By Consumer Dummies

Product, price, placement or position (distribution), and promotion — the four Ps — are considered the basic elements of traditional marketing. These terms apply to social media and other forms of online marketing, as well.

Product

Your product is whatever good or service you sell, regardless of whether the transaction takes place online or off. Product also includes such elements as performance, warranties, support, variety, and size. Review your competition to see which features, benefits, or services they offer, and which products they’re featuring in social media. If you have an online store, look at your entire product mix and merchandising, not just at individual products. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you selling products that the people you’re targeting with social media want to buy?
  • Do you have enough products or services to compete successfully in this environment?
  • Are you updating your offerings regularly and promoting new items often?

Price

Price-comparison sites such as Shopping.com and discount stores online already put price pressure on small businesses. Now mobile social media shopping sites, with the rapid viral spread of news about special offers and price breaks, have put cost-conscious shoppers firmly in the driver’s seat.

No longer can you check only competitors’ websites and comparison-shopping sites for prices. Now you must check to see what they offer visitors to their Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages; their blog readers; those who receive their e-newsletter; and social shopping page customers to gain new customers and hold onto them as loyal, repeat buyers. Any single product or service may now have multiple prices, depending on who’s buying.

Use social shopping and other sites to assess your prices against your online competition. Are yours significantly higher or lower, or are they price competitive?

Your small business can have difficulty competing in the market for standard manufactured goods such as baby clothes or DVDs unless you have excellent wholesale deals from manufacturers or distributors. But you can compete on price on customized goods or services or by offering unique benefits for buying from your company.

If you must charge higher prices than your social media competitors, review your value proposition so that people perceive an extra benefit. It may be a $5 promotional code for a discount on another purchase, a no-questions-asked return policy, exclusivity, or very accessible tech support.

Be careful not to trap yourself into matching prices against large companies with deep pockets. Make tactical financial decisions about loss leaders and discounts for users of particular social media. Consider a less-than-fullfeatured product or service package for social media users if needed (sometimes called the freemium business model).

Placement or position

Placement or position refers to how products and services are delivered to consumers (distribution channels). Where and how are your products and services available? Your website needs to serve as a 24/7 hub for customer research, support, and sales online, but social media offers brand-new opportunities to serve your clients. Best Buy, for example, has already become famous for its twelpforce, in which employees use Twitter to field customer support questions and make product recommendations.

With multiple social marketing outlets, you must be alert for the effects of channel cannibalization (the use of multiple distribution channels that pull sales from each other). Products or services sold directly from social media outlets may depress the sales numbers on your website.

Promotion

Your online and social media marketing plans fall into the promotion category, which includes all the different ways you communicate with customers and prospects, both online and offline. This also includes making people aware of your multiple points of visibility online, almost as though you’re marketing another product. Careful cross-promotion among all your online venues is now as critical as integrating online and offline advertising. Are people aware of all your social media pages? Are you using the right calls to action on those pages to get people to buy?

Don’t continue investing in a social media technique just because everyone else is doing it.