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What is Marketing?

Now Open Sign, Boston small business, exploring the answer to What is marketing? through McCarthy's 4 Ps of Marketing

To really get your head around the question, "What is Marketing?" you have to think about where our current perception of marketing comes from. In this case, we can look back to 1960 when EJ McCarthy broke the concept of marketing down into 4 key components: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. He dubbed the model the “4 Ps of Marketing,” and marketers all over the world have put it to use as the foundation for modern marketing.

Technological advances since the 4 Ps of Marketing were first introduced have created some changes to the perception of the model, but it’s still wholly relevant for business owners and marketing managers today. Here’s a quick look at each of these components, along with some ideas that can help you think about developing or expanding your own marketing program in relation to customers and consumers.

Goods and services being sold to customers

Cookies from Boston Chinatown bakery. They've answered the question "What is marketing" and understand the 4 Ps of marketingProducts are best defined as any tangible good, or intangible service, that a company offers to consumers. There are many components to account for when it comes to defining and refining product. Everything from the name to packaging to design can be a factor in how successful you are with engaging your target market.

While companies often develop their Products based on in house capabilities, you should consider the perspective of prospective buyers who are often searching for a solution to a problem or need of some kind. Think about what is missing from the marketplace. Is there a particular need you recognize that you can fulfill to help your customers be successful? Who will buy what you're offering? Why would customers select your product or service over a competitor's?

Where products are delivered to the market

As a basic concept, place as a physical location mattered more before the internet age and the rise of e-commerce. We don't all need to be developing an army of delivery drones like Amazon, but we do need to consider where our customers are so we can make sure our products and services are available and accessible. This isn't always a brick and mortar store or facility. It also isn't always the internet alone. In practice, a combination of digital and physical is a powerful, balanced approach.

marketing photo in Boston Chinatown | visible sign shows this small business is thinking about the 4 Ps of MarketingConsider where and how your customer base prefers to buy: On the internet, browsing a catalog, or in person? Do they prefer to pay with credit cards or cash? Are they more likely to need local, national, or international service and availability?


How much a customer pays to acquire Product

Price is one place where businesses and consumers would seem to have divergent interests. When businesses think about price, they often think about HOW to price. They think about the size of the market, the cost of production, how big a margin the market will bear, etc. When consumers consider price, more often than not, their consideration takes into account the overall VALUE of the exchange. This means that many aspects of the other three P's of marketing are factored into their decision making process.

Think about the types of questions that may arise from a customer's perspective: "Is a lower priced product of lesser quality?" "Is the company I choose helpful and accessible?" "What happens if I have a problem with this product or service?”

This photo of Boston South Station's big banner is a great image of someone answering the question "What is marketing?"

Creating awareness, understanding, and a means for consumers to consume

Promotion has undergone a great deal of change over the last few years, with a more consumer-centric model replacing the old product driven one. Today, potential customers have access to a great deal of information and data to inform their purchasing decisions. They also have a greater number of options, and more direct access to the producers of exactly what they want.

Because of these changes, modern promotion can be almost entirely viewed from an educational and communicative lens. It still includes advertising, branding, PR and the like, but there's greater opportunity for two-way communication between buyers and sellers. Consider how you can engage your customer base. What platforms do they use to search for products and services? What information do they require to make a purchasing decision? Where do they find this information?

Have a particular marketing experience you’d like to share?
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Jason, for the team at Kendall Press

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Filed Under: marketing, strategy
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