The 4 Ps of Marketing

Marketing is simplistically defined as ‘putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time.’ Though this sounds like an easy enough proposition, a lot of hard work and research needs to go into setting this simple definition up. And if even one element is off the mark, a promising product or service can fail completely and end up costing the company substantially

In the 1960s, E Jerome McCarthy came up with the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, promotion.


A product can be either a tangible good or service that fulfil a need or want of consumers. Whether you sell custom pallets and wood products or provide luxury accommodations, it’s imperative that you have a clear grasp of exactly what your product is and what makes it unique before you can successfully market it.

  • What does the customer want from the product/service? What needs does it satisfy?
  • What features does it have to meet these needs?
  • Are there any features you've missed out?
  • Are you including costly features that the customer won't actually use?
  • How and where will the customer use it?
  • What does it look like?
  • How will customers experience it?
  • What size(s), colour(s), and so on
  • What is it to be called?
  • How is it branded?
  • How is it differentiated versus your competitors?
  • What is the most it can cost to provide and still be sold sufficiently profitably?


Price determinations will impact profit margins, supply, demand, and marketing strategy.

  • What is the value of the product or service to the buyer?
  • Are there established price points for products or services in this area?
  • Is the customer price sensitive? Will a small
  • Decrease in price gain you extra market share? Or will a small increase be indiscernible, and so gain you extra profit margin?
  • What discounts should be offered if any?
  • How will your price compare with your competitors?


It's critical that you have an understanding of how and where to sell your product. Perhaps they believe an e-commerce site works better than a retail location, or vice versa. Or, maybe they can offer insights into which locations would be most viable to sell your product, either nationally and internationally.

  • Where do buyers look for your product or service?
  • If they look in a store, what kind? A specialist boutique or in a supermarket, or both? Or online? Or direct, via a catalogue?
  • How can you access the right distribution channels?
  • Do you need to use a sales force? Or attend trade fairs? Or make online submissions? Or send samples to catalogue companies?
  • What do your competitors do, and how can you learn from that and/or differentiate?


Promotion entails any online or print advertisement, event, or discount your marketing team creates to increase awareness and interest in your product, and, ultimately, lead to more sales.

  • Where and when can you get your marketing messages across to your target market?
  • Will you reach your audience by advertising online, in the press, on TV, on radio, or on billboards?
  • By using direct marketing mailshots? Through PR? On the internet?
  • When is the best time to promote? Is there seasonality in the market?
  • How do your competitors do their promotions? And how does that influence your choice of promotional activity?

Using the 4Ps of Marketing

The model can be used to help you decide how to take a new offer to the market. It can also be used to test your existing marketing strategy. Whether you are considering a new or

existing offer, follow the steps below to help you to define and improve your marketing mix.

1.   Start by identifying the product or service that you want to analyse.

2.   Now go through and answer the 4Ps questions – as defined in detail above.

3.   Try asking "why" and "what if" questions too, to challenge your offer. For example, ask why your target audience needs a particular feature. What if you drop your price by 5 per cent? What if you offer more colours? Why sell through wholesalers rather than direct channels? What if you improve PR rather then rely on online advertising?

  4.   Once you have a well-defined marketing mix, try "testing" the overall offer from the customer's perspective, by asking customer-focused questions:

•  Does it meet their needs? (Product.)

•  Will they find it where they shop? (Place.)

•  Will they consider that it's priced favourably? (Price.)

•  Will marketing communications reach them? (Promotion.)

5.   Keep on asking questions and making changes to your mix until you are satisfied that you have optimised your marketing mix, given the information and facts and figures you have available.

6.   Review your marketing mix regularly, as some elements will need to change as the product or service and its market grow, mature and adapt in an ever-changing competitive environment.

Key Points

The marketing mix helps you define the marketing elements for successfully positioning your market offer.

One of the best-known models is the 4Ps of Marketing, which helps you define your marketing options in terms of product, place, price, and promotion. Use the model when you are planning a new venture, or evaluating an existing offer, to optimise the impact with your target market.

That's it for this post, I hope you got something out of this and have a better understanding of the 4 Ps of marketing. Next week I will be talking about Content Segmenting - The gold mine of marketing. Don’t forget to head over to the Marketing blog section to see all our other marketing posts