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What is the marketing mix?

What is a marketing mix? It’s a collection of essential factors that determine how you market your product or service. The marketing mix is a simple toolkit for figuring out what to emphasise in your marketing. 

Where did the concept of marketing mix come from? 

The idea of the marketing mix emerged in the early 1950s, thanks to professors at Harvard and Michigan State University. It proposed a set of levers companies could use to create their entire marketing strategy. For more than 50 years, this system has been widely used by businesses of all sizes, albeit with some changes over time. 

When the marketing mix was first proposed, companies only had to account for physical factors that stopped people from purchasing their product. Now, thanks to the advent of the internet and increasing interaction between businesses and customers, other factors have been added to the marketing mix. 

Marketing mix 4 Ps

When the marketing mix was first proposed, the areas businesses should focus on were referred to as the “4 Ps”. These are still a crucial part of the way businesses use the marketing mix framework today. 

Each area has several questions associated with it that business owners or marketers need to answer in order to position and advertise their products effectively. 


The first P refers to the good or service that you’re offering customers. Your product ideally meets an existing customer need, or is so fresh and unheard of that it creates a new need. That way, you can market based on how effectively you’re solving a problem. To understand whether or not your product is meeting a need, ask yourself: 

  • What are consumers looking for when they search for products like this one?

  • How is the product different from similar existing products? 

  • How are customers perceiving the product? 

It’s also important to understand the life cycle of your product. How long are you expecting there to be a need for what you’re selling? How long before competitors enter the market and split your profits? 

Understanding your product’s life cycle is critical because the way you market will change depending what stage your product is at. 

For example, at the beginning of a product life cycle, you may want to emphasise the novelty of your product. However, if it’s been on the market for a while, your focus may shift to highlighting how dependable you are in comparison to your competition. 


The second P is the amount customers pay for your product. The price you charge will be determined by a variety of factors, both in and out of your control. You’ll need to consider the following: 

  • The perceived value of your product, which goes back to the need you’re meeting. 

  • Supply costs. How much are materials and storage costing you?

  • Your competition. Looking at what competitors charge gives you a rough idea of how much customers are willing to pay. 

  • The connotations you want your product to have. Are you aiming for a perception of luxury? Then higher prices could make sense. 

As stated above, you can control some of these factors. You could lower supply costs by ordering materials or stock in bulk or by dealing directly with manufacturers instead of third party suppliers. And you can decide to offer discounts or not based on the kind of audience you’re aiming to attract. 


Place refers to figuring out where to sell your product and deliver it to your market so that it gets in front of as many people as possible. If you’re in retail, it refers to the location of your shop and where in that shop you display your product. If you have multiple shops, place can involve choosing specific branches to stock certain products in.  

Place can also apply to your advertisements. Which medium is your target audience most likely to respond to? Is it best to advertise on billboards, websites, TV shows, or in magazines? Figure out what your customers consume to learn the best places to feature your product. 


The last factor in the marketing mix 4 P model is promotion. Promotion refers to advertising and public relations more explicitly than placement does, although the two are often connected.

In modern marketing, promotion is both an online and offline endeavour. The goal of promotion is to figure out the best channel to advertise your product, and to construct memorable ways of communicating its benefits. 

Ideally, you’ll use a mix of catchy slogans, compelling copy, images and videos to create the impression you want for your product. When exactly you apply each element depends on which marketing channel you’re using. 

For example, Instagram and other social sharing sites lend themselves well to product videos and shorter, snappy hooks. These can motivate customers to visit your company website, where you can describe your product in more detail.

The channels you invest your time in should be those most used by your target audience. 

Marketing mix 7 Ps

The marketing mix has since expanded to include more service-oriented factors. The marketing mix 4 P model was developed with a heavy focus on selling products. As more service-based businesses emerged, a number of additional considerations arose. 

The marketing mix 7 Ps also reflect a greater degree of interaction between a business and its customers. While the original 4 Ps remain crucial, the additional 3 deal with the less tangible aspects of business marketing. 


In the digital age, customer service is an indispensable facet of any business. Being available to answer questions as soon as they arise and help customers through any issues they’re having is instrumental in getting those customers to return. 

Your people are the primary point of contact for your audience whether you’re communicating via social media, email, over the phone or face-to-face. Your employees’ specialist knowledge is an extremely valuable asset, and the key to resolving customer concerns or complaints satisfactorily.  

Beyond this, emphasising people in your marketing is a great way to humanise your business. Building relationships with customers and putting a human face to your business are worthwhile endeavours, since customers are much more likely to buy from companies they feel connected to


Process is about optimising the customer journey. When you’re looking at ways to do this, try to place yourself in your customer’s shoes. Whether they’re seeing an ad, walking into your store or discovering your website, what are the steps leading up to a purchase? 

Once you know what customers have to go through on their way to buying from you, you can start making their job as easy as possible. Some things you’ll want to address include: 

  • How long customers wait after making an inquiry.

  • How easy it is for customers to go from browsing products to checkout. 

  • How quickly you deliver your product or service. 

  • The updates you send to customers after they’ve ordered from you. 

The idea with all of these factors is to make everything as quick and transparent as possible. You don’t want to leave customers waiting for a response or wondering where their delivery has gone. 

Happily, there are plenty of tools that can help you give your customers a smooth experience. If you’re looking for an ecommerce platform that’s simple and fast for your customers to use, you can open a SumUp Online Store for free

With your own online store, you can make the customer journey as painless as possible. Sorting items into clearly defined categories makes browsing a breeze, and a stripped-down checkout page lets customers place their orders in seconds. 

It’s easy to keep your customer informed every step of the way with automated email updates. And with multiple shipping options, customers have control over how fast they want their items delivered. 

If you’re looking for a simple and affordable way to make your customers’ lives easier, look no further. 

Open your online store

Physical evidence

The last P in the 7 P marketing mix is physical evidence. This refers to customer assessments of your product or service, usually in the form of reviews. 

Social proof is one of the best ways to get people to trust a product. Because it’s so easy to find information online these days, customers often look for existing feedback before making any purchasing decisions. 

Soliciting feedback as part of your marketing strategy does more than just give you legitimacy. It also gives you the opportunity to fix things customers took issue with. And anything that advances the relationship between you and your customers is worth exploring. 


Currently, the marketing mix follows the 7 P model, although not every factor will apply equally to every business. Even so, this framework provides valuable questions for you to ask about your business. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll find it much easier to come up with effective marketing. 

How do you answer these questions? One of the best ways to get started is to conduct market research. It’s important to also keep in mind that though the factors are separate, they influence each other. For example, price influences placement and product influences price. 

Once you have a good understanding of the elements making up your marketing mix, you’ll have more control over how your business is perceived. 

Found this article useful? For more advice and inspiration, continue exploring the SumUp Business Guide. 

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Max Elias