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The 4 P's of Marketing

Product

The product(s) and/or service(s) that your small business offers should fulfill a perceived customer need. Some of the questions you should be able to answer about your offerings are:

  • What is your product/service?

  • How do your products/services satisfy the perceived needs of your customer?

  • What are the features (sizes, colors, etc.) of the product(s)/service(s) you offer?

  • What do you call it? (Simple names that adequately describe your product(s), or “catchy” names that are memorable, tend to work best.)

  • Do you have other thoughts on your Product(s)/Service(s)?

Suggested action items:

  • Create a comprehensive products/services offering list that includes names and descriptions of your products and/or services.

  • Develop a “30-second commercial” on each of your product offerings.

  • Compare your products/services to similar ones in your market. Differentiate your products/services from those of your competitors.

Price

The price of your product should speak to the value of it. The greater the value and/or the more scarce the availability of the product, the more likely that a higher price will be acceptable to your consumer. On the other hand, if the price is too high relative to quality or perceived value, you may need to research economies of scale to support a lower price structure.

Here are some questions to ponder about pricing your product/service:

  • What is the value of the product or service to the buyer?

  • Have you identified other vendors with similar products? If so, do you know what their price points are?

  • Are there any aspects of your product/service that are finite? (i.e., if you are providing a direct service, there are only so many hours in a day, or if you sell a product, materials used in the production of your product may be limited.) If so, how will you address this?

  • How will your customers pay (i.e., cash, check, credit, PayPal, etc.) for your products or services?

  • How will you evaluate whether your pricing structure is appropriate? How often will you revisit this?

Suggested action items:

  1. Research your market to determine the pricing structure of other products that meet the same need your product fills.

  2. Be able to recite the customer needs that are addressed by your product or service and relate the value to potential customers.

  3. Set up credit card payment system to accept this as a form of payment, if needed or desired.

  4. Determine a schedule (usually in line with your fiscal/tax reporting) to review and modify pricing, as needed.

Promotion

How will you get the word out about your product or service? This question is the essence of “promotion,” the third “P” of marketing. This is an element that requires balance, as well. If you have a great product/service, but don’t promote it, you may not attract much business. On the other hand, if your promotion efforts attract more customers than you can reasonably accommodate, you may need to review the other elements more carefully. (Supply and demand has the greatest impact on PRICE.)

Here are some questions to consider regarding promotion:

  • How will you advertise your product?

  • What media presence/marketing devices (i.e., website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, other social media, direct mail, word-of-mouth) will you utilize?

  • How will you brand your product?

  • How will you differentiate your product from your competitors? (This topic can fall under “Product,” as well, but is best used for the “Promotion” piece.) And, speaking of competitors, how do THEY promote THEIR product(s)?

  • Is your target audience easily identified? Are there other products that the same audience would seek that are not competitive with your product? Could you enter an affinity marketing agreement with a business that targets the same customer? (e.g., diaper service and a childcare program would have the same target audience, but their products are very different and, therefore, do not compete with one another)

  • Does your product have a specific timeline? Is it seasonal in nature? Does this affect WHEN you should promote your product for optimal results?

  • Do you have other thoughts about how to promote your product?

Suggested action items:

  1. Identify marketing tools (brochures, business cards, websites, advertising specialties, etc.) that may be helpful in promoting your business.

  2. Consider how Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media may be used in promoting your business, and establish appropriate accounts.

  3. Identify “affinity” organizations and pursue discussions regarding cross-marketing with them.

  4. Market Research: Understanding the market in which you operate is a crucial piece of your business success. If you understand your market, you will be able to make more informed marketing decisions. The key pieces of this are understanding the current markets:

  • Pricing (how much do potential customers expect to pay?)

  • Product or Service Mix (what do potential customers expect/want to buy?)

Place

“Place” is all about distribution, or WHERE your products/services can be acquired. If you are offering a service, as opposed to a product, the distribution process is likely to be a bit different.

Some thoughts to consider:

  • Where will you conduct your business? Is it multi-site (e.g., production occurs in one place, sales/product delivery in anther)?

  • Where will customers be likely to look for your product?

  • How will clients/customers access your product/service?

  • Do you need to set up distribution channels?

  • Will you need a dedicated space for shipping/handling?

  • Will you offer your products in a storefront? What kind?

  • Will you sell your products through a website? A catalog? At craft fairs or trade fairs?

  • If you provide a service, will your clients come to you? Will you go to them? Or will you meet in a neutral location?

  • Will you need to hire sales representatives to take your product to market?

Suggested action items:

  1. Identify the PLACES you need to conduct business.

  2. Identify appropriate distribution channels for your business.

  3. Identify key characteristics for sales staff, if needed.

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