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I bet you’ve come across the term “marketing mix” countless times, wondering what it means and what super-secret strategy hides behind it.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no secret marketing strategy known only to a select few entrepreneurs who sit around a table and decide the fate of the business world.

Everyone enjoys Stephen King’s government conspiracy books and the notion of powerful entrepreneurs manipulating our destinies like marionettes.

However, the reality is quite different.

Entrepreneurial methods and the most effective marketing strategies are not shrouded in secrecy, nor is there any one individual or group that holds absolute authority over others.

What truly drives success in business and marketing is simply grounded in common sense.

“So what about those business gurus who invite you to their $10,000 masterclasses promising to sell you the most secret strategy on Earth?”

Well, there’s nothing like that, they’re just scams.

You won’t find anything more in their masterclasses than what you can find on my free blog.

And the concept of the marketing mix is no different.

However, despite being quite basic, the marketing mix is a fundamental concept in marketing and business, crucial for planning and implementing effective strategies.

The marketing mix is a dynamic combination of four elements common to any business, which every company worldwide, regardless of sector or size, uses to increase sales of their products or services.

Or both.

These four elements are: product, price, place (distribution), and promotion.

In business jargon, these four elements are commonly referred to as the “4Ps” of marketing.

We’ll delve into each of them in detail in this blog post.


The 4Ps of Marketing Mix

Product

The product stands as the cornerstone around which all other marketing strategies revolve.

Contrary to what some business pseudo-gurus may claim, the product matters, and it matters significantly.

It represents not only the physical object or service offered to consumers but also encompasses added value such as brand, design, quality, features, and benefits that set it apart from competitors.

The success of a product, the golden rule of any business, lies in its ability to solve a problem or meet a specific need of the customer more effectively or affordably than competitors.

A notable example is Apple with the iPhone. Before its launch in 2007, cell phones mainly had physical buttons, and internet browsing was limited and not particularly user-friendly.

The iPhone revolutionized the industry by introducing the concept of a touchscreen smartphone, almost entirely eliminating the need for physical buttons.

Price

Price reflects the economic value of the product and stands as the marketing mix element that typically generates revenue.

Determining the price of a product is a complex process.

The company must carefully analyze various variables since the prices set will impact the perception of the brand and its offerings, as well as sales.

To determine the ideal price of a product, one must consider consumers, competitors, the company’s goals and aspirations, and of course, the current economic climate.

Promotion

Promotion is the broadest aspect of the marketing mix, encompassing all techniques and activities used to communicate our unique selling proposition to the target market segment and persuade them to purchase.

The topic of marketing and promoting a business deserves separate treatment, which you can find for free in this blog post: What is Marketing“.

Place (Distribution)

Place or “distribution” refers to the channels through which the product is sold and made available to the end consumer.

This can include physical stores, ecommerce, distributors, intermediaries, and so on.

Choosing the distribution channels is crucial to ensuring product availability where and when the customer desires, directly influencing customer satisfaction and brand perception.

As explained in the blog post What Makes a Business Successful“, it’s essential that you – even if you manage a physical store – make your products available to your customers 24/7 and purchasable worldwide.


The Fifth P: People


Over the years, marketing has evolved to adapt to the changing needs of consumers and the increasingly complex market dynamics.

Ever since E. Jerome McCarthy proposed the 4P model in the 1960s, marketing professionals have continued to explore ways to extend this formula to make it more inclusive and representative of modern strategies.

This led to the birth of the fifth P: people.

The addition of people underscores the importance of human interactions in the marketing process.

Companies recognize that both their employees and customers play crucial roles in the success of a marketing strategy.

Once, fear was the lever upon which every marketing strategy was based.

To persuade you to buy their product, they had to tell you (and often invent) that without their product/service, you would have encountered the worst misfortunes and everything would have gone wrong for you.

Even then, I despised this way of working, common especially among sellers of fluff like Dan Kennedy.

Fortunately, ethics are now prevailing, and adding the personal factor to the marketing mix equation is leading marketing, especially content marketing, to spread content full of positivity and optimism.

People are no longer sold through fear but solely through positive feelings.

If you succeed in this endeavor, as I explain in the blog post What Is Content Marketing“, people will fall in love with your company.


The History of the Marketing Mix: From Fundamental Concept to Global Strategy


Let’s delve into a bit of history to wrap up this blog post on the marketing mix.

The concept of the marketing mix was originally coined by Neil Borden, who introduced the idea back in the ’50s.

The term “marketing mix” gained popularity after Borden used it in a speech in 1953, building upon the works of his colleague, James Culliton.

Culliton depicted the role of a marketing director as a “mixer of ingredients.”

However, the modern formula of the famous 4Ps is credited to E. Jerome McCarthy, an economics professor at Michigan State University (MSU), who first presented it in his book “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach” published in 1960… a cornerstone in marketing that unfortunately is now out of print (though some used copies are available on Amazon at exorbitant prices).

Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach by E. Jerome McCarthy book cover
Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach by E. Jerome McCarthy book cover.
Source: Amazon.

The introduction of the 4Ps marked a revolutionary step from previous product-centric approaches, providing a customer-oriented framework to anticipate and meet consumers’ needs and desires.


Expanding upon the groundwork laid by his predecessors Borden and Culliton, McCarthy laid the foundation for a framework that would become a cornerstone in modern marketing.

Indeed, despite its age, the marketing mix strategy is still utilized by entrepreneurs worldwide, including multinational corporations such as Meta, Apple, Microsoft, Google (Alphabet), and so forth.

It’s another testament to the fact that there are no secret strategies in business.

Technologies may change, allowing us to perpetuate our marketing message through unimaginable media and ancestral wizardries based on the metaverse, artificial intelligence, and “C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate” (Blade Runner, 1982).

All very cool and exciting.

But in the end, it always comes down to selling a product to a crowd of people who have shown the willingness to buy it.

Today, I’m feeling sentimental, so I’ll conclude this blog post with a quote from the great Glenn Frey:

“This old world still looks the same.”

Always remember this when you’re crafting your first marketing strategy.