Artykuł ukazał się w Medical Maestro Magazine, Vol. 7, s./p. 889-1036
Even the best, most insightful products or services will not survive on the market if they are unable to reach potential clients. That is why companies need to invest in marketing that will create a bridge between them and their target group. Marketing is sometimes wrongly defined within a narrow context of advertising or selling, however, it is much more than that. At its core, marketing helps companies to identify their target consumers as well as to anticipate and satisfy the needs and requirements of those consumers profitably.
Nevertheless, in order for marketing to be successful, it depends on consciously addressing a number of key issues. Traditionally, these key issues were known as the 4Ps, specifically Product, Price, Place and Promotion. As marketing became a more sophisticated discipline, another “P” was added, that is People. Moreover, recently two other “Ps”were included, mainly for service industries, namely Process and Physical Evidence. All of these are known as the 7Ps of marketing, known also as the marketing mix. Let’s examine each and every “P” to uncover its role and meaning.
A first “P” is Product. This is what is being sold to the client. Product should always be developed with customers’ needs in mind, because it has to provide value for that consumer, not for the company. At times companies make a mistake of deciding what to offer first and wait for the consumers to like it. However, companies should consider the needs and wants of their consumers, and then start developing the right product. In other words, companies need to give customers what they want, not what they think they want. The product should have the right level of quality to meet those needs at present and in the forthcoming future. Similarly to the rest of the “Ps”, companies should constantly be assessing their businesses honestly and decide whether or not their current product or service is appropriate for the market and the customers of that time or whether they should be offering this product or service at all.
A second “P” stands for Price. It is the only part of marketing mix that generates revenue and can be understood as anything that relates to money. Thus, not only is it retail price, but also any discounts, special offers, bonuses, payment plans or credit terms. Price should be competitive, but it does not mean that it should be the cheapest. Products should not be overpriced either. The product is only worth what customers are prepared to pay for it. What is more, it should be remembered that the more one charges, the more value customers expect for their money. Nonetheless, companies ought to revise their prices it is necessary, that is to raise or lower their prices, in order to remain competitive, to survive and thrive in a fast-changing marketplace of today.
A third “P” equals Place. Place is also called Distribution, because it entails the specific location where a product or service is actually sold as well as the means of distributing the product to that place. Companies use different strategies of selling: direct selling, sending their salespeople out to meet and talk with the clients in person, while others sell by telemarketing, through catalogues or mail order. Campanies can also sell at trade shows or in retail establishments or use manufacturers’ representatives or distributors. Many companies use a combination of one or more of these methods to reach more customers. When thinking about Place, one should also consider whether their storage inventory and distribution costs are at the acceptable level. In addition, once in a while companies should review and reflect upon the exact location where the customer meets the salesperson.
A fourth “P” stands for Promotion. Essentially, it is what people think when they hear the word “marketing.” It comprises all the ways companies tell their customers about their products or services and how they market and sell to their customers; it includes spheres such as advertising, sales promotion, PR, corporate identity and branding. Promotion must gain consumers’ attention, be appealing to prospect clients, tell a consistent message and persuade customer to buy the product or service. Whatever method of marketing and sales is used it should be revised from time to time, because it will, sooner or later, stop working.
A fifth “P” is People, which comprises all the people who directly and indirectly engage with the target consumers and the people inside or outside the company who are responsible for every element of product or service sales, marketing strategies, and activities. They make an impression, either positive or negative, on the customer which may or may not lead to purchase. What is interesting, the ability to select, recruit, hire and retain the proper people, with the skills and abilities to do the job you need to have done, is more important than everything else put together.
A sixth “P” equals Process, that is how the system works. It is related to the action of giving the service and the behaviour of those who deliver that service. To fulfil the needs of clients, the system should work smoothly, without delay and problems, likewise, the hired staff should be helpful, competent and open.
The final “P” stands for Physical Evidence. It is sometimes called Proof, because it is used to prove to customers that the service has a great value worth spending the money on. A service cannot be experienced before it is delivered, however, presenting physical evidence in the form of feedback from customers, referral feedback etc. will assure the customer of the company’s competence and the value of its service.
The marketing mix is a holistic system; all “Ps” are interdependent and interconnected. Alone, none of them will work. In the same vein, they have to present a consistent message, so that the customer will not be confused about the company’s image and its values. They all should be designed in the way to suit the target market. Thus, the potential customer should be defined, before we start to think about all the “Ps”.