7 Ps of Marketing
The 7 Ps are a set of recognised marketing tactics, which you can use in any combination to satisfy customers in your target market. The 7 Ps are controllable, but subject to your internal and external marketing environments. Combining these different marketing tactics to meet your customers' needs and wants is known as using a 'tactical marketing mix'.
For decades, most marketing agencies used the 4 P’s of the marketing mix: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. Today, the marketing mix has evolved to fit a larger, more complex marketing landscape.
How do you create a proper marketing strategy for the future? How can you keep up with your competitors, exploiting all the latest technological developments at a time of rapid change? It deals with what a company is going to produce; how much it is going to charge; how it is going to deliver products or services to the customer; and how it is going to tell its customers about its products and services. Traditionally, these considerations were known as the 4Ps — Product, Price, Place and Promotion. As marketing became a more sophisticated discipline, a fifth ‘P’ was added — People. More recently, two further ‘P’s were added — Process and Physical evidence. Originally formulated for the service industry, they are just as important in other sectors.
In the 1990s, as experts realised that business had to become more customer-centric, an alternative ‘4 Cs’ of marketing was proposed. Correlating almost directly with the original 4PS, they were: Customer, Cost, Convenience and Communication. The 7Ps model, however, has endured and more than adequately incorporates today’s customer-first marketing world.
Once you've developed your marketing strategy, there is a "Seven P Formula" you should use to continually evaluate and reevaluate your business activities. These seven are: product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people. As products, markets, customers and needs change rapidly, you must continually revisit these seven Ps to make sure you're on track and achieving the maximum results possible for you in today's marketplace.
- Product - The Product should fit the task consumers want it for, it should work and it should be what the consumers are expecting to get.
- Place – The product should be available from where your target consumer finds it easiest to shop. This may be High Street, Mail Order or the more current option via e-commerce or an online shop.
- Price – The Product should always be seen as representing good value for money. This does not necessarily mean it should be the cheapest available; one of the main tenets of the marketing concept is that customers are usually happy to pay a little more for something that works really well for them.
- Promotion – Advertising, PR, Sales Promotion, Personal Selling and, in more recent times, Social Media are all key communication tools for an organisation. These tools should be used to put across the organisation’s message to the correct audiences in the manner they would most like to hear, whether it be informative or appealing to their emotions.
- People – All companies are reliant on the people who run them from front line Sales staff to the Managing Director. Having the right people is essential because they are as much a part of your business offering as the products/services you are offering.
- Processes –The delivery of your service is usually done with the customer present so how the service is delivered is once again part of what the consumer is paying for.
- Physical Evidence – Almost all services include some physical elements even if the bulk of what the consumer is paying for is intangible. For example a hair salon would provide their client with a completed hairdo and an insurance company would give their customers some form of printed material. Even if the material is not physically printed (in the case of PDFs) they are still receiving a “physical product” by this definition.
Fundamental Characteristics of a Service
There are five fundamental defining characteristics of a service. These characteristics are the basis of the 7P model for marketing. These are:
- Intangible – Primary to the definition of a service is the notion that there is no tangible result of the service in the customer’s hand. The customer does gain something when they leave. This may be legal advice or a checkup by a doctor. Tangibility needs to be created within the experience and this is done through the environment in which the service is delivered.
- Heterogeneous – All service experiences are unique. This means that there is a variety that needs to be anticipated and catered for. Factors external to a customer or a service provider such as traffic or a storm can impact the service experience. In addition, factors internal to either of the two participants can also have an impact such as personality traits or a bad day. Apart from this, the same person may react to the same situation differently on two different days. All these factors make it hard to provide a standard service experience.
- Production and Consumption – A service is created and used up at the same point in time. This means that the customer and the employee are both part of the process and are equally important to the experience. The employee needs to be trained extensively while the customer’s expectations can be managed through marketing communication activities.
- Perishable – A service can be stored, returned or resold. This means that it is immediate and bound by time. Proper processes need to be in place to make sure that service provision capacity is utilized to an optimum degree, to mitigate periods of high or low demand.
- Lack of Ownership – Because the customer does not end up retaining ownership of a tangible product, they have nothing to take away from the service except their experience. This means that over time, once the experience memory has diluted, there may be an issue with comparing brands. Companies are constantly trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors to build a loyal customer base.
Using the 7Ps Model
Companies can use the 7Ps model to set objectives, conduct a SWOT analysis and undertake competitive analysis. It's a practical framework to evaluate an existing business and work through appropriate approaches whilst evaluating the mix element as shown below and ask yourself the following questions:
- Products/Services: How can you develop your products or services?
- Prices/Fees: How can we change our pricing model?
- Place/Access: What new distribution options are there for customers to experience our product, e.g. online, in-store, mobile etc.
- Promotion: How can we add to or substitute the combination within paid, owned and earned media channels?
- Physical Evidence: How we reassure our customers, e.g. impressive buildings, well-trained staff, great website?
- People: Who are our people and are there skills gaps?
- Partners: Are we seeking new partners and managing existing partners well?
Example of a Company using the 7Ps strategy
Take a look at HubSpot as an example, which was founded in 2006; Hubspot has 8,000+ customers in 56 countries and sells software. What does their marketing mix look like? This is a top level overview; you would take this into greater detail and ask the following questions: 1. Products/Services: Integrated toolset for SEO, blogging, social media, website, email and lead intelligence tools. 2. Prices/Fees: Subscription-based monthly, Software-As-Service model based on number of contacts in database and number of users of the service. 3. Place/Access: Online! Network of Partners, Country User Groups. 4. Promotion: Directors speak at events, webinars, useful guides that are amplified by SEO and effective with SEO. PPC Social media advertising, e.g. LinkedIn. 5. Physical Evidence: Consistent branding across communications. 6. Processes: More sales staff are now involved in conversion. 7: People: Investment in online services. 8. Partners: Hubspot looks to form partnerships with major media companies such as Facebook and Google plus local partners including Smart Insights who it is collaborating with on research in Europe.
- Defining the 7P's of Marketing Business Queensland
- How did the 7Ps Model come about? The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)
- What are the Elements of 7P's of Marketing? Professional Academy
- What are the Fundamental Characteristics of Service that Form the Basis of the 7Ps Model for Marketing Cleverism
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