The marketing mix or the 7Ps of marketing were developed to provide assistance to the business owner in planning his go to market strategies. When creatively ‘mixed’ within the context of the specific market environment, there is greater likely hood of success.
In conclusion of the article, we will now look at the last 5 elements which include Place, the Promotion, the Physical environment and the People.
Let’s take our analogy from a product we all know. There are very few places in our world today where the thirst for a bottle of Coca Cola cannot be quenched. This product is available in 200 countries around the world and the word Coca cola is said to be nearly as well known as the word 'a'. Coke, as is popularly called, is always there, always available. The point here is that making your offering available when and where it is needed by your prospective customers is crucial. I remember when a well-known travel agency sent me a very good email, advertising their holiday packages. I was convinced to make a booking for my upcoming family holiday and promptly went on to the advertised site. I was quite excited at first only to find myself, 30mins later still struggling to make that booking. Frustration soon set in and I abandoned the effort. I saw that phone numbers was provided as an alternative but I was no longer interested. Not after what I had been through. This ingredient of the marketing mix simply asks that you pay attention to your availability and reach. Make sure you are there in as many ways as your customers need you to be and if you cannot be there, let them know. Website development is a dime a dozen these days, so most entrepreneurs can afford one, but please make sure whatever interactive platforms you have there, actually work. Check regularly.
There is a saying that not promoting your product is like winking at a beautiful lady across the room. You know you are winking but nothing is happening because she cannot see you. You need to give visibility to what you are selling. Let the buyer know why he has to go with yours out of the many equally attractive looking offers he is seeing in the market. Good promotion differentiates your offering and builds your brand. Besides the inherent promotion of having a good product in the first place, you can promote your offering in a variety of ways. Traditional advertising on radio and press are quite common. You also have press releases and featured articles, SMS messages and email, Events and sponsorships, merchandising items such as fliers, pull up banners etc. and of course the very present online media. A well- managed promotion should not cost you an arm and a leg. The key is to be as focused or as targeted as possible. Don’t try to reach everybody. Determine which specific group of people you want their patronage and just continue to drip communication to them. Don’t allow yourself to be forgotten and ensure that when you are remembered, it is not for the wrong reasons.
Suppose you saw an advert in the local paper for a hotel in a town where you normally visit for business. You decide to check this hotel out only to step into the lobby and be hit by a very strong odor. You are unlikely to approach the receptionist to ask any questions. The physical presence is an important pointer to what your service would be. There is an office talk that says ' show me a cluttered desk and I will show you a cluttered mind'. Your environment must speak to the quality of your service. Don’t neglect it.
I once ordered a cake from a vendor and was quite upset when I called 30mins to when the cake should have arrived only to be told that the only available vehicle was yet to return from the last delivery. I asked the lady at the other end to get someone on a taxi and get the item to me and she said that was not their policy. So what was I supposed to do? ‘I am sorry ma….’. The cake arrived 1 hour late. You can be sure that was the last time I ordered a cake from that vendor. I am not considering going back to make another order.
Ensure you have laid out and well-oiled process for servicing your business and ensure your staff know this process as well and have the liberty to take impromptu decisions, within specific limits, when they have to. Your process must be tied to the values you want to uphold.
Finally the element of People. Do your staff understand what is expected of them? Are they being measured against those expectations? Do they understand what you are selling and the values you want to maintain? Are they trained to sell your offering? Informal research has shown that Nigerian business owners don't want to train their people because they 'know that the staff will leave for another business after they have gained from the training or experience'. This is counterproductive. It is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Your business would not grow and neither will your people. There has to be some altruism to being a part of the society that gives you business.
The 7Ps of marketing is perhaps one of the most applicable concepts for businesses whether small or big. It brings to fore the very pivotal role played by marketing in the success of an enterprise. The way you wish to apply them in going to market should form the basis of your marketing plan.
See you soon.