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The 4 Ps of Marketing: How to Apply Them to Your Business

February 28, 2022

4 ps of marketing

Marketing a business goes beyond advertising. 

While advertising is important,  you need to consider various other factors to convince prospects that your product or service is exactly what they need.

What are the 4 Ps of marketing? 

The 4 Ps of marketing - product, price, place, and promotion - also known as the marketing mix, is a popular marketing concept essential to ensure any business’ success.

This idea dates back to the 1940s, when Neil H. Borden, Professor of Advertising at the Harvard  Graduate School of Business Administration, coined the term “marketing mix”.

Borden identified the 12 components of the marketing mix:

  • Product planning
  • Pricing
  • Branding
  • Channels of distribution
  • Personal selling
  • Advertising
  • Promotions
  • Packaging
  • Displays
  • Servicing
  • Physical handling
  • Fact-finding and analysis

Later, in 1960, Edmund Jerome McCarthy, an American professor and author, developed the concept of the 4Ps of marketing in his book "Basic Marketing: A Marketing Strategy Planning Approach".

He summarized the 4 Ps as follows:

  • Product: A good or service
  • Price: The amount a customer or consumer pays for a good or service
  • Place: The location where you market a good or service
  • Promotion: How you advertise a good or service

McCarthy published his book 50 years ago, but many marketers today rely on his approach to grow their businesses and train their teams.

The first P of marketing: product

A product is a value your company creates and what people pay you for. It can be tangible (like goods) or intangible (like consulting services).

A product is the most important part of the marketing mix. Without it, you have nothing to sell. Consumers today have countless options to choose from. So if your product isn’t noticed, it’ll most likely lose to another competitor.

The 4 Ps of marketing emphasize creating a unique product. This allows you to stand out against competitors and get customers to trust you.

What does it take to build an amazing product?

If you want people to use your product, create something they love, and stand a better chance of competing.

So, how do you build a great product?

Former Evernote CEO Phil Libin highlighted two characteristics of great products.

  • Great products have a point of view. They aren’t neutral. So, the creators have a specific perspective of how the world should work through this product.
  • Great products don’t rely on the user to do anything. They should reduce or eliminate the amount of work a user needs to get things done.

Apple, the first publicly-traded company to reach $1 trillion, is an example of a great product. 

One of the things that made their product stand out was that the company's founders, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, set out to make computers user-friendly. This vision was and still is at the company’s heart and has distinguished it despite the intense competition in the technology industry.

How would you know if the market wants your product?

Building a great product is good. Guess what’s better? A product that the market actually wants. 

Simply put, if no one’s interested in your product, it won’t stand the test of time, no matter how great it is.

This is why performing in-depth market or user research before building any product is important. Proper preparations help you know what people want and don’t want.

If you want to go after a specific market, you can create an online survey to see if your target audience is interested in your product. This will help you identify pain points and know if the product you have in mind will solve them.

Let's say you want to build a team collaboration software for B2B offshore development agencies. Instead of directly building the minimum viable product (MVP), create a survey targeting your ideal audience. You can ask them various questions to confirm if you should proceed with a specific idea.

Another way to know if your product is in demand is to look at how it’s trending online. Here’s how a free tool like Google Trends can help you.

Google trendsSource: Google Trends

As you can see, searches related to remote work have been growing steadily in the last five years. This shows that a remote-work product will most likely perform well in the market.

The second P of marketing: price

The price can be defined as how you capture your product’s value. This is simply the amount your product or service is worth and what the market is willing to pay for it.

While pricing seems simple on the surface, it’s difficult to estimate. As a marketer, you want to choose a price that’s attractive to your consumers, generates sales, and ensures your business is profitable.

Conduct audience analysis. The demographics and your audience's perception of your product also affect pricing. For example, if you run B2C software for college students, you’ll likely charge a lower price. Alternatively, if you offer B2B software for enterprise companies, you set a premium price for it.

If you charge college students a higher price, chances are they won’t go for it. They may not take you seriously if you charge enterprises a cheaper price.

How to determine the right pricing for your product

When pricing your product, you don’t want to underprice yourself and end up with less profit. Also, you don’t want to overprice your product and chase customers away. 

Here are some things to keep in mind so that your pricing best suits the product.

Know your niche 

Before setting a price, you need to learn more about your industry. Check your competitors' prices and how they change over time. You should also understand what your target audience thinks about your product.

Set the goal for your pricing

You need to reason out before you price your product. Are you looking to penetrate a competitive market or establish yourself as an industry leader? 

If you’re new to an industry, starting with a low-pricing strategy might make more sense. However, if you’re selling a premium product, a higher price might appeal more to your target audience.

Conduct in-depth audience research

Some products serve one single audience persona; others work for different audiences. If you can create different audience segments, that could help you create pricing that resonates with each of them.

Calculate costs 

You incur direct and indirect costs when creating a product. Before determining your price, make sure that it covers these costs. That way, you won’t run at a loss. 

Let's say you run a web development agency, and it costs you around $499 to design a WordPress website from scratch. This includes the hosting fee, development costs, hiring costs, etc. To break even, your pricing must be above $499. Else, you would be running your agency at a loss.

Think about other factors 

Aside from the direct and indirect costs, other factors might affect your pricing as well. For example, paying a value-added tax (VAT) for the end product will influence your pricing.

Pricing strategies that work for different products

Confused about the pricing strategy for your product?

Here are different pricing strategies available and how to use them for different types of business.

 

Pricing Strategy

What it Means

When to Use

1.

Penetration pricing

Setting up a low price to generate sales and gain market share

When entering a new market with many competitors

2.

Skimming pricing

Start with an initial high price and reduce it over time

When introducing a product to different market segments

3. 

Competitor-based pricing

Fixing a price based on what your competitors are charging

When you’re in a competitive niche with lots of customer options

4.

Product line pricing

Setting different prices for products in the same range

When similar products have different features

5.

Bundle pricing

Bundling a group of products together and selling them at a reduced price

When offering a discount or promo for your audience

6.

Psychological pricing

Making a small change to the pricing makes customers think that it’s lower

When you want customers to think they’re getting the best bargain

7.

Premium pricing

Setting a high price for your product or service

To establish your product as exclusive and of high quality

8.

Optional pricing

Add optional extra items and bonuses for the customer

To make a product attractive to your target audience

9.

Cost-based pricing

Determine the exact cost for production and add a markup as profit

When you’re in an unpredictable industry or market

10.

Cost-plus pricing

Add a percentage of the profit to the product’s cost

When focused on the profit that the company can make

The third P of marketing: place

If no one knows about your product, they won’t use or recommend it to others. This is where place, the third p of marketing, comes into play. The place is the location where you deliver value to your target audience. It’s also where your target audience hangs out.

If you’re a local business serving people who live in a particular city, your local marketing will be limited to that city alone. So, a local radio station that most people in your city listen to might work well for you in this case.

With the internet, a lot of activities have gone online. So, the best way to find your target audience is online.

How to identify the right place to sell your product/service

The first thing you need to do is determine your target audience. That's because if they're not where you're looking, it might be difficult to sell to them. The best way to find out is to reach out to your new and existing customers to get the information from them.

Here are some questions you can ask them to help unravel these locations:

  • Where do you go for advice and information regarding the {x} industry?
  • What are some of the top industry blogs you read?
  • Which publications, newspapers, or magazines do you read weekly or monthly?
  • What online communities, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups are you a member of?

The different places you can leverage for any type of business

Depending on your type of business, here are a few places to convey the value of your product to your audience.

Social media platforms

Social media continues to grow every day. There are now around 4.55 billion social media users in the world. This means that social media is a great place to reach your target audience faster.

When using social media, you should understand the demographics and behavior of your target audience. If you want to target C-level B2B executives, LinkedIn might make more sense than Instagram. If your audience is mostly Gen Z who are still in college, Tiktok might work better for them.

Online communities and forums

Online communities and forums are great, too, depending on the type of business you run. Take Reddit as an example. The gaming subreddit has around 31 million members, while the technology subreddit has more than 11 million members. 

If you have a technology-related product or service, these are great places to turn to. That's because most of the people on these subreddits are also interested in learning from others and discussing these topics.

Other online communities to leverage are Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Slack communities, Quora spaces, and so on.

Review websites

Most users want to read other people's experiences about a product or service before purchasing. For this reason, review websites are a great way to convey your product’s value to your target audience.

If you're a local business owner, you can create a profile on Yelp to showcase your business to your audience. If you have a software or services company, you can use the power of G2 to show prospects what customers think of your product.

Apart from helping you collect reviews and testimonials from existing customers, review websites also make your product or service discoverable in the search engines.

The fourth P of marketing: promotion

The final and most popular marketing mix is ​​promotion. This is simply how you communicate the value of your product or service to your target audience.

Promoting your value is important because your audience’s perception determines whether or not they want to use your product or service. One of the most effective ways to communicate this is by talking about your product. 

While many business owners are afraid to promote their products because they don't want to sound salesy. However, if you have a great product and aren't actively promoting it to your target audience, you're doing them a disservice.

Here’s a quick example. 

Let's say you're a software company competing in a crowded niche. One of the ways to help your audience discover your product is to use a pain-point content marketing strategy.

This way, you can show your target group why they should use your product over other options. You can do this by creating a comparison post, alternative page, best {X} products page, and more. And you have a better chance of converting people who stumble across these pages into user sign-ups and paying customers for your SaaS.

That means if you don't tell anyone about your product or show them why it's better than other competitors, they won't find or use it.

How you should approach promotion for any business

The best way to promote your business is to understand your audience's pain points and create content that helps solve these problems.

For example, if your target audience is CMOs who want their marketing teams to be more productive, creating a content piece that shows them tips and tools for improved productivity works wonders. And if you have a relevant service or product to solve this problem, you can mention that as well.

The truth is, when you help people and add value to their lives, they pay attention to you and are likely to pay you to solve their problems.

Promotion strategies that work and how different companies use them

Below are some promotion strategies you can leverage for your business.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

One of the most reliable and proven ways to promote a business online is SEO. It allows you to optimize certain web pages to rank in search engines, especially Google.

SEO determines how your page or website appears when someone searches for keywords relevant to your product or service. This is effective as many people search on Google every day. In fact, Google processes over 4 billion searches per day.

The downside of SEO is that it usually takes a long time to deliver results that amplify over time. A good example of a company leveraging SEO to promote its business over the years is HubSpot. HubSpot's blog receives about 8 million visitors from organic traffic each month and ranks for about 3 million keywords.

Webinars

Hosting webinars is an effective way to promote your business online. This works really well because it involves interacting live with prospects and customers.

Seventy-six percent of businesses believe hosting webinars helps them reach more leads, and 69% believe it has helped them scale their marketing efforts.

The disadvantage of webinars is that it takes a lot of resources and time to create one. If you're not good with videos, it might not work well for you. The advantage over other advertising channels is that it leads to more conversions. For example, if someone attends a webinar for 45 to 60 minutes, they’re more likely to be convinced to use your product or service.

One company that has harnessed the power of webinar tools to boost its business is Monday. They have a daily webinar hub on their website. You can register for a live and on-demand webinar from the company. They also have webinars in other languages ​​to cater to their non-English speaking audience.

Google Business Profile

Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), is another effective promotional strategy for business owners. This is highly beneficial for local businesses serving a specific audience in a city, state, or county.

Anyone with a Gmail account can easily create a Google listing. Once you create and optimize this profile, your business shows up on Google when someone searches for it near you.

With this tool, you can know how customers found your business and what actions they took before contacting you. You can also interact with them, share images of your products, and easily get reviews.

The benefit of using this free tool is that it's easy to set up. However, if you're in a location with a lot of small businesses, it can be difficult to get a foothold quickly.

Paid advertising

Paid advertising is another great way to promote a business online. When you advertise, you reach your audience right where they are and convince them to use your product or service.

You can use various advertising channels to promote a business, including:

  • Paid search: Bidding on keywords that your audience is searching for on Google. In this case, your website shows up in the search engines when someone searches for the keyword you bid on.
  • Paid social: Run ads on various social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Paid social helps your ads reach a specific audience based on your selected targeting options when creating the ads.
  • Podcast sponsorship: Reach out to popular and relevant podcasts in your niche to sponsor them. Once sponsored, the Podcast host mentions your product or service before, during, or after the Podcast’s episode.
  • Newsletter sponsorship or advertising: Sponsoring a newsletter in your niche to reach readers. The newsletter can mention your product or service before the body or within the newsletter, depending on the agreement.

With paid advertising, you can reach your target audience quickly and, in most cases, see ROI immediately. However, these don’t add up. Once you stop promoting, you stop getting results.

Newsletters

About 4.3 billion people around the world use email. This shows that email is a huge promotional channel any business can use. It's a personal communication channel for most people, so they check it regularly.

You may see excellent results by creating valuable and helpful content for your audience and delivering it via email. 

Other promotion channels include:

  • Virtual events
  • Podcasting
  • Medium publications
  • Videos
  • Community marketing

How do the 4 Ps of marketing work?  

When the 4 Ps of marketing work together, it becomes easier to deliver predictable results for your business. You need to be consistent with your marketing across the board. Otherwise, you risk losing your audience’s trust.

For example, if you sell a high-quality B2B product, promoting it on TikTok can bring poor results. This is because a B2B audience may not even know a platform like TikTok exists, so they don't go there.

Also, if you’re just starting in an industry, you may need to spend more time promoting your products or services. This may not be the case if you are a market leader in your niche.

The illustration below shows how to apply the 4 Ps of marketing in any business.

4ps of marketingSource: BBC

How to grow your business using the 4 Ps of marketing 

To grow a business successfully, you need the 4 Ps of marketing. First, you should have a clear idea of ​​what you’re selling and why it’s different from anything else out there.

Here are some fundamental questions to ask:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What do you want to sell to them?
  • What is your market size?
  • What exactly is the market looking for?
  • What gap in the market does your product fulfill?
  • How is your product different from others?

Second, you need to set the prices for your product. This must match the type of product you’re selling.

At this stage, answer the following questions:

  • How important is the product’s pricing to your target audience?
  • Will the pricing be enough for you to make profits?
  • What are your competitors currently charging for this product?
  • Will your target audience have any problems paying the price? 
  • What is the lowest amount you’re willing to accept for this product?

Additionally, determine where to find your target audience and convey your message and value proposition via those channels.

Ask:

  • What online habits do your prospects and customers have?
  • Where are competitors currently selling their products?
  • How much does it cost to reach your customers in a specific channel?
  • What kind of support do the customers need before purchasing the product?
  • How seamless is the buying experience?

Finally, promote your product to your target audience.

Find out:

  • Who exactly do you want to sell to?
  • What channels will you use to reach them?
  • What content marketing strategy would you like to focus on?
  • How are competitors currently promoting their products/services?
  • What resources do you need to do this successfully?
  • What does the buyer journey look like?

More than just the 4Ps

Building a business from scratch is difficult. You need to create a great product that can successfully compete in your niche, set a price point that resonates with your target audience, and grow your business. Additionally, you should also identify places where your target audience hangs out and deliver the expected value.

Leverage advanced marketing strategies to predictably and successfully develop a business in any niche.

Account-based marketing (ABM) software
Identify target accounts on the go

Use ABM software to create unified marketing and sales messaging for your target accounts.

Account-based marketing (ABM) software
Identify target accounts on the go

Use ABM software to create unified marketing and sales messaging for your target accounts.

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