In a previous blog, I presented the definition of marketing. Within that definition there are a set of activities. These activities are known as “The Marketing Mix.” Years ago, when manufacturing dominated the world economy, marketing was largely focused on physical products. As a result, the marketing mix strategy was commonly known as “The Four P’s of Marketing” - Product, Price, Place and Promote. Market research undergirded all activities.
However, the marketing mix strategy needed to be expanded with the rise of services and three more “P’s” were added: People, Processes & Physical. Here is a list with brief definitions of “The 7 P’s of Marketing” most commonly known as the Marketing Mix strategy for products and services.
People individually and corporately seek solutions to problems and actively search for products and services that meet their wants and needs. This results in the development of marketplaces whether they are physical or virtual. A marketplace may exist to meet the needs of a single person or billions.
The price paid for a product or service is a direct reflection of its value to the purchaser. The very same product or service may command a different price depending on the level of want or need. For example, a concert ticket to see a performer may be more meaningful to one person than another. Product or
service pricing also influences perception.
There’s only one way to let the people know about your product or service – tell them. That’s promotion. Promotion is simply communication that offers your products and services to the marketplace and receives feedback. There are a wide variety of methods to do this and that's where promotion gets more complex.
Products and services are brought to the market directly or indirectly. A street vendor may sell hotdogs and literally distribute them by hand to people who customize (think mustard or ketchup) and consume them within minutes. The key word here is distribute or distribution. Place refers to the distribution methods used to bring products and services to market. This same hotdog vendor may own a restaurant and offer hotdogs around the corner which means he uses two distribution channels to bring his products to market.
Services are intangibles. Put another way, they’re not physical. They may be the work of a plumber to fix a kitchen drain or an airline ticket. People are the backbone of products and some marketers have always included them in the Marketing Mix strategy. If they were important then, they are especially important now
because people are definitely the backbone of services.
Does an airline ticket represent a product or a service? It represents a service. For it to be of any value, the planes need to run on time and transport passengers safely. My son manages a popular coffee stand and his customers demand the same quality and taste in their drinks every morning or they get upset. Welcome to the world of process and process discipline. Consumers could make their own coffee at home but they prefer to be served. They prefer the service and the service is built upon processes.
As I mentioned, services are intangibles. They are not physical. However, you and I are physical and we need physical cues every moment of every day to help us survive. Don’t believe me? Just ask a blind person who relies on braille or uses a walking cane to tap the sidewalk. When we buy things, we use our senses to judge its value. We rely on the use of physical materials such as high quality brochures and direct mail pieces or easy-to-understand process documents to help us make such judgments and to differentiate and even determine value.