As business students, we all have been engraved with the organized concept of marketing mix and its essential benefits for a sustainable marketing strategy for a company. The marketing mix that revolves around the 4 Ps – product, price, promotion and place, are the elements that helps marketing strategist to plan and strategize its company objective. In recent years, however, the traditional marketing mix has evolved in more Ps- people, packaging and positioning to keep in line with e-commerce, social media and customer competitiveness. In big corporate companies there are frameworks and resources to evaluate and re-visit these elements, however, for any small businesses, your own perspective and knowledge has to be sharpened in the deciding factors. As a small initiator in the business world, I believe patience, perseverance and passion are the way to start. Once they are in the right place, the elements of the marketing mix can be manipulated to achieve the desired objectives.
First of all, as a business person you need to be assured of the product you are selling and its demand in the current market. We cannot opt to sell hurricanes in the era of mechanical torch and electric bulbs. Whereas on the other hand, candles are still in demand because they serve as decorative purpose more than its actual purpose. So the question to be asked, is there a need? Can it be extended into different product line if and when needed? Can it be differentiated from its competitor’s product? What is its USP? Does it give an experience? Customers today are more linked with the outside world than they were 15-20 yrs back, thanks to internet and social media. Hence their demands are much more progressive than what it used to be 10 -15 years ago. Thus a business plan should acknowledge this fact while launching a product.
For a small business, amount of investment is always critical. The pressure can be minimised by your pricing strategy. High investment doesn’t not always mean high return. Unnecessary investment means raising high costs leading to high price. Based on your product’s uniqueness and type, you can decide what and how much investment is needed to determine pricing strategy. Study your competitors’ pricing. Know what the standard price of similar products is and how you can justify competitiveness in your pricing strategy. There are phases in your business calendar when you can up the prices and phases when discounts are necessary. During winter, selling exclusive summer clothes or high priced air coolers are not the smartest.
Promotion creates awareness for businesses. For small business the issue of investment for promotion comes into factor again. Depending on the business type you should opt for relevant marketing activities to avoid cost. If it’s a small online business, then online marketing through social media makes sense at its initial stage. Then gradually dipping the toe in the water you should proceed further with more activities such as working with professional podcast producers, for example, to produce a podcast to help you reach a wider audience and connect with that audience on a more personal level while talking about what you are passionate about. If promotion budget is limited then spreading the amount over a period of phases makes more sense than just spending it at one go. Promotion should be continuous and constant. Early identification of target audience is also essential to avoid unnecessary spending costs. Anti-aging moisturizers creme should not be targeted for people in twenties nor are online gaming apps meant for matured senior groups. If it’s a small business, advertise within your local or relevant community and then widen your arena. This brings us to the next P of the marketing mix – place.
Hiring an SEO agency like SERP Co (https://serp.co/services/seo/) that helps with marketing campaigns can make sure your business attains better visibility among the right customer base. Most small scale business starts locally, and therefore use local SEO to target their customers. As a small business owner, you need to figure the maximum reach of the customers to avoid commute costs. Opening an ice cream parlour in the middle of a Dhaka highway would be less effective unlike opening near school areas. In Bangladesh, just because investment is cheap, opening a coffee cafe in a small town will be pushing your luck a bit too hard. If it’s an online business, target customers need to be studied to avoid increasing delivery costs. With e-commerce in place now, some businesses can focus online without the need for intermediaries.
Then comes the people, who are important part to facilitate and carry out the effectiveness of a business. Determine who are these people who will be handling your product or services? Who will be communicating your vision to the right customers? Who will be responsible for your distribution? Your internal stakeholders are equally important as your external stakeholders.
If your business is product-oriented, then packaging becomes the first visual contact of your standard. For service-oriented business, the dress-up of your people and even the organization of your physical space determines the authenticity and the quality of your business. Banks, financial institution or even lawyers’ offices are sternly decorated and their employees are equally dressed to boast the confidence of the customers in them. However small the businesses are, diligence in packaging or even simply organized website can allure customers to rely on to a much extent.
Then there is positioning. Before starting anything, reflect how you would want your business to be perceived by others. Who do you see buying your products and services? Where do you see yourself going in the next 5 years and so on? Based on what and where you want your brand to stand, position your product and services accordingly.
All Ps in the marketing mix give you the tool to evaluate and re-evaluate your strategy. With the help of these tools, analyze and research before launching your product and services, and continually revisit these Ps and change according to the evolving nature of the market.
MBA in Advanced Strategic Mangement, Cardiff Business School, UK.
Worked in Lafarge Surma Cement, Perfetti Van Melle as Brand Manager. Owner of Aavaron.