Understanding marketing principles is crucial when creating an effective marketing strategy that helps you grow your business and develop your business in a growth-friendly and sustainable way.
It is easy to start planning a marketing strategy that only focuses on advertising and forgets everything else that makes marketing powerful.
We will go through the marketing principles, help you understand what marketing is in the first place, and how to implement the principles productively.
You’re going to benefit from this 101 approach to marketing, whether you’re an entrepreneur growing your business, a marketer learning the ropes to improve their skills, or you just curious about how marketing works.
But first, let’s answer why you need to understand the marketing principles in the first place.
Why We Even Need Marketing Principles?
Understanding the basics of anything before starting implementing cool and new strategies is essential because, without the basics, we tend to make mistakes we could’ve avoided initially.
As online advertising has become more democratized, so much so, that anyone can do it with a budget of none.
It means, never before, can we go from a marketing idea to execution in a matter of hours instead of months of planning. Therefore, the importance of marketing principles grows widely.
When we have the basics on our side, we learn to look at new strategies and their impact on our businesses critically before jumping on them without understanding our business’s core elements before.
And modern marketing and its methods are fast in implementation, design, and results. If we know how to use the principles to our benefit, we’ll be much faster in our abilities to create unique marketing strategies for any business and products as quickly as we can think of them.
To create something unique and impactful, we need the basics on which we can add.
Next, let’s look at the primary marketing principle that we base our marketing decisions on and explore what marketing is.
The First Marketing Principle: The Four Ps of Marketing
The four Ps of marketing decisions by McCarthy (also called the marketing mix) helps us deliver with the marketing goals we set for our businesses.
The core of the 4Ps of marketing comes down to understanding our business’s core elements through the four different marketing decisions.
Implementing and understanding how the business uses these four decisions today and in the future, to their advantage, largely set the premise for all marketing strategies and decisions.
These are the four Ps of marketing:
The extended marketing mix also includes people, process, and physical evidence (the 7Ps of marketing).
And essentially, all marketing strategies start with the definition of your 4Ps. The Extended mix helps you understand even more about your business, especially for service-based businesses.
If you’re interested in seeing how an online business uses the 7Ps of marketing to build a solid strategy, you can read our article about the online marketing mix here.
As we’re going to explore only through the first four, understanding them first is a core marketing principle.
The product is the core of your marketing mix. It refers to the variety of decisions we have to make about our products to create an effective marketing strategy. And rather than only sell a product, it involves it entirely in the marketing process.
The product in the marketing mix helps you get answers for the following marketing decisions we all have to make:
- What does our product’s branding look like?
- Do we offer a product line versus a single product?
- How do we include packaging in our marketing?
- Is our product online-only or a physical product?
- Do we have upsells?
- What is our after-sales cycle?
- How do we manage updates or guarantees?
- Do we include viral marketing features for our products?
- Does our product solve a customer’s problem?
- How often do we solve the customer’s problem through our product?
We create a better product marketing strategy when we involve our product in the marketing process through these questions.
Without involving the product in marketing strategies, we easily forget that our products are our companies’ core. Plans that don’t include the product will have a more challenging time achieving growth or even sales in the long term.
If we understand everything we can about the products we sell, it becomes easier to recognize the benefits it has to our customers, which makes connecting them with the product more clear for us.
The Price in the marketing mix deals with marketing decisions that evolve around product pricing, customer perceived values, and balances we achieve with modifying pricing with our marketing strategies.
A price can’t be static or something we can never change. Like the rest of our marketing activities, the price must be fluid for marketing needs to maximize the benefits we want to gain.
A better way to look at your product’s pricing is to understand the variety of decisions and questions we have to make about pricing:
- Does our product’s price change (pricing cycles) over time?
- How do we measure price change effectiveness?
- How often do we test pricing?
- Do we offer different pricing for different audiences?
- What pricing tactics and strategies we use for marketing?
- Do we have promotions, and what would a promotional cycle look like?
- Are we including or even measuring the perceived values of our customers?
- Do we understand the time and effort it takes from a customer to get our product in their hands?
- Does our current pricing strategy provide a return on the marketing activities we do?
Pricing is the decision that impacts our revenue the most, and getting it right is not an easy task and requires effort and testing.
But companies who can maximize their pricing or optimize their use of the marketing mix are miles ahead in figuring out profitability with marketing.
Providing customers access to your products is a critical marketing decision. And the place in the marketing mix deals with such questions and decisions.
There are nowadays more distribution methods for our products than ever before, and now more than ever, is it crucial to understand the impact of choosing the right place for your products.
A place has to provide the best convenience to your target audience in the marketing mix.
And how can you determine these best places and strategies surrounding it? Let’s look at some options and questions that help you design a better distribution of your products for your customers.
- How far does your customer have to go to get access?
- Is access to your product frictionless?
- Does the product have a suitable online delivery or an online third-party distribution solution?
- Are you using the right marketing channels?
- Third-party channels vs. owned channels
- How do you manage inventory most conveniently?
- Are the products available where they are wanted the most?
- How can I distribute it faster and more precisely?
- Am I using all the channels my target audience wants to use?
- Where do we drive advertising traffic to?
These decisions are critical for marketing success as they directly impact the way our customers get a hold of our products.
The more friction we create in accessing our products, the less impact other marketing activities will have.
Marketing mix promotion refers to the methods and strategies we use to communicate our products to our customers directly.
Promotion is the advertising part of a marketing mix that most commonly thinks about marketing.
As you can probably already guess, it’s only part of the whole system. But a very critical part of that.
When we figure out the other P’s in the marketing mix, the promotion’s job is to grow the number of customers we reach every time, and if we have succeeded in figuring the rest, our promotion strategies will provide the best ROI.
Advertising first without implementing decisions about product, price, and place will leave us only with a shallow marketing strategy.
The promotion methods within the marketing mix are also called the promotional mix, which includes:
- Personal selling
- Sales promotion
- Direct marketing
- Guerrilla marketing
- Product placement and influencer marketing
- Digital/online marketing
- Growth hacking
By experimentation, most companies will discover a couple of promotion methods and channels that work the best for their products.
Although it’s crucial to remember that the promotion methods are always changing, today’s best channels might not work tomorrow, which means we always need to seek data to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Questions For Discovering The Best Promotional Strategies:
- Where is our target audience spending their time?
- Social media marketing (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn) vs. search engine marketing (i.e., Google ads, SEO)?
- What channels work for our sales funnels?
- How marketing attribution impacts our advertising?
- What is our approach to content distribution?
- What are our promotional goals?
- What is our budget for promotion?
- What channels do we have the skills to use?
- Do we acquire cold traffic or retarget old customers?
Going through these example questions, and creating ones that solve unique problems you face, is critical when evaluating the best promotional channels your business can and should use.
The 4 Cs Of Marketing Mix
The second marketing principle we will include is the 4 Cs of marketing (the Lauternborn’s 4 Cs, to be precise).
In the modern-day, there are many reasons why a traditional marketing mix of the 4Ps might not be enough anymore.
As marketing strategies have got more complex over the years, the introduction of the 4Cs by Lauternborn helps us create better strategies that are more consumer-oriented.
But while using the 4Cs to manage marketing decisions, it doesn’t take away from the core of the 4Ps.
The best way to understand the difference between the Ps and Cs is that Cs builds on top of the Ps to create a marketing strategy fit for a modern business with a consumer-friendly approach.
Therefore, it’s crucial to look at your marketing mix (and the strategy you’re building) through the lens of the Cs too.
We will look at Lauterborn’s version of the four Cs of the marketing mix:
The first C is the consumer that adds to the first P, which is the product. In a nutshell, the primary takeaway is that we want to build and sell products that the consumer truly wants.
And we need to research and understand the consumer behaviors to answer the question of what our target audience wants.
Looking at products through the consumer’s eyes, we are more likely to create and sell successful products.
Let’s look at some example questions which enables your research to find better a consumer problem that you can fix with your products:
- Are there problems your target audience has?
- Do you have a problem that you can fix?
- Does a competitor sell a product that creates additional customer pains?
- Do you have behavioral data that shows a problem where a fix would be incredibly beneficial?
There are many ways to understand consumer wants and needs.
For example, you can either discover the wants and needs through experimentation or research ahead of time.
An important note is that a consumer’s needs always change, which leads to why experimentation through your product and the marketing surrounding it is still necessary.
You also want to have a plan where you deal with the inevitable that not every consumer need is worth the time or even profitable.
Second C is cost, which adds the cost of satisfaction to the original price in the 4Ps.
Instead of maximizing your profits through a solid pricing strategy, here we want to understand your product’s total cost to the end-consumer.
When we figure out our products’ total cost to the consumer, our marketing strategies can reflect that.
When we know the real cost of our products, our strategies to market it are far better. In simple terms, when we see the effort it takes for consumers to enjoy our product, we can consider it.
It also means we are not pushing ourselves into tough race-to-the-bottom pricing competition with our competitors. If we understand the actual cost for the consumer and our competitors don’t, we get the opportunity to add premiums to our pricing.
When calculating the cost, it’s beneficial to get details about your target audience involved in the process. Learn everything you can from your target audience before having an accurate cost evaluation.
Here are core principles to evaluate the real cost of your products for the consumer:
- Does your product create new behavioral habits that take time to learn?
- What is the total time it takes from purchase to initial use and then maximized use?
- Does your product instill guilt for using it?
- How long does it take to convert to a customer from a competing product to yours behaviorally or cost-wise?
The best way to evaluate the cost to satisfy is to look at the whole process and steps your customer will go through during the product’s ownership.
The third C, convenience, is vital when deciding the place for your products. Again, choosing a distribution model in your marketing mix that satisfies your target audience the most is crucial.
What convenience adds to the place in the marketing mix is a change of mindset. Rather than choosing a distribution model that fits your product, it’s about choosing how your customers want to buy your product.
Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to distribute every type of product. Therefore we can customize our distribution to maximize the efficiency we get from marketing.
It’s crucial not to double down on a singular distribution model as all companies serve many types of target audiences with different needs.
We need to learn how our target customers want to get their products, and we need to figure out whether that’s possible or profitable.
For example, going through these questions can help you dig more in-depth about distributing your products in the most consumer-friendly way.
- What channels your target audience is in?
- Can you serve multiple audiences from one distribution model?
- What measures can you take to improve the convenience of buying?
- Do your sales funnel include unnecessary steps?
- Do you offer an online or a physical distribution or both?
- Are you utilizing available marketplaces?
Whatever the type of products you’re selling, the goal will be to create the most convenient way to buy.
The Lauterborn’s final of the four Cs, the communication enhances the promotion P of the marketing mix, including cooperativeness in the way we create promotion and advertising strategies.
The goal is to create a dialogue and base our style of communication to fit our target audiences.
Nowadays, as social media marketing or influencer marketing are still growing, it creates a need for brands to communicate rather than always directly sell to its audience.
The modern marketing strategies we create today have to have both-sided communication. Therefore, how we develop and nurture it across our marketing strategies becomes an essential question to answer.
It’s also crucial to be in the channels where our target audience is or wants to hear from us.
A company has to figure out the best communication channels rather than use them all to no avail.
Here are a few example questions to help you form your communications strategy.
- What platforms is my target audience using?
- What type of content our customers prefer?
- From what issues we are more likely to gain a positive reaction from our customers?
- Traditional advertising vs. online advertising
- Is our strategy producing growth from word of mouth?
- Advertising through different types of influencers or thought leaders vs. direct advertising as a brand
The goal is to create a strategy that establishes a communication channel between customers and brands and that we mold the communication itself to fit our target audiences’ needs.
The marketing process or having a detailed process in a marketing strategy is crucial.
The process is where every decision regarding marketing stems from and helps be more consistent in achieving our goals through marketing.
The process as a marketing principle helps us develop unique strategies for our businesses and help us achieve what we want from marketing.
This section will talk specifically about the marketing process and not the process in the extended marketing mix.
The elements of the marketing process we’ll discuss:
- Marketing research
- Marketing planning
- Marketing implementation
- Marketing analytics
The process we’ll describe here is meant to guide you through the other marketing principles and implement them in the real world. The point is to get you started on the right path.
Through these four steps, you will create a baseline strategy on how to look at marketing in your business’s decisions and, most importantly, how to achieve growth.
The marketing process will feature four questions that you need to answer as best as possible to gain the process’s benefits.
- What is your marketing problem?
- What is the goal of marketing?
- How are you going to achieve said goals?
- How will you know if you succeeded or not?
These base questions help you purposefully design a marketing strategy that uniquely uses your advantages when you start planning the implementation of your business’s marketing principles.
Research is an essential tool for discovering the best way to do marketing in your business and for the customers it targets.
The goal of marketing research is to discover how modifying the parts of your marketing mix impacts expected customer behaviors, leading to an optimized marketing mix, leading to growth and other goals you have.
As a process, the research is a crucial method to implement when you plan marketing activities.
Well-done research can save a lot of headaches and uncover opportunities you might’ve missed earlier. By gathering and analyzing data, we will make better decisions for creating marketing plans and strategies based on reality or well-researched hypotheses.
The point of doing marketing research within your process is to uncover your starting point in marketing.
Depending on where you’re in the journey of marketing your products, your access to data (the more impactful data, the better) will inherently be very different.
If you’re starting, you will lack access to valuable data, and your research will be vaguer or based upon the data others have released.
But if you have access to impactful data, always use it to your advantage for marketing research.
When you create your research and the questions and goals you want to achieve and have answers, the next principle is developing a plan that fits your research.
One of the core marketing principles is planning and how we use the marketing mix, in reality, to effectively achieve growth through marketing to our business.
Every business should have an evolving marketing plan that recognizes its strengths and weaknesses to build their unique marketing strategies.
At its core, it’s’ about understanding
- What do we want to achieve
- How we are going to achieve it
- Through what measures and resources we are going to achieve it
- And how we measure performance
The force that combines all of the marketing principles together under one goal is marketing analytics. Through analytics, we learn everything we need about our past, current, and future marketing activities.
Marketing analytics is a marketing principle that you shouldn’t underestimate. It helps us understand what we are trying to do, how we want to achieve it, and whether we achieved anything at all.
It shows us whether we have a problem or an opportunity in our marketing mix.
We should consider analytics to be part of every other marketing principles as, without it, optimization and further insights are impossible.
Data, metrics, and KPIs are crucial for building sustainable marketing that yields a return every time or gets us closer to getting a return.
In a nutshell, marketing analytics covers everything we do to measure and analyze the marketing data available.
It can be as simple as tracking sales or using web analytics to discover our perfect audiences or as hard as we need to better understand our goals and achieve them.
Companies can be in very different stages for data availability, collection, and analysis, but analytics helps every company achieve more through marketing.
To take advantage of marketing analytics, we need to have a proper process for collecting and using data in our everyday marketing decisions.
In conclusion, these marketing principles answer what marketing is using Ps and Cs of the marketing mix.
Implementing these marketing basics into your decision workflow will help you create strong, unique, and impactful marketing strategies that will enable you to achieve growth tomorrow.
And while marketing and the methods of promotion and advertising changes every year, the basics stay the same. As a helpful tool, the marketing mix helps you evaluate whether a new and cool strategy will be worth it to your business.
Always remember to include experimentation, analytics, and documentation when implementing marketing basics in the real world.