Need a quick checklist or an in-depth structure for your marketing strategy?
The 4Ps of Marketing, often known as the ‘marketing mix’, is a mental model that describes product, price, place and promotion as four key pillars of a marketing strategy.
First published in the 1960s, this model continues to be influential in marketing management and strategy. It has been critiqued and variations proposed to include the addition of process, people, and physical evidence
- Consider your product value proposition
Explore the value proposition of your product, including what problem it solves, how it reduces pain or friction and/or increases gain of your customers.
- Consider your pricing strategy
Are you aiming to penetrate a market with a starting low price at the risk of undervaluing your product; will you bundle offers; or aim to target a smaller premium market with high prices. These are just some of the pricing options to consider which are covered further in additional mental models.
- Consider place, delivery and distribution
Your product’s success depends considerably on the distribution channels you choose. These might include retail stores, wholesalers, online stores, as well as potentials for B2B vs B2C channels.
- Consider promotion
This involves more traditional marketing and communication strategies and your plan to target specific audience groups with your product rollout. It might include a ‘freemium’ content strategy versus paid advertising.
View this Panmore Institute case study of McDonalds through the lens of the 4Ps. Some takeaways include:
- Product: while known for burgers the franchise has consistently expanded its product base.
- Place: the products are tied to a physical restaurant however the company has aimed to expand customer flexibility through the use of kiosks, mobile apps, and postmates websites along with other partners.
- Promotion: McDonalds leverages a significant advertising budget, sales promotion, public relations and direct marketing. They spend most of their marketing budget on traditional media, with significant forays into sales promotions such as discount coupons and freebies.
- Pricing: McDonalds particularly leverages bundle pricing, offering meals and product bundles that are discounted compared to the separate products. They also use common pricing techniques such as pricing items at $x.99 to reinforce the perception of being more affordable.
Critiques of the original 4P model have expanded it and provided alternatives. For example, the 7Ps model adds process, people, and physical evidence while, in other circles, an 8th P is represented by performance.
An alternative approach includes Lauterborn’s version of the marketing mix consisting of 4Cs — Consumer, Cost, Convenience, and Communication — to address the movement from mass marketing to niche marketing in a more consumer-oriented approach.
The 4Ps of marketing remains a fundamental marketing mental model.
Use the following examples of connected and complementary models to weave 4Ps of marketing into your broader latticework of mental models. Alternatively, discover your own connections by exploring the category list above.
- Value proposition: to outline the problem the product or service solves for whom.
- Features vs benefits: to understand relevance and target audience.
- Blue ocean strategy: when considering which market to target.
- Lock-in effect: to consider customer loyalty and resistance to moving.
- Cialdini’s six principles of influence: to consider broader marketing engagement.
- Diversification: as a marketing and even product strategy.
- Fishbone diagram: using the 4Ps, or an expanded version, as part of a root cause analysis.
The 4Ps were proposed in 1960 by E. Jerome McCarthy but it was Philip Kotler who popularized the model among marketing academics and practitioners. Marketing Mix Modeling A Complete Guide - 2020 Edition by Gerardus Blokdyk offers an updated view of the model.
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