You have practically endless access to marketing agencies, contractors, and professionals when it comes to planning and executing your marketing campaigns.
But never fail, when you’re searching for specific marketing assistance, it can be hard to separate the those who know their stuff from those who—well—you know what we mean.
They can drown you with buzzwords that are pertinent to marketing right now – including “Algorithm,” “Blockchain,” and “Micro-Moments,” and so on. But, the key thing to look for in their impressive bag of tricks goes beyond the high-level buzz and comes down directly to their understanding of marketing.
It also means looking at their real-world approach to the marketing mix, sometimes called the 4 P’s of marketing or 7 C’s of marketing, to create your customized mix that supports your overall strategy.
It may seem old-school to focus on such basic Marketing 101 techniques that we all learned in some of our first marketing classes. But many of us often forget to focus on these things in the real world – especially, those 4 P’s. (You remember them, right? Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.)
And, while the 4 P’s of marketing focus primarily on the product, the evolution of the 7 C’s brought it back to the customer. (We’ll dig deeper further on, but for your immediate reference, the C’s tie back to Corporation, Commodity, Cost, Communication, Channel, Consumer, and Circumstances.)
“With a constant supply of newly acclaimed ‘experts’ always on the horizon, you can weed out the ‘just put out a shingle’ marketing newbies from the true professionals who actually know how to go beyond the buzz.”
You need to work with the pros who can prescribe and drive measurable success for you– the ones who remember and know how to navigate and integrate the P’s and C’s to create the ideal marketing mix for you that drive your strategy.
This blog was created as a guide to arm you with the information you need to hire your ideal marketing partner. Whether you’re looking for a consultant or agency, you can quickly determine who is qualified to help you when you understand who can best help you.
To do this, you should understand some key definitions used by marketing professionals today, as well as insight into various techniques and tools.
- Marketing Mix Definition
- Digital Marketing Mix Definition
- Why a Marketing Mix is Key to Marketing Plan Success
- The History of P’s and C’s
- The 4 P’s of Marketing and How They’ve Multiplied
- The 4 C’s of Marketing
- The 7 C’s Compass Model of Marketing
- Some Variations of the 7 C’s
- How to Apply the P’s and C’s to a Marketing Mix
- Some Final Thoughts on the 4 P’s, 7 P’s, 4 C’s and 7 C’s
- In Summary: Mind Your P’s and C’s
Of course, we’d love for you to read this full guide in its entirety right now so you can gain the most thorough insight.
But we understand you have a lot on your plate, so we’ve also broken this piece down into unique sections. Take a moment now to bookmark this guide or mark it as a “Favorite” Then feel free to jump forward to the information you need right now.
Alright, so let’s get started.
Your marketing mix is, in a broad sense, the combination of the tools and tactics (often those 4 P’s and/or 7 C’s) you use in your overall marketing strategy to influence your buyers—it’s the design and balance of multiple elements that are constantly adjusted to support your overall marketing plan.
Marketing theories, like the 4 P’s, 7 C’s, and their various versions exist to help you analyze which elements to use in your marketing mix to support your overall strategy. They are not the whole marketing mix per se, but they are an integral part of it. And the 4 Ps are, in fact commonly interchanged or synonymous with the term “marketing mix.”
“Think of the elements of your marketing mix as a series of gears or moving parts that, when set in motion properly, will work together to power your marketing strategy.”
But, like any well-oiled machine, there’s always room for adjusting the components of your marketing mix to adapt to changes, especially those driven by the preferences and behaviors of your buyers.
This is important to remember when seeking guidance from consultants AND marketing agencies. If they advocate that your marketing mix is a “set it and forget it” kind of process, it’s time to look elsewhere. Ideally, for the true professional who understands that your mix should continue to evolve, and using the 4 P’s of marketing to guide it is a proven, time-tested technique.
That’s not to say four (or even seven) elements are all that there is to creating a proper marketing mix. That sorely misses the point and diminishes the depth and breadth of actual marketing planning and strategy. This is especially true since the world (and marketing world) has changed dramatically since the 4 P’s of marketing were introduced as Marketing Theory over 50 years ago.
Obviously, we can’t talk about marketing in 2018 without talking about digital marketing. That said, let’s discuss the digital marketing mix—and how it’s different from your traditional marketing mix.
In the simplest terms, a digital marketing mix takes the marketing mix and applies it directly to the digital marketplace (shocking, right?).
So if your product or service is entirely digital, your marketing mix will probably need to be entirely digital as well. That’s not to say there aren’t exceptions, like the occasional print campaign or radio spot. But, in general, it’s a good rule of thumb to base your marketing format on your product.
A marketer may also sometimes specify a purely digital marketing mix or appoint a separate team for digital since digital marketing requires different strengths. This practice is kind of like having a content manager specifically for content marketing.
Either way, for an effective marketing plan, the digital portion of your marketing mix must at a minimum match the proportion of your audience who are online or using social media.
You probably have heard this over and over again, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to keep up to speed with the digital marketing landscape to avoid missing the boat as a successful marketer. And even as recently as 2017, 49% of organizations said they did not have a clearly defined digital marketing strategy.
A strong marketing partner with digital expertise helps you in this area. Your consultant or agency should be digging deep into the world of digital marketing in 2018 – and by digging deep, we mean looking way beyond using Facebook, Twitter, and a cool responsive website. Like, using augmented reality to sell furniture kind of digging deep.
If your agency isn’t moving in this direction, it’s time to look at the other opportunities out there to ensure you have not only a competent but savvy marketing partner.
Having a marketing mix goes with developing a marketing plan like a road map goes with driving.
You’ll probably get to your destination if you know where it is, or just by dumb luck (and checking the road signs, if they exist), but the trickier journeys usually can’t rely on shortcuts and really require a well-defined roadmap.
“An old-fashion map might be a bit like a traditional marketing mix. And thus Google maps and GPS are a bit like a digital marketing mix. They all do the same thing in the end, they get us to our destination.”
The problem is, too many marketers take short-cuts, and apply hit-and-miss tactics. They assume they know where to go, and forge ahead without a solid roadmap created to align with your marketing strategy.
When you keep taking a wrong turn on a journey, things get confusing and misdirected. Your trip will be re-routed, or maybe you’ll have to pull over and look at the map to figure out your next step. These mistakes take an effort to correct, and you have to put in the time to get back on track.
Similarly, when the marketing mix is skipped, a marketing plan becomes just a series of tactics that sounded like a good idea at the time. In the long run, you end up adding more time to your journey and force yourself to constantly re-assess your strategy. This haphazard approach is deemed to fail because it means you’re not analyzing every aspect of the venture.
To ensure your marketing plan fits the market, you need to address all the elements involved, in the right amounts, and at all stages of the product and customer life cycles. A thoroughly planned marketing mix means using in-depth analytical theories and tools, much like a thoroughly planned road trip requires a pre-determined route, some form of guidance, and probably a lot of snacks.
This is where all of those letters I mentioned come into play. Like I said, they’re not the end-all-be-all of a marketing mix. But they do provide an excellent jumping off point to get your marketing mix going. Think of them as the guidebook for your road trip to a successful marketing strategy.
This post aims to analyze the four most common theories you can use in your marketing mix to create an effective marketing plan, and how you can use their elements to ensure your marketing plan is a success.
Without further ado, welcome to the world of P’s and C’s.
One of the first and longest lasting theories on marketing was the “4 P’s of Marketing” coined by E. Jerome McCarthy, an American professor, in his 1960 book “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach.”
The 4 P’s applied directly to principles that management should consider for product marketing and decision-making processes. They aimed to simplify the over complicated analysis of marketing at the time.
Although it suits a simple product model well, this theory can be over simplistic for high-end products and complex digital strategies.
Eventually, the 7 P’s (Process, Physical, and Performance were added to the 4 P’s of marketing) evolved to extend the original mix into the growing field of marketing science and data analytics.
This concept moved even further with the introduction of the 4 C’s and eventually 7 C’s to fill the need for a highly service-oriented, competitive economy that developed with the rapid expansion of digital services.
A service focus puts customer needs prominently in the mix in place of the product. This fueled the need for a consumer-centric model to go alongside the product-centric model.
But before we get too deep into that, let’s go back and define those first P’s.
Marketing’s original 4 P’s theory, first introduced by Professor E. Jerome McCarthy in 1960, represent Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. Each element plays a role in the overall mix, and together they aim to summarize the multi-faceted analysis of marketing.
Product comes first for a very good reason— Marketing must be designed with the product in mind. And product design must start with a market analysis.
For a good marketing mix, your product needs to be considered from a marketing point of view at all stages of its life cycle, from design to development, to sales.
Some important questions to consider when looking at your product are:
Who does this product help?
How does it help them?
Why is it better than the alternatives – if any exist?
What features of the product should be accentuated and why?
To further fuel these necessary why’s, how’s, and what if’s, your product should be thought of in three levels.
Core – The primary value, benefit, and need behind a product— what it specifically provides to the customer.
Actual – The physical product or service being sold.
Augmented – The extra functions that support a product, including image, warranties, supplemental uses, and all other “bonuses.”
Place, often also called positioning, is supercritical for distribution and visibility.
Your product must be visible and accessible in the place where customers go. Are your customers browsing digitally or in stores? Are they listening, watching, or reading?
Distribution channels must then align to which your products consumers use.
This is where a modern marketing mix goes one step further than fundamental or theoretical solutions. Marketing techniques must also include sales techniques.
You must consider how your consumers are buying, and then which distribution channels suit the buying habits of your customers.
Price says a great deal about marketing strategy.
While the fundamental of price is usually to apply cost + profit = sales amount, there is far more to it than that.
Can your product be pitched to a high-end market?
Can production be scaled to make your product cheaper for mass marketing?
What is the likelihood of a decrease in price resulting in an increasing market share?
What is the pricing of the competition, and how does my product compare to theirs?
These are all questions you should be asking yourself when choosing the price for your product.
While marketing itself may be seen by some “fly-by-night” entrepreneurs as just a fancy word for “promotion,” you can see from the first three pillars of the 4 P’s of marketing that with a comprehensive approach, Promotion only comes after much thought on the Product, Price, and Position.
So if you’ve mastered the first three P’s, then Promotion, a more traditional element in the marketing mix, comes rather easy. You know all about your product, where to place it, and how to price it.
Now you need to develop promotional strategies around these features. A promotional campaign will be far more effective when drawing from key elements of the Product, Place, and Price. Promotion can focus on types of media, image, and brand awareness.
The 4 P’s are cornerstones of marketing to this day, but as marketing evolved, the 4 P’s did as well. So, with a growing, holistic approach to marketing strategies, three more P’s were added. The extension of 4 to 7 P’s of marketing gave us People, Process, and Physical.
The “People” aspect represents two separate components – the people buying and the people selling.
Back to the adage about personal relationships in today’s marketing, you need to get to know your customer, to analyze who you’re selling to, and how you can meet their needs.
But for effective business, you can’t just stop there. Employees, contractors, and sales agents all need to be ambassadors for your product and image. Staff forms a part of your marketing loop that is vital to competitive advantage. Your staff knows your product best.
What this comes down to is that marketers need to listen to the people surrounding their brand and take that information to heart.
The Process can entail all aspects of a business, from manufacturing processes to sales processes.
Two great examples of the effective use of process in marketing eBay and Amazon. Both use their sales processes to drive for product, place, and promotion. And based on their success (like Amazon going from 80 thousand users in 1997 to over 310 million active users in 2016), both seem to be doing it pretty well.
Physical may mean physical evidence but can also be used in relation to a physical environment.
Physical evidence relates to proof of product, proof of reputation, and the entire physical environment associated with the product, including types of shops, accessories, and graphics used to sell it.
But wait – there’s more. Performance is sometimes added as an elusive 8th P.
This creates a feedback loop in your product’s appeal to customers, measures product results, and creates more attributes to market.
“Performance also pertains to the success of a product, company performance, and performance of the marketing strategies themselves.”
Some consider the newer P’s as components in the descriptions of the first four. Others see them as important elements in their own right. When viewed as tools, the semantics of where they fit in become less important.
What IS important is that you use the P’s – whether you go with four, seven or eight. Your marketing strategy will drive your marketing mix to determine your specific focus.
Just as the 4 P’s of marketing evolved to the 7 P’s of marketing (and sometimes 8 P’s), the C’s of marketing also evolved based on customer focus and can work together with the P’s as while developing your overall marketing strategy.
The 4 C’s model of marketing was first proposed by Robert F. Lauterborn in 1990. The concept aimed to move from a product-centric model to a consumer- or customer-centric model.
Why was this so popular? Well, products are only out there to help fill a need for the consumer. This explains the focus on starting with the customer.
The 4 C’s model steadily grew in popularity because of the shift in focus from product to customer.
Lauterborn’s 4 C’s represent Consumer, Convenience, Cost, and Communication.
Consumer-centric thinking is basically just reverse-engineering “Product” from the 4 P’s.
A product won’t sell unless it fills a consumer need. Starting with consumer needs and thinking outwards will expand your product questions with infinite benefit.
Consumer needs may also lead to design improvements, offshoot products and services, and a far more detailed marketing perspective in general.
While Convenience and Place aren’t quite the same things, from a broad perspective they are very similar. One describes how easy a product is to obtain and the other tends to look at where it’s actually obtained.
If you’re looking at it from the customer’s perspective, excluding high-end items, shopping is a convenience decision and thus marketing must position for convenience, so the two are interconnected.
Place or positioning has translated in the digital age to convenience since virtual stores don’t lend to the concept of a physical place like a brick and mortar store.
Channel is another term sometimes used here, indicating the method of distribution is also a part of convenience.
Cost and price are synonymous of course. However, cost can also be seen as an extension of price.
Where some may think of price in monetary terms only, cost can also pertain to transitional costs, cost of use, and overall value of a product.
When thinking in terms of customer relationships, Communication just sounds way better than Promotion.
Remember that the 4 C’s of marketing came about in the 90’s, not the 60’s like the 4 P’s of marketing. Evolution in marketing means being more communicative. We are all looking for real communication, so tell your consumers something about your brand or product.
The 7 C’s of marketing, often called the “Compass Model” (which I’ll explain, don’t worry), has a bit more of a vague origin story that the other models. But basically, it evolved from the 4 C’s to address a more corporation focused instead of customer-focused strategy.
It’s similar to the Lauterborn model developed in 1990 but has some distinct differences.
Corporation – The first part of this model is Corporation. This goes with the concept that a brand’s capability lies behind product development and customer needs. The culture of a company is central to developing a marketing plan.
Commodity – This aspect can be thought of as the same as Product in the 4 P’s, and similar to Consumer in the 4 C’s.
Cost – Again, this almost directly aligns with the Price aspect of the 4 P’s.
Communication – The definition here is more or less the same as in Lauterborn’s, referring to how the product is communicated to the consumer.
Channel – This C is very similar in nature to Place and Position in the 4 P’s, and also to Convenience in the 4 C’s.
Consumer – Here Consumer refers to four facets around a consumer— Needs, Security, Education, and Wants. This is sometimes called NSEW and is where the term “Compass Model” comes from…Clever, right?
Circumstances – And finally, another “NSEW” of considerations for circumstance– National, Social, Economic, and Weather.
One thing to note in this model is that Consumer and Commodity are separated here, allowing the two key pillars of the 4 C’s and 4 ‘s to be dealt with separately.
Similar to an occasional eighth P, there are – of course – variations of the 7 C’s. We can’t be sure if it’s just because there are so many important marketing words beginning with C, but a few more common C-terms have evolved into the development of the marketing mix include:
Cash (money vs. price or cost)
Close (the deal)
The number of C’s you can find proposed somewhere online is almost endless— It certainly doesn’t stop at seven.
Some of our favorites (or the ones we view as the most relevant) of the terms left out of traditional 7 C’s are Culture, Credibility, and Competition.
“When we think about Culture and marketing, we can’t help thinking about the story of the Mitsubishi Pajero.”
The term “pajero” wasn’t researched well enough culturally before the release of the product. That is, the word takes on a drastically different meaning in many Spanish dialects to the one related to jungle cats that the manufacturers intended (a Google search can give you the inside info on this phrase).
In this instance, a marketing model that included culture most likely would have caught this translation issue and saved Mitsubishi a great deal of embarrassment (although they ended up just changing the name to the Mitsubishi Montero in Spanish-speaking countries).
Credibility contributes to the overall image of a brand and a company. It also contributes to a brand’s relationship with consumers. In fact, a 2016 study found that users are 94% more likely to be loyal to a brand if it commits to full brand transparency.
And, as you know, marketing must always consider the Competition— Why are your products better? And how can you position yourself in the market against the competition?
These various lists of important C words give you pointers to consider as you develop your own customized marketing mix. So, whether you use four, seven, or even more C’s, worry less about being limited and more about which ones will best help your brand.
At this point, you may be thinking “Wow, this blog has already given me such great insight into the P’s and C’s of marketing, and now I can use both of these theories simultaneously to develop my marketing mix!”
If so, then you’re on the right track. Each point (or letter, really) can be combined to brainstorm your ideal plan. A marketing mix can draw from the components of each part of the 4 or 7 P’s of marketing and 4 or 7 C’s of marketing to create your individual solution.
They can create building blocks for an in-depth marketing report. Each P and C can be addressed separately in your overall marketing strategy, or they can be combined with their appropriate counterpart.
Additionally, the 7 P’s and 7 C’s can be seen as extended research — in fact, they’re sometimes called the “extended marketing mix” (fancy that!). And the terms can effectively provide a springboard for furthering your marketing ideas.
In this respect, you can utilize each term in the basic models and add the extended versions of 7 C’s and maybe the 8th P as it fits your marketing environment.
We recommend you start by creating a list of the important topics and sub-topics based on all the terms explained here that suit your brand’s needs and your particular environment.
You may start with the entire list for every new project, or hone down the specific pieces of each that work for you in your own project environment.
For example, Corporation may not be a popular choice for the top of the marketing mix, but in most cases, it also shouldn’t be left out altogether, either.
Likewise for Culture, we probably don’t need to bring up the Mitsubishi faux pas again (and by the way, that’s not the only overlooking of culture in car naming, or even the funniest).
The 7 C’s can really be modified for application specifics. This has been done, for example, in the 7 C’s of email marketing, the 7 C’s of retail marketing, and the 7 C’s of digital marketing. Each can have its own unique flavor on the mix.
And the more terms you align to your marketing mix, the more comprehensive of an approach you can develop.
The reason the 4 P’s of marketing are so still fundamental to marketing strategy is that all other models rely in some part on them. They are also generally considered as parallel to or integral when using the 4 C’s and 7 C’s models.
Purists might like to look at the 4 P’s alone as the marketing mix, but we think they really exist as a key part of the greater marketing environment.
The 4 P’s of marketing act as a product-centered model. This can be a very useful starting point for nearly every brand. They’ve also maintained their dominance as they translate well with English speaking nations.
However, adding in the 4 C’s then creates a more comprehensive, and more customer-centered approach. It broadens the appeal of the first 4 P’s.
By incorporating in a few more P’s, and quite a few more C’s, you can provide a deeper marketing analysis to complement the basic terms.
Marketing tools, analytics, and tactics, like all of these P’s and C’s, are what form your marketing mix, and how you integrate them is essential to a successful marketing plan.
As you’ve likely concluded, the 4 P’s of marketing, although revolutionary and fundamental, aren’t nearly enough to meet the growing demands of a good marketing strategy.
To develop an effective marketing mix, all avenues, strategies, tools, and tactics need to be considered.
Approach each project with a new set of eyes and consider each aspect of these tools when your planning begins.
A savvy marketer will want to use all the tools available at their disposal. And one set of tools may not fit every circumstance. It comes down to using all your tools in the marketing mix, in balance, to create a comprehensive marketing plan.
Perhaps we’re even overdue for another set of letters. A model that connects all the dots in a user-friendly way— so let us know if you have any suggestions.
But if your brain is buzzing from all of these P’s, C’s, and compass directions, partnering with the right full-service digital marketing agency can help you clear things up to create a successful marketing mix.
MESH Agency has extensive experience in helping brands produce successful and profitable marketing strategies. We’re here to help.