Real marketing doesn’t start with promotion.
A quick guide to the 7 marketing Ps.
One of the things I sometimes face as a marketing consultant is being brought in to promote a product or service after the main marketing event has happened.
By main marketing event I mean that products and services have already been created, prices selected and a target audience identified.
So in fact, the client doesn’t want me to help with the marketing – they are actually just looking for promotion (also called marketing communications).
The company is now looking at me to now promote their wares, that are perhaps not selling as speedily as they had envisaged. Unfortunately, a single marketing promotion or even several promotions won’t speed up sales if the product, pricing or people it’s aimed at (target audience) are not right.
These words beginning with P – Product, Pricing, People and Promotion are known as the marketing Ps. The additional ones being: Place, Positioning and Packaging. These are known as the 7 marketing Ps
Marketing is not just promotion, promotion is just part of the marketing story. Here is the rest of it:
Strengths and weaknesses
Try to look at your product through the eyes of your customers. What do they see as the really good points of your offering? What bits might they not be so impressed with?
The list of good points are your strengths. Now think which of these good points are superior to your competitors? If you can’t see any superior benefits, what can you do to create one? This will help you to find your USP (unique selling point).
Address the list of negative points – identify how improvements can be made and implement them.
Be honest with yourself – are these the right products and services for our customers today?
Finding the benefits
When you look at your product, think FAB, this stands for Features, Attributes and Benefits. Customers only really care about the benefits.
For example, a feature on a car might be power steering, the attribute is power steering makes the car easy to handle and the benefit to the customer is power steering makes it easier to drive.
A feature on a car is air conditioning, the attribute is it keeps the car at the right temperate and the benefit is air conditioning keeps the customer’s body comfortable.
If you haven’t already, try doing this exercise for all of your products and services. You can then highlight the customer benefits in your marketing promotions.
Continuously review your pricing
Constantly evaluate your pricing. Look at your business environment, are the prices still appropriate? Sometimes you will need to lower them, other times it might be appropriate to increase your prices.
You may find that a certain service or product is not generating enough profit relative to the effort going in to producing it. By raising your prices you may loose some customers but the remaining customers will be suitably profitable.
Evaluate payment methods and terms
Changing the method of payment or payment terms can help to increase profitability and retain customers.
For example, I recently worked with a cleaning company who were only dealing in cash and cheque payment. Late bills and hours of admin chasing payments was costing them dear. By incentivising customers with a small discount to switch to direct debit, they now collect smaller amounts, more regularly and on time – so cash flow has improved. They have also seen an increase in customer retention.
Be open to the possibilities of changing and adapting your pricing strategy to stay ahead of the competition.
This is how you tell your customers about your products and services so that they buy them. The list is pretty endless, but types of marketing promotions include:
Advertising – print advertising, online advertising, tv advertising, outdoor advertising
Direct marketing – direct mail, leafleting, direct email, SMS, direct selling, telemarketing,
Interactive marketing – websites, social media, pay per click advertising, remarketing, viral marketing, virtual reality marketing
Sales promotion – discounts, special offers, in store promotions
Public relations – press and media relations, events, social media, content marketing
Never rely on one type of promotion, even if it is working now it is unlikely to work forever. Instead pick several methods and continually test and measure, with the aim of improving results each time.
This is the place where the product or service is sold to the customer. It is important to identify the places that are the most successful for making sales for your company. This is likely to be the place where you can most clearly and effectively get across all the essential information for the buying decision.
Here are some examples of places:
- Direct selling, sending out sales people to meet the customer personally and talk through the product or service
- Trade shows
- Retail establishments
- Through a reseller network
Look at every element of your product or service packaging through the eyes of a critical potential customer. Keep in mind people will form their first impression of you within 30 seconds of seeing you or some element of your company.
Small improvements can often have a big impact.
When looking at packaging think in terms of everything that the customer sees from the first moment of contact all the way through the purchasing process.
Packaging refers to the way your product or service appears from the outside. Packaging also refers to the appearance of your people. It refers to your offices, your waiting rooms, your brochures, your correspondence and every single visual element about your company. Everything counts. Everything helps or hurts. Everything affects your customer’s confidence about dealing with you.
How are you positioned in the hearts and minds of your customers? How do people think and talk about you when you’re not present? How do people think and talk about your company? What positioning do you have in your market, in terms of the specific words people use when they describe you and your offerings to others?
In the famous book by Al Reis and Jack Trout, Positioning, the authors point out that how you are seen and thought about by your customers is the critical factor that will determine your success in a competitive marketplace.
Most customers think of you in terms of a single attribute, either positive or negative. Sometimes it’s “service.” Sometimes it’s “excellence.” Sometimes it’s “quality engineering,” as with Mercedes Benz. Sometimes it’s “the ultimate driving machine,” as with BMW. In every case, how deeply entrenched that attribute is in the minds of your customers and prospective customers determines how readily they’ll buy your product or service and how much they’ll pay. (Exert from Million Dollar Habits)
If you could create the ideal impression in the hearts and minds of your customers, what would it be? What would you have to do in every customer interaction to get your customers to think and talk about your company in that specific way? What changes do you need to make in the way you interact with customers today in order to be seen as the very best choice for your customers of tomorrow?
These are people inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales and marketing strategy and activities.
One of the first things that you should do as a small business or start up is get the right people in. Many of the best business plans ever developed sit on shelves today because, the people who created them, could not find the key people to execute those plans.