Eye of Newt and Other Ingredients in Your Marketing MixEye of newt and leg of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog. This was actually a small portion of the mixture created by the three witches in Shakespeare's "Macbeth." Of course, since they were successful witches, their mix was well thought out and consisted of the ingredients necessary to achieve the results they desired.
We can learn a lot from those witches. No, not about a lizard's leg or a howlet's wing, but about the fact that, to reach your goals, you must know which ingredients to use and in what amounts. This marketing mix includes the various components of the 4 P's (product, price, place a.k.a. distribution, and promotion). If any one of these is not right, or at least not close to being right, the likelihood of your company's success is not near what it should be.
Product - the main ingredient
Many people, including some very experienced businesspeople, believe that marketing is synonymous with promotion. Although promotion is indeed an aspect of marketing, marketing encompasses much more. Take your product or service, for example. Is it in demand? Do your potential customers perceive a need for it? What would happen if you tweaked it a bit? What would happen if you changed it completely? Following are some of the product features that determine how well a product or service sells.
Quality is one, and that shouldn't surprise you. But how much thought have you given to your product's warranty? When consumers assess value, a product's warranty is often taken into consideration. How about packaging? It makes a difference. Many years ago, a product I was responsible for had its packing go from black text on a white box to a full-color photo and colorful text. Sales increased dramatically.
Then there is appearance; this too makes a difference. A KitchenAid mixer, for example, does not have to look as nice as it does. But the fact that cooks think the mixers are attractive enough to leave on their counters means that KitchenAid has an advantage over its competition. It stands to reason that a mixer that can be left on the counter is bound to outsell one that people feel compelled to take out and then put away.
Yet another aspect of your product is your customer service. Again, when consumers determine value, they take into account if the product may need service and how reliable the available service is.
Price - the cauldron that bubbles with trouble
It's not that pricing is really troublesome, but it can be a bit tricky. More than a few business owners believe that if they reduce their prices below those of their competition, customers will be clamoring to buy their products or services. This is seldom the case. In fact, studies consistently show that only seven percent or so buy a product or switch to another one because of low prices. When you recognize this and then realize that "price shoppers" are often the most expensive customers to attract and hold on to, you may want to forgo this segment of your customer base altogether.
Research is generally necessary to determine the most effective price for a product or service. In some instances, research may show that a product's price needs to be increased to offer it a position of exclusivity. Of course, research sometimes reveals that the optimum selling price is too low to yield a viable profit margin, leaving two courses of action. One is that something about the product needs to change in order to either reduce costs or raise value, i.e. features, manufacturing process, distribution, etc. The other is that the product should be discontinued.
The pricing aspect of marketing is not confined to the actual selling price. It also includes such things as discounts. These may include: how often a product is put on sale and for how long, if volume discounts may be offered and the levels that must be attained to get them, and if early payments will qualify for additional discounts. Other decision that fall under pricing include whether terms/dating will be offered or services such as leasing will be available.
Place - how the mix is served
Once you know that you have a saleable and profitable product to sell, the logistics have to be determined. How is the product going to travel to the final consumer? Is it going to be sold directly, through retail outlets, or through distributors and then retailers?
If it requires warehousing, will you warehouse it or will a distributor? How is it going to be shipped? What incentives will you offer distributors or retailers to sell your product? What support are you going to offer? What position will it take in the distributor's and/or retailer's mix? What locales will it be sold in? All of these must be addressed and answered. And as they are being answered, a close watch must be maintained on how the answers affect your profit margins.
Promotion - the stirring of the mix
Now we get to the part most people associate with marketing. Promotion is a very involved discipline. With so many vehicles available to a marketer, determining which are the correct ones to employ and when to employ them is often a result of experience, research, instinct, and opportunity.
The first thing to be determined is the message that will be advanced to the final consumer and, if there is one, to the distributor. This message must be relative to the product, pricing, and place. You cannot promote a high-end product with a low-end message. Nor can you successfully promote a message that suggests a product costs less than it actually does.
Once the message has been established, the appropriate vehicles are determined. Will a PR campaign be used? How about advertising? If so, what kind -- television, radio, newspaper, Internet, direct mail, or other? Are trade shows a good fit? If so, which ones? What about actual promotions such as public events? Will sponsorships give the result you need? No matter what promotional mix is used, it is imperative that the results be evaluated. These results tell you whether to continue, cease, of tweak any given method.
Just like the witches in Macbeth, you must know which ingredients to use for any given situation. And never forget that conditions change. What works today may not work tomorrow. Perhaps your costs will increase. A distributor or retailer may demand additional profits. You may lose a key retailer. A competitor may introduce a new product, or a new competitor may move into your area. It's because your environment constantly changes that you must consistently stir your marketing mix. Otherwise, it tends to evaporate and leaves you with nothing but the pot to wish in.
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As a speaker, author, and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals, solopreneurs, and other small business owners achieve the success they've been striving for.
His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook provides small business people throughout the world the opportunity to consistently attract not only more clients but specifically more profitable clients. It includes contributions from noted experts, including Ivan Misner, Bob Burg, Debbie Allen, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg, and others.
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