The Five Ps of a Good Marketing Plan
What really matters in marketing are the points of contact between the customer and your communications, products, and people. These customer interactions (or influence points) with you constitute your marketing program. Take care to list these influence points when designing a marketing program. To make a list of your own influence points, use the following Five Ps of marketing for your categories.
Determine which aspects of the product itself are important and have an influence on customer perception and purchase intentions. List all tangible features plus intangibles, such as personality, look and feel, and packaging — these are the aspects (both rational features and emotional impressions) of your product that influence customer perception.
First impressions are important for initial purchase, but performance of the product over time is more important for repurchase and referrals.
List the aspects of price that influence customer perception. What does it cost the customer to get and use your product? The list price is often an important element of the customer’s perception of price, but it isn’t the only one. Discounts and special offers belong on your list of price-based influence points, too.
And don’t forget any extra costs the customer may have to incur, like the cost of switching from another product to yours; extra costs can really affect a customer’s perception of how attractive your product is. (If you can find ways to make switching from the competitor’s product to yours easier or cheaper, you may be able to charge more for your product and still make more sales.)
List the aspects of placement or distribution (in both time and space) that influence the accessibility of your product. When and where is your product available to customers? Place is a big influence, because most of the time, customers aren’t actively shopping for your product.
Nobody runs around all day every day looking for what you want to sell her. When someone wants something, she’s most strongly influenced by what’s available to her. Getting the place and timing right is a big part of success in marketing and often very difficult.
The web allows you to define your market narrowly and locally, or globally, or (and this is the really exciting idea that many businesses haven’t yet picked up on) in local markets other than your physical one.
For example, if you have a bookstore specializing in children’s and young adult titles, then you would do best to be present in the local areas where there are the most children and young adult readers. The web can narrowly target the top five cities for your product.
List all the ways you have to promote your offering by communicating with customers and prospects. Do you have a website? Do you routinely update your blog, Facebook page, and Pinterest boards? Do you advertise? Send mailings? Hand out brochures? What about the visibility of signs on buildings or vehicles? Do distributors or other marketing partners also communicate with your customer?
If so, include their promotional materials and methods in your marketing program, because they help shape the customer’s perception, too. And what about other routine elements of customer communication, like bills? They’re yet another part of the impression your marketing communications make.
The web hasn’t finished revolutionizing promotion, and you can innovate to get messages out creatively and inexpensively in a lot of ways.
The fifth P is perhaps the most important one, because without people, you can’t have a marketing program. List all the points of human contact that may be important to the success of your program. If you run a small business, this list may just be a handful of people, but even so, include this list in your planning and think about ways each person can help make a positive impression and encourage a sale.
The web has also revolutionized the process of making connections with people. Your professional and business Facebook pages, your blogs (which should be pulled into your Facebook page and your website), your tweets, your Pinterest boards, and so forth are all opportunities to build followers and friendships.