The 7Ps of marketing
- 10 March 2023
The 7Ps of marketing are product, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical evidence.
This post and more is contained within our CIM ebook, 7Ps: a brief summary of marketing and how it works.
Learn the 7Ps and you're well on your way to having your marketing fundamentals completed. Use the links below to jump to the one you want to learn more about:
P1 - Product
There is no point in developing a product or service that no one wants to buy, yet many businesses decide what to offer first, then hope to find a market for it afterwards. Successful companies find out what customers need or want and then develop the right product with the right level of quality to meet their expectations, both now and in the future.
- A product does not have to be tangible – an insurance policy can be a product.
- The perfect product provides value for the customer. This value is in the eye of the beholder — we must give our customers what they want, not what we think they want.
- Ask yourself whether you have a system in place to regularly check what your customers think of your product and your supporting services.
- Find out what their needs are now and whether they believe these will change in future.
- Beware the product quality trap – don’t take it too far by trying to sell a Rolls-Royce when the customer really wants a Nissan Micra.
P2 - Price
A product is only worth what customers are prepared to pay for it. The price needs to be competitive, but this doesn’t mean you have to be the cheapest in your market – small businesses can compete with larger rivals by offering a more personal service, value-adds or better value for money. You also need to make a profit. Pricing is the only element of the marketing mix that generates revenue — everything else represents a cost to you. When considering the price of your product, it’s important to look at it from the customer’s perspective:
- Price positions you in the marketplace — it tells customers where to place you in relation to your competitors.
- The more you charge, the more value or quality your customers will expect for their money.
- This is a relative measure. If you are the most expensive provider in your market, customers will expect you to provide a better service.
- Everything that the customer sees must be consistent with these higher quality expectations — packaging, environment, promotional materials, website, letterheads, invoices, etc.
- Existing customers are generally less sensitive about price than new customers — a good reason to look after them well.
P3 - Place
The product must be available in the right place, at the right time and in the right quantity, while keeping storage, inventory and distribution costs at an acceptable level. The place where customers buy a product, and the means of distributing your product to that place, must be appropriate and convenient for the customer. This applies to brick-and-mortar operations, but is even more important in e-commerce.
- Customer surveys show that delivery performance is one of the most important criteria when choosing a supplier.
- Place also means ways of displaying your product to customer groups. This could be in a shop window, but it could also be online.
- E-commerce operations that sell exclusively on the internet must place even more emphasis on the company website and other online activities, as there are fewer points where the customer will interact with the company.
- For the same reason, all firms that sell online should consider how the product will be delivered to the consumer – even if this is handled by a third party.
- Mobile is an increasingly important purchasing channel for consumers, so it may be a good time to optimise your website. Does yours conform to the latest standards? For example, Google search now penalises websites that are not optimised for mobile, potentially making it more difficult for consumers to find you.
P4 - Promotion
Promotion is the way a company communicates what it does and what it can offer customers. It includes branding, advertising, PR, corporate identity, social media outreach, sales management, special offers and exhibitions. Promotion must gain attention, be appealing, send a consistent message and - above all - give the customer a reason to choose your product rather than someone else’s.
- Good promotion is not one-way communication — it paves the way for a dialogue with customers, whether in person or online.
- Promotion should communicate the benefits that a customer receives from a product, not just its features.
- Your website is often the customer’s first experience of your company – you only have one chance to make a good first impression, so make sure that information on the site is always kept up to date and the design is updated to keep it fresh.
- Explore new channels – from traditional print ads to the latest social media trends, there is now a world of possibilities to explore. The important principle is to always advertise where your target consumer goes.
- Printed promotional material must grab the attention of your customers. It should be easy to read and enable the customer to identify why they should buy your product – A brochure isn’t necessarily the best way of promoting your business. Unlike your website, the information is fixed once a brochure has been printed. A more cost-effective and flexible option might be a folder with a professionally designed sheet inside, over a series of your own information sheets produced in-house. These sheets can be customised by varying them to suit the target customers and/or changing them as required
- Promotion does not just mean communicating with your customers. It is just as important to communicate with staff/fellow employees about the value and attributes of your products. They can then pass on the knowledge to their customers.
P5 - People
Everyone who comes into contact with your customers will make an impression. Many customers cannot separate the product or service from the staff member who provides it, so your people will have a profound effect — positive or negative — on customer satisfaction.
- The reputation of your brand rests in the hands of your staff. They must be appropriately trained, well-motivated and have the right attitude.
- All employees who have contact with customers should be well-suited to the role.
- In the age of social media, every employee can potentially reach a mass audience. Formulate a policy for online interaction and make sure everyone stays on message.
- Likewise, happy customers are excellent advocates for your business. Curate good opinion on review sites.
- Superior after-sales support and advice adds value to your offering, and can give you a competitive edge. These services will probably become more important than price for many customers over time.
- Look regularly at the products that account for the highest percentage of your sales. Do these products have adequate after-sales support, or are you being complacent with them? Could you enhance your support without too much additional cost?
P6 - Process
Many customers no longer simply buy a product or service - they invest in an entire experience that starts from the moment they discover your company and lasts through to purchase and beyond.
- That means the process of delivering the product or service, and the behaviour of those who deliver it, are crucial to customer satisfaction. A user-friendly internet experience, waiting times, the information given to customers and the helpfulness of staff are vital to keep customers happy.
- Customers are not interested in the detail of how your business runs, just that the system works. However, they may want reassurance they are buying from a reputable or ‘authentic’ supplier.
- Remember the value of a good first impression. Identify where most customers initially come into contact with your company - whether online or offline - and ensure the process there, from encounter to purchase, is seamless.
- Ensure that your systems are designed for the customer’s benefit, not the company’s convenience.
- Do customers have to wait?
- Are they kept informed?
- Is your website fast enough and available on the right devices?
- Are your people helpful?
- Is your service efficiently carried out?
- Do your staff interact in a manner appropriate to your pricing?
Customers trying to reach your company by phone are a vital source of income and returning value, but all too often they're left on hold. Many will give up, go elsewhere and tell their friends not to use your company - just because of the poor process.
P7 - Physical evidence
Choosing an unfamiliar product or service is risky for the consumer, because they don’t know how good it will be until after purchase. You can reduce this uncertainty by helping potential customers ‘see’ what they are buying.
- A clean, tidy and well-decorated reception area – or homepage - is reassuring. If your digital or physical premises aren’t up to scratch, why would the customer think your service is?
- The physical evidence demonstrated by an organisation must confirm the assumptions of the customer — a financial services product will need to be delivered in a formal setting, while a children’s birthday entertainment company should adopt a more relaxed approach.
- Some companies engage customers and ask for their feedback, so that they can develop reference materials. New customers can then see these testimonials and are more likely to purchase with confidence.
- Although the customer cannot experience the service before purchase, he or she can talk to other people with experience of the service. Their testimony is credible, because their views do not come from the company. Alternatively, well-shot video testimonials and reviews on independent websites will add authenticity.
Each of the ‘ingredients’ of the marketing mix is key to success. No element can be considered in isolation — you cannot, for example, develop a product without considering a price, or how it will reach the customer.
The process of considering the seven Ps and pulling them together to form a cohesive strategy is called marketing planning.
Want to read more about the fundamentals of marketing? Check out our other posts in the series, What is marketing and Planning a marketing strategy, or take a look at our marketing fundamentals course which has all of this info and more to get you immersed in everything marketing.
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