Marketing requires a lot of hard work (effort), time, money especially in an incredibly competitive and often oversaturated market. Achieving any notable success from Share of Mind and Wallet is often fleeting when your brand’s product or service is commoditised. In order to increase brand awareness and recognition, marketers need to consistently bring in new clients to their business and make the general public aware of their companies’ products/ service and brand names. It requires building trust and loyalty (which is crucial for long-term success).
“Strategy without Tactics is the slowest route to victory.
Tactics without Strategy is the noise before defeat.” - SunTzu
In order for any effective strategy to be created it requires marketers to arrive at an optimum marketing mix for their product(s) or service(s). Over the last 4 decades marketing professors and gurus have built on the 4Ps of Marketing to eventually arrive at the 8Ps of Marketing to encapsulate not just a more holistic marketing mix but also the evolving consumer i.e. their biases, behaviors and preferences.
The Product can be a tangible (i.e. an actual product) or an intangible (i.e. an idea or an experience or a service). As with all products and services there are related aspects like Design, Quality, Features, Packing, Warranty, etc. that are associated with the product or service. Not all stages within a product lifecycle are the same or equal.
The first stage in the product’s lifecycle (ie. at its core) is a Need or Benefit that the product fulfills
The second stage in a product’s lifecycle is the absolute basic or essential features. Most product startups call this stage the “Minimum Viable Product - MVP” which has just enough features to satisfy early-stage consumers and is usually for testing
The third stage in the product’s lifecycle would be the Expected Product; which usually represents all the features and benefits that consumers expect
The fourth stage in the product’s lifecycle consists of additional value-added and complementary services; for example - shipping, installation, after-sales and customer service, warranty, etc.
The fifth stage in a product’s lifecycle consists of all modifications and upgrades that the business can make before having to develop a completely new product
In the case of a service, there exist 3 stages in the service lifecycle:
The first stage is the core service; which is the core problem and solution benefit that the consumer seeks.
The second stage consists of the supplementary services for example, invoicing, order taking, information creation and dissemination, exceptions, consultation, billing, payment collection, etc.
The third stage is the delivery process; for example the time, staff, process, customer role, etc
Consumer adoption too is an evolving process as adopters are often divided.
There are those that see themselves as Innovators and are usually willing to try new ideas and products for a cheap price. These type of adopters allow companies to discover weaknesses in a product before it goes to market
Early Adopters are those who are not only less price-sensitive but need the initial bugs to be sorted out before opening their wallet. They appreciate superior customer support and higher levels of personalization.
The Early Majority Adopters represent the mainstream market and are those who will buy only after the benefits are proven
The Late Majority Adopters are usually conservatives who dislike risk and prefer buying on discount or cheaper prices
Finally are the Laggards; this cohort of adopters are those who resist innovation and buy for convenience rather than novelty
Over time, without continued development and improvement, all sales for a specific product will eventually decline. Therefore for any business to continue to achieve market growth, they must innovate and improve their product or service, keeping in mind the wants, needs and desires of their ideal customer (i.e. the Early and Late Majority).
Most often companies define their solution price basis their nearest competitors. Consumers on the other hand define price basis their perceived value of the product or service, in addition to the trade-off they are willing to make for the product or service in relation to their time and effort. Arriving at an effective pricing strategy is a delicate balance that should be managed carefully due to the number of internal and external elements involved (eg. Fixed costs, Variable costs, Organizational objectives, Production capacity, Product life cycle, Brand, etc.). Priced too low affects not just profitability but also the ability to invest in future innovations, marketing and talent. Priced too high, and nobody buys your solution. If your solution is commodity-based (eg. Rice, Sugar, Milk, etc.) then following a Cost-based Pricing might be one way to go. A better way would be to implement a Value-based Pricing. This pricing strategy requires that the company have an exceptionally high knowledge of their ideal customer and their behavioural psychology.
Promotion includes all types of advertising and promotional activities (both offline and online). Develop a strong marketing funnel to aid in Brand Awareness, Product Preference and Purchase. Any form of promotion communication should ideally lead with the benefits to the consumer along with details on what makes the product or service unique.
Place is the location where consumers can actually buy the product or service. It could be a physical store or an online marketplace or even the brand’s e-commerce website. The experience that the customer has once arriving at the place directly impacts his willingness even before buying the product or service.
People include internal teams, partner networks (B2B2C) as well as end customers. In order for end consumers to become brand advocates, it is imperative that the organisation develops and promotes the right culture, manages employee satisfaction as well as partner expectations, as they can and do influence not only each other but also the end customer experience.
All elements (e.g. Welcome, Design, Trouble Shooting, Standardization Vs. Personalization, System Failures, Resource Identification and Deployment, Guidelines, Operating Manuals, etc.) that are involved towards delivery of product or service to a consumer. Well-grounded and holistic processes ensure that customers know exactly what to expect before, during and after their engagement with the brand.
Physical Evidence represents not just all the environmental elements (e.g. Furniture, Facilities, Equipment, etc.) involved in the customer experience but also elements that act as proof of quality delivery (Billing & Receipts, Warranty Cards, etc.)
Philosophy represents the reason / purpose behind the brands existence. The 'Why' should a consumer choose your brands solution vs. others. Philosophy includes communicating essential brand elements like their Vision, Mission and Values of the business
While the 8 Ps of Marketing are still very much relevant, a distinction flip (i.e. shifting focus from what companies had to sell customers TO what customers needed or wanted to buy, that companies could deliver) resulted in Customer Centric and Collaborative Marketing Mix (i.e. 7 Cs of Marketing)
In all businesses, whether product or service, a solution involves solving a real problem that exists. By keeping the customer at the center of the solution being provided ensures that companies not only develop products and render services that are needed, but also that there is a deep understanding of the ideal customer so as to avoid marketing inefficiencies and wastage.
Consistency of messaging across all marketing channels ensures that customers are given clarity not just to the product and service they are buying but also that there is a clear and consistent Value Proposition being communicated.
Customers are constantly bombarded with information. In order for marketers to break through the noise and the clutter, there is a need to find innovative and creative ways to grab customer attention with storytelling
Culture plays a big role in purchase decisions. In a country like India, with a civilization that has been around for more than 4500 years, filled with diverse cultures and traditions, that communicate in over 121 languages and 19,500 dialects... Understanding not only how internal culture impacts business but also the role of a product or service in context to culture by conducting research is imperative for market success.
Having the right communication i.e. Tone of Voice, basis customers’ level of awareness within the marketing funnel, in a manner where there is real Value Creation for the customer and this is communicated with empathy helps build loyalty.
In life, change is the only constant. Marketers that adjust their marketing strategies and pivot to accommodate the target customers’ ever-changing needs and desires, socio-economic drivers, technology advancements and adaptation will not only improve marketing effectiveness but also drive organizational growth.
The media landscape continues to rapidly evolve as technology progresses. Paid Media Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Multichannel and Omni Channel Marketing, in addition to traditional media have made marketing easier (i.e. to reach new customers and new markets, hyper targeting, etc.) especially with marketing automation tools. However while technology has made these market channels for better human interaction undeniable, it has raised unique challenges for marketers.
3 Default Caveats in any Marketing Mix
While the importance of Convenience is not to be understated, Convenience has become table-stakes in the minds of the consumers. No customer wants to wait 30/ 60/ 90 days for a product to be delivered or a service to be rendered. Neither do they want to travel vast distances to purchase a solution, or wait in long queues to buy a product. They want it delivered to their doorsteps. If it is being customized, then the wait time should be as little as possible.
All marketers operate in a competitive environment. Unless your company is working on the latest cutting edge in technology innovation, it is foolish to believe that your brand has no competition. In such a competitive environment, understanding how to differentiate your brand and WHY a prospect customer should choose your brand over another , where your brand is truly creating value, what are your product pricing strategies, how is your revenue model different, can give your brand its Unfair Competitive Advantage.
A brand that cannot create, sustain and build credibility is a dead brand. Every action the marketers made from inception should be towards building and reinforcing brand credibility. Becoming a credible resource for clients, or building a credible product or deliverable a credible service increases referrals, induces repeat orders, creates positive brand image and builds lifelong brand advocates.
It is immaterial whether as a marketer you follow the 8 Ps or the 7 Cs of Marketing Mix. What is critical to business success and continued growth is that companies remain customer-centric in their product development, service delivery and solution fulfillment. To do this, marketers must validate their Marketing Mix by asking themselves these 9 questions to help focus on the most important aspects of their marketing mix and its overall fit towards organizations growth and marketing effectiveness
Is there consistency between the various elements of the marketing mix?
Do these elements form an integrated whole that is harmonious?
Is each element being given its best leverage to deliver to its full potential?
Are the target market segments precise and explicitly defined?
Does the overall marketing mix as well as each independent element meet and fulfill the needs of the defined target segment?
Does the marketing mix build on the companies tangible strengths and culture?
Does the marketing mix correct for existing weaknesses?
Does the marketing mix enable creating a distinctive personality for the brand in a competitive environment?
Does the marketing mix protect the company from obvious competitive threats?
While the role of marketing is to bridge the gap and reduce the friction between what companies have to sell and what customers want to buy, for marketers to be truly successful, the answer is rooted in an ability to successfully blend long-term thinking with incredible performance in the short term.
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