Successful businesses, both small and large, understand the importance of the "Four P's" of marketing. Business information sharing and college classes tend to combine "Sales and Marketing" as a single item which is thrown under the big umbrella of making money. A more granular approach recognizes the distinct differences and importance of Product, Price, Promotion and Place. Marketing departments and small businesses will individually adjust each of the four categories to arrive at the appropriate combination which best satisfies their existing and prospective target customer base.
Product is the physical item which is sold to the general public. A product's characteristics include everything from functionality and appearance to customer support and value-added features. Some organizations will spend months and conduct focus groups to optimize product design and packaging look and feel. Something as small as tweaking a grip or making a font larger on a label will have a significant impact on customer perception and purchasing behavior.
Pricing a product or service is fundamental to business operations and success. Price a product to low and it can be viewed as inferior but price it too high and there may not be any sales. The price also has to be high enough to provide an opportunity for limited time sales and discount promotions while still maintaining acceptable margins. If a product is distributed nationally or internationally then there will be geographic pricing considerations as well. Products priced at the extreme low end will have money made on high volume sales which directly ties to production capacity and logistics among wholesalers and retailers.
This is the one area which is most directly related to the general perception of marketing and advertising a product. Promotion is about developing your brand and interacting with consumers. This is sometimes done using traditional methods like television and radio and more modern techniques like viral marketing and taste makers. Retail store displays and 2-for-1 giveaways are all tricks of the trade in promoting a product to encourage consumer purchasing behavior.
Is your product sold only to wholesalers at which point your sale is done or do you distribute to the entire retail chain including distributors, affiliates, retail and direct to consumer? As a manufacturer, do you also run your own retail operations or do you sell only to existing retailers? The consideration of place will affect your relationship with consumers and retailers but also determines on whether you are a local, regional, national or international company. Many businesses will also need to consider their Internet and telephone sales operations and how they integrate into more traditional product distribution.
Business marketing's Four P's isn't the end-all be-all of advertising and sales. It is however a good foundation to establish fundamental practices for sound product sell through. Additional information can be found online at various nonprofit and governmental resources as well as consulting agencies and marketing associations. As a business grows it needs to focus even more on the consumer to receive feedback. Consider doing split testing for sales to determine what combination of product, place, price and promotion yield the overall greatest return on marketing budgets.
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