At the heart of all marketing is the customer - a company plans its marketing strategy based on the wants, needs and desires of its customers.
To have a successful marketing plan you need to address key issues: what a company is going to produce; how much it is going to charge; how is it going to deliver its products or services to the customer; and how it is going to tell its customers about its products or services.
This is where the 7 Ps of marketing, also referred to as the marketing mix, come into play.
So what are the 7 Ps of marketing?
As previously mentioned– at the heart of all marketing is the customer. There is no point in developing a product or service that no one wants to buy. A successful company will build its product or service based on the wants and needs of its customers. A product doesn’t have to be tangible – an insurance policy or TV package can be a product – as long as it’s a service your customer needs.
Make sure you keep an eye out for shift changes in customer needs and regularly check what your customers think of your product and supporting services. Customer feedback is vital and can be undertaken through several methods, including focus groups, surveys and sizing up the competition. Look at your competitors’ use of social media, customer service and marketing, and try to find out what your potential customers think of these services. This will help you to identify areas for improvement.
There are a number of key issues to address with pricing. Firstly, a product is only worth what customers are prepared to pay for it. This is where customer research comes in handy – it will certainly make your life easier with budgeting if you have a rough idea how much your customer is prepared to spend. Secondly, the price of your product needs to be competitive. You may be able to gain the upper-hand on larger companies though by adding extra services or add-ons, offering customers better value for money.
Thirdly, your pricing is the only element that generates revenue so it must provide a profit. This links back to what customers are prepared to pay, so make sure you do your research and prepare a budget for costs that reflects the profit margin you expect to get. Whilst it is important that your pricing is competitive, do not undersell your product because this will raise questions with the customer. Trust your product or service and its worth, and use the other 7 P’s to ensure the customer can justify the price.
This is an important aspect of your marketing strategy because where you distribute your product should be convenient for the customer. It all comes down to the product being available in the right place and at the right time. This is not just limited to physical places though, such as retail stores. Websites and affiliate networks also count as places where you can distribute products or services for sale.
Nevertheless, make sure you do your research. Customer surveys are a great source of information for determining where the best places are to distribute your products.
This includes activities such as branding, advertising, PR, corporate identity, special offers and exhibitions. Promotion is a great way to encourage customers to choose your product rather than someone else’s. It must communicate the benefits of your product and portray a consistent message. It’s also a great tool for building trust with your current customers, and most importantly, your potential customers. Remember, how you promote your product will determine what your customers think of you and your service.
Although most of this activity could be done by yourself and your employees, it could also be beneficial to outsource these tasks to a marketing agency. Promotions can help a business thrive if done correctly, however it could end up not as profitable as you first expected. A marketing agency will take into account your budget requirements and will propose a marketing strategy that best reflects your company and the message you want to convey. There can also be many benefits to working with an agency, such as linking with industry relevant contacts, therefore helping your brand to reach a wider audience.
It’s very important that the people selling your product or service are appropriately trained as they are the first point of call for your customers. The impression they leave on your customers will have a profound effect, and could determine whether you keep or lose that customer, so make sure you have the right people on board to sell your product.
People also covers your customers and potential clients. A target audience is a specific group of people within the target market of a product or service. Determining who your target audience is depends on a number of factors – What problems will you solve? Who will gain from the value in your offer? Who do you want to work with? What else is available? These questions will help you to narrow your target audience down to factors such as age group, gender, marital status, geographic location and interests.
How you deliver your product or service is essential to customer satisfaction. Issues such as waiting times and the information given to customers are all crucial to keep your customers happy. The main thing to think about here is communication – is your service efficiently carried out? Has your member of staff been helpful? How you communicate and deliver your service to customers will have a lasting effect on customer satisfaction. Management systems are useful for keeping employees organised and updated about schedule activities, therefore making your distribution activity more time and cost effective.
There are many systems in place to help you sell your product or service. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help to manage an organisation's interactions with its customers and can include the following functions: Customer Data Management, Interaction Tracking, Workflow Automation and Reporting. CRM systems such as Salesforce, Sage and Infusionsoft focus on sales management and customer service, helping organisations to manage customer accounts, track sales leads and provide service post sale. These types of systems can reduce the amount of money a company spends whilst improving its relationships with customers.
A service cannot be experienced before it’s delivered, so there is a big risk for the customer because they are buying something they have never tried before. A great way to reduce uncertainty with customers is to provide case studies and testimonials. These can provide evidence that an organisation keeps its promises because they are written by people whose views do not come from the company.
Additionally, keeping your premises, i.e. reception area, clean and tidy can help to reassure your customers. If your premises are dirty and messy, would you expect the customer to trust your service? This all ties into how you promote your brand, and how you promote it will determine how you are perceived in the market place.
Together, the 7 Ps of marketing are your key to success. You cannot develop a product or service without considering a price or how you plan to the promote it or your marketing plan will not work and your product will not sell. Always remember the customer is your first priority in any marketing strategy you plan, and as long as you follow this and the 7 Ps, there is no reason why your product or service should not be successful.
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