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Use this framework to design the marketing mix

This business model is useful for designing the marketing mix.

The 4P framework is the invention of Edmund McCarthy, an American marketing Professor. He launched the framework in 1960 in a book called Basic Marketing: a managerial approach.

If anyone ever asks you what marketing is all about, tell them about the 4Ps. It is a simple model that embraces the whole of marketing. It is a schema for the old saying "marketing is about getting the right product to the right place at the right price". The 4P framework's greatest strength is its simplicity. For any target audience, it describes essential components of the marketing mix:

Product – This is what a company has to sell. It may not be a physical product; it could just as easily be a service or a product accompanied by a service. It is nevertheless what the company offers. Arguably, the product is the most important part of the marketing mix. It defines who will buy it, how much they will pay, what features they will find appealing and where it could be sold.

Questions that need to be answered to determine that the product is right for its market are:

  • What benefits does the product provide to the customer? How do these benefits solve the customer’s problem?

  • What type of customers are the most likely targets for the product? What are their demographics, their behaviours, their attitudes and their psychographic profiles? How would they be described as a segment?

  • How will the customer use the product? How frequently will they use it? When will they replace it?

  • What would the customer do if the product wasn’t available?

Price – Price is the component of the 4Ps that collects revenue.  The other 3Ps incur costs.  The price that someone is prepared to pay for a product is the “bargain”. From the customer’s point of view it is a figure that is worth paying to obtain the product and from the supplier’s point of view, it is a figure that covers the costs of production and collects (hopefully) sufficient to make a profit.

Questions that need to be answered to determine that the price is right for its market are:

  • How do customers perceive value in the product? What are the key benefits that they value? What monetary value is put on each of these benefits?

  • To what extent do customers perceive the lifetime value of the product (how long it lasts, the degree of maintenance that is required, any resale value etc)?

  • What are competitors’ prices for a similar product? To what extent is the product perceived to be better or worse than competitors’ products?

Promotion – People need to be aware of the availability of products and they need to be convinced of their value. Promotion is the means by which this communication takes place. The promotion could be any part of a mix that includes adverts in newspapers, magazines, journals, the TV and radio. It could also include direct marketing such as flyers or emails. Exhibitions, public relations, and point-of-sale material are part of the promotional mix.

Questions that need to be answered to determine that the promotion is right for its market are:

  • What is the reach of the promotion? How many customers/potential customers will see it?

  • What is the impact of the promotion? To what extent will it stop people in their tracks and capture their interest?

  • What is the relevance of the promotion? Is it something that the customer is interested in? Do the messages resonate?

  • What is the call to action? What will potential customers do next?

Place – The product (or service) is made available somewhere for the customer. This could be in a shop, online, or direct from the manufacturer. It is the channel (or channels) by which the product is distributed.

Questions that need to be answered to determine that the place is right for its market are:

  • What are the channels that are most used by the customer for this type of product?

  • What penetration of the channels can be achieved?

  • What are the opportunities for finding new routes to market – i.e. alternative channels?

  • What does each of the organisations in the channel require in terms of margin and service support?

  • How will the product stand out from competitive products in the channel?

It should be clear from the above that the 4P’s are not aimed at just anybody; they are aimed specifically at a target audience. The four essential ingredients of the marketing mix are often referred to as hygiene factors. If the company fails on any one of them, the marketing strategy will fail.

It should be noted that this most popular marketing model sometimes enjoys three additional Ps.


  • People: they make the product, sell it, service it and create relationships with customers. They are an essential part of the offer.

  • Process: this is the means by which the products is produced and brought to market. The efficiency of the processes can determine the success of the overall offer.

  • Physical evidence: in some cases the physical environment can be an important part of the offer. This is particularly the case in retail outlets where the ambiance of the place can have a big influence on the marketing.

Of course these Ps are critical for success but there is a magic ingredient that shouldn't be forgotten, even though it doesn't begin with a P - it is customer service. Make sure that customer service is part of the offer - in which case it could be argued it is a part of "Product".

Some things to think about:

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