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The 4 Ps of Marketing:
Is Place the Forgotten P?

Marketing Strategy Planning
Focuses Your Mix

The 4 Ps of marketing mix (place, promotion, product and price) need to be part of marketing strategy planning. In the definition marketing strategy, the importance of place (getting the product to the customer) must be emphasized.

Of all the Ps of marketing, place (or distribution) is often overlooked in the marketing strategy planning process.

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Place is the element of marketing mix that will help you think about, and then plan, how to sell your product.

A definition marketing strategy includes marketing mix programs.

Your place or distribution decisions need to be made in the context of the type of business you operate.

Place is about how you make your product available to your customers. As you plan for Place in the 4 Ps of Marketing, you have a number of choices to consider.

Marketing Strategy Planning Needs to Include
Building Marketing Channels

Are you a manufacturer who does not have the capacity or capability of selling direct to many end users?

If this is true, then you will likely want to follow a market channel distribution method that will include a distributor who sells to a retailer, and the retailer will then sell to the end customer.

Some wholesalers and retailers buy the goods and resell the merchandise; these businesses are also called merchants. Others, such as brokers, agents, manufacturer's representatives, or industrial distributors, do not own the goods and sell on the manufacturer's behalf. These channels are made up of inter-dependent organizations working together to get the product to the end customer.

When you are deciding how you want and need to distribute your product, you must consider a number of factors. For instance:

Marketing Mix Place

  • develop a thorough understanding of customer needs and how you can deliver to meet those needs (good customer service management will provide the understanding you need to distribute well);

  • what your business is or is not capable of in terms of warehousing, inventory, shipping, receiving, tracking, etc.;

  • and whether you want to distribute your product exclusively, semi-exclusive or selectively, or saturate the market.

Once you've considered how you want to distribute your product you will need to find and set up channel partner relationships. Try to find a channel partner who is familiar with your product, the marketing segmentation and the customers. Also look for a partner with similar business practices and models - you don't want to have channel conflict with your partner over their business practices, values or ethics.

The 4 Ps of Marketing:

Marketing Mix Place or Distribution

When setting up a channel relationship, do it in writing (with a lawyer). Written agreements should include:

  • length of agreement;
  • goals and objectives - including volume and price;
  • partner training to be provided;
  • assessing changing market conditions;
  • business performance measurement criteria;
  • consideration of how the agreement will deal with partners taking on competitive products;
  • what to do if either partner doesn't meet the agreement terms (e.g. supplied product inferior or late, or distribution issues such as missed delivery, damage in transit, etc.);
  • and any other areas of importance to you.

Retailing Distribution

Are you a retailer who sells directly to end users? Direct selling to end customers can occur via storefronts, vending machines, internet, telemarketing, door to door sales, home parties and more. If this is your situation, you will need to develop a solid market logistics plan for your marketing plan.

There are many different retailer models:

  • department store (physical or online catalogue),
  • corner grocery store (also known as convenience store because it's located conveniently in the neighborhood),
  • food store or supermarket,
  • franchises,
  • off-price or discount stores (e.g. the dollar stores),
  • and more.

These retailers can offer self-serve, self-selection, limited service and full service models - the service model will need to 'fit' the retail model. That is, a discount or off-price store will use a self serve or self selection service model.

Marketing Plan

Note: To quick-start developing your own program, use an example of a marketing mix program as an outline or template for your own business planning.

When building your marketing mix (the 4 Ps of Marketing) for your marketing action plan, you need to use market logistics to plan and control your goods from point of origin to its end use destination (the customer).

The 4 Ps are marketing mix product, marketing mix price, marketing mix promotion, and marketing mix place - and these elements are the foundation of building a strong marketing plan.

Don't overlook Place in the 4 Ps of Marketing: your product does not make any profit until it is delivered to your customer (and paid for).

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Marketing and Life–Cycle

Marketing is a requirement for all businesses: without marketing strategies and tactics your business will struggle to survive.

Not all marketing activities are planned: you might be building your brand recognition through a social media campaign (that's marketing); you might be conducting market research to analyze your competitors and/or segment and target your potential market or to develop the most desirable features, advantages and benefits of your products or services (that's all marketing).

Marketing is pretty all–encompassing; and a challenge for many business owners. The additional challenge is recognizing that the different stages of your business life–cycle: start–up, mid–cycle, mature or late–in–life.

During start–up you need to develop your marketing strategies to grow sales; for example, you might want to use a market penetration pricing strategy to build sales quickly.

During mid–cycle, you need to grow your customer base (often through lead generation) and that need requires different marketing strategies, such as cold calling on prospective clients, email marketing, newsletter and blog sign ups and distribution (all to grow your list of prospects).

During the mature cycle, you need to build your marketing efforts around your brand; your competitive advantage can be in your reputation, history, and identity and on what differentiates your business from your competitors.

Marketing your products and services is not something that you do once (such as a marketing plan) and then never change or do again. You need to be continually researching and building your strategies and tactics to be ahead of the market, and ahead of your competition.

The market is constantly evolving; ever more rapidly with the impacts of globalization and technology. You need to invest resources into marketing to ensure that you build and sustain your business.

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Outsource Your Marketing

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