at the concept called ‘Marketing Mix’.
The Marketing Mix is essentially a business tool, which is used by industry players and business owners to help determine what exactly the product or brand is offering. Call it a plan before the plan, that aids in understanding the layout of what the business will be about. Now to properly understand how the Marketing Mix works, one needs to know ‘The 7ps of Marketing’. Originally conceived by E. Jerome McCarthy, in his book ‘Basic Marketing A Managerial Approach (1960)’, it was coined as the ‘The 4ps of Marketing’.
In order to get the customers' attention, your brand needs to be very clear in terms of what it is offering them. Think of marketing mix as the right balance of elements for the perfect marketing recepie.
The Original 4Ps Of The Marketing Mix
This is exactly what it sounds like, it is the physical product or service that the business offers to the customers, that is expected to perform a specific role. The product should live up to the expectation and give the customers exactly what they came looking for in the first place.
A company or business’s ultimate goal is to make a profit and the best way to do that is to reduce production and manufacturing cost of the product. The aim is to find the right balance between providing a low-cost product/service while maintaining the quality and value of that product/service, to increase the perceived value of that product in the eyes of the customer. That is to say, give them value for their money. A core concept in profitable marketing is to provide such quality, that the customer is usually happy to pay extra.
Convenience is the name of the game here. The service or product should reach customers where it is easiest for them to get it. This could be at a shopping mall where a lot of people come and go, or now in the case of COVID, through online pre-ordering and delivery services, to make them feel safe and secure while still having access to the product.
A good example of this is Swiggy, having re-branded their delivery services as sanitary, safe and easy – straight to your door. This screams of convenience and minimal effort from the customer’s side, while simultaneously appealing to their concern for safety.
A business is nothing without its promotion (advertisement). This refers to all the different marketing tools that communicate your brand’s purpose and product to the masses in an efficient and wide-spread manner to provide the most reach. It can be print advertisements, social media posts, word-of-mouth sales, online marketing, e-mail marketing or even public relations to name a few. The point is to get the business’s name out into the world in a fast and effective way.
The Evolution Into The 7Ps
Given that these ‘Ps of Marketing’ were conceived in the 60s it stands to reason that the times have changed since then and will continue to change. This being the case, the marketing world as a whole believed that it was about time that these principles were updated. This led to the addition of the last 3Ps that make up a total of 7ps. In 1981 two economists by the name of Bernard H. Booms and Mary J. Bitner saw how effective the 4ps were and sought to add value to it in the evolving market situation of the time. They formulated the points: People, Process and Physical Evidence.
These principles were added as an extension of the original four and are seen as the ideal list of directives (a check-list) needed for a polished approach to the ideal business strategy. It is also known as service methodology because that’s the approach that most, if not all businesses take today in terms of their approach to applying these directives.
The focus is, as it should be, on the service to the customer because a business without customers is not business at all. Don’t let this confuse you, it all means the same thing. It’s about customer satisfaction and to what lengths the business should and could go to provide that service of quality.
The Extended List
A business is only as strong as the people who help run it every day. This includes everyone from the CEO to the receptionist at the front desk. It refers to all the people who work to promote the brand. Given that without them, the entire structure would cease to operate. It makes sense to include this as one of the seven core principles.
The process has a variety of meanings within the marketing and business world but if we were to simplify, it means the process of communication or the interface that the customers have with the business. That is to say, how the service or product is delivered to the customer or the ‘process’ by which the company operates and upholds its practice of customer service.
The last ‘P’ on this list boils down to the material side of the business. The tangible elements like the building, which is the point of business, the products that the customer gets to take home in their hands or the benefits they get from your business. That which can be seen, touched or accounted for in the real world.
Is There An 8th P?
Now, officially speaking there are only 7ps, but in some business theories and practices, there is the so-called 8th P that stands as a directive, aside from the core seven that were mentioned above. It is a varied debate on what the 8th P stands for, but the consensus seems to be that it stands for Productivity and Quality. In the sense, what are you as a business, bringing to the table and what do the customers get out of it?
It isn’t so much about the productivity in operations and productions as it is about the productivity with which the business brings top-of-the-line quality to the customers. If you stop to think about it, this directive is important. A high-quality product will perform better in a competition-heavy market, in-fact, that might be the make-or-break of the business at the end of the day.
Quality is always a must in any line of business. So, more often than not, the 8th will come into play, even when you do not realise it.
How Does All This Tie Into The ‘Marketing Mix’?
The Marketing Mix is essentially like a soup, the soup whose ingredients are these seven, or in special cases, eight principles/ingredients. Every company has its unique blend of these elements at different ratios. Just like a soup, you put in certain ingredients at different ratios for your preferred flavour. The same applies to the Marketing Mix. Sometimes not all the points are included, sometimes only one or two. This all depends on what works best for your business.
Sony, for example, is a very well-known global brand. Their Marketing Mix consists of a product-centric approach where the product does the branding for them and carries the company name. They emphasise on physical evidence, which the customer can see and the promotion takes place automatically as the product sells because it carries the name on it. The key, however, is that they have employees across the globe. People are a big part of their strategy and they have a lot of them. This is their unique blend, that works for them because of the nature of their product.
How Do I Use All This To Help My Business?
Even though these principles were thought of in the 60s, and only updated in the 80s, they still remain relevant in today’s economy. The way you need to look at it is, as a guideline of sorts. Understand what the individual concepts are, that is, the 7ps or 8ps as you prefer. Then see where they fit into your brand’s identity. Which of them, at which specific ratio brings out the best for your brand? According to that, you need to form a ‘Marketing Mix’. Make it a unique blend so the brand can thrive.
To learn more on this aspect of branding and building up the business, go and check out our article, ‘Branding’.