Chances are, if you’ve found this blog about B2B marketing, you’ve been tasked – at one time or another – with creating a marketing strategy. A roadmap, from start to finish, that dictates your goals, challenges, actionable items, and projected results.
If that’s true, then I’d also be willing to bet that you’ve been overwhelmed once or twice in your life.
No, I’m not psychic, but I do know that the prospect of mapping out your entire marketing strategy can be a daunting one. You want to make sure that you’ve thought of absolutely everything…
Luckily, there’s a process that can help to make your life exponentially easier. ‘The 9 Ps marketing mix’ offers an organized structure that you can use to plot out the steps of your marketing strategy in a way that makes each step along the journey seem like less of a climb unto themselves.
Using The ‘9 Ps Marketing Mix’ to Up Your Marketing Strategy
One thing to note is that there is no shortage of ‘marketing strategies’ to be found online. I’m sure you’ve come across other helpful mnemonic devices, acronyms, abbreviations, and rhymes that help when it comes to organizing your thoughts and processes.
The 9 P’s is another one of those (albeit an extremely helpful version of one of those). It was developed in 2007 by Larry Steven Londre as a way to help marketers develop their brand. It’s a detailed process, and it’s something to keep in mind when thinking about your marketing strategy.
But remember, not every strategy is going to work for every person.
It might be helpful to think of this process as a guideline that you can use to inform your own process that will work for you.
Now, without further ado, this is what the 9Ps marketing mix consists of:
P #1: Planning & Research
The first ‘P’ (as you may have guessed) is planning.
Like any good strategy, the 9 Ps starts by laying out a plan and conducting your research.
Like we’ve written about many times before on this blog, you won’t be able to effectively market your offerings if you don’t know who you’re marketing to.
Planning for your audience means more than knowing who would most benefit from your products or services, though. It means knowing what they’re interested in, where you can reach them, the type of competition your offerings have, how you can surpass the competition, etc.
Without proper research conducted prior to running your campaigns, you’re basically just flying blind.
You may turn a profit, but without the data to show what worked and why, it’s going to be difficult to replicate success in the future.
P #2: Product
Your ‘product’ is any of your goods and services offered.
This ‘P’ is useful to determine what your branding is going to look like. What’s the last brand you can think of that doesn’t have any sort of memorable branding, packaging, art design, motif, or the like?
This is all important to think about when determining how your product is going to look. Remember, you want people to be able to call you to mind quickly.
If your ‘product’ is a little more nebulous, like SaaS for example, this ‘P’ should impact how your website looks. After all, your website is kind of like the packaging for your services, wouldn’t you agree?
P #3: People
This is the step where you can really start thinking about who your product is for.
Build out some buyer personas. Pull together a collection of shared characteristics that you believe your ideal customers to have.
This determines your target market. What industry would your product be most helpful in? What budget are the people who would most benefit from your product working with? What is a common pain point that these people experience?
These are all points that should not only inform who you’re marketing to, but how you should be marketing to them.
Tip: It’s never a bad idea to develop a few buyer personas. This will allow you to experiment with strategies for different groups to determine what works best for you.
P #4: Price
Pricing is where you get to determine the value of your product.
This is obviously an important ‘P’ in the 9 Ps marketing mix, for a number of reasons.
The number attached to your product does a little bit of marketing in its own right. How? Join me in a little thought experiment.
Have you ever been out shopping, and avoided purchasing something because the price was ‘so low that there’s no way it was quality’? Or how about putting something back because ‘it seemed nice but on second though, that’s way too much money’.
Your pricing holds a lot of power and can be the difference between your buyers thinking of you as a value and a scam.
This isn’t to say you should be afraid of your pricing (something that’s all to common with B2B businesses). Quite the opposite.
You should be able to leverage your pricing – whatever it is – into a point in your favour. You’re more expensive than the competition? What do you offer that makes you a better value than your competitors?
You’re a less expensive option? How can you compete in your product’s space?
These are all factors that you’ll need to consider when plotting out your price.
P #5: Promotion:
This ‘P’ focuses on the methodology with which you’ll communicate your products to your target audience.
This encompasses every method of communication, from direct marketing, to personal selling, content marketing, outbound marketing, email marketing, etc. Basically, how are you going to get the word out about your offerings?
For this ‘P’, it’s important to look back to the first and third ‘Ps’. You should already have a basic strategy mapped out for what avenues you’re going to pursue when pitching your products, but has this changed at all since you more closely examined who your target audience is?
For example, you may have thought that LinkedIn was going to be a sure thing in the planning stage, but after you decided that your audience is likely between the ages of 18-24, you might have to adjust that and look running campaigns on Twitter and Instagram.
Tip: This brings up another interesting point. None of these Ps are set in stone. As you move along the process, you might find that you need to go back and change certain elements. That’s perfectly OK!
P #6: Place/Distribution
How are you making your product available to your customer?
For a company that’s selling physical goods, do you have a storefront? Are you able to ship directly to the customer? Can your shipping times compete with the giants like Amazon?
Is your product available in multiple locations, or do customers have to purchase it expressly from you?
If you’re a B2B company that offers a SaaS product, don’t think you’re off the hook for the 6th ‘P’! This is the step where it’s time to think about everything that’s involved in signing your customer up.
What kind of lead time is there between interest and conversion? How much onboarding is involved in setting your customer up with your software (demos, walkthroughs, specialized installation, etc.)?
Tip: This is the step where it’s crucial to think about convenience for your customer – if it’s difficult for them to acquire your product, they may seek an alternative.
P # 7: Partners/Strategic Alliances
Now, not every brand is going to be a Taco Bell or an Apple, but the lesson remains the same – customer value and customer relationships aren’t always created alone.
There may be other brands out there that are looking to grow their business, just like you are, who are willing to enter a mutually beneficial partnership that will allow you to both increase your audience size.
This is a strategy that typically works when brands have similar corporate philosophies – there’s a reason that Taco Bell partnered with Doritos and not Hermes, after all – but collaborating with another, similar brand can be an extremely powerful way of expanding your marketing reach.
P #8: Presentation
I would refer to this ‘P’ as storytelling, but for the sake of the motif, we’ll keep it as ‘presentation’.
This is your opportunity as a marketer to deliver every ‘P’ that you’ve pulled together thus far into a compelling narrative to share with your stakeholders, investors, purchasers, customers, and whoever else will listen.
Each element of your marketing mix was developed with careful thought, and the reasoning behind that is interesting – it’s part of what drives people to choose you over another option.
Think about what kind of emotions your brand elicits and present that through your marketing materials.
Everybody likes a story, this is your chance to deliver yours to the people who it would most resonate with.
P #9: Passion
This is the ‘P’ that’s really driving us all to be marketers – we’re passionate about our products, how they can help people, how we present our ideas and materials, and how can we come up with a plan to see it all come to fruition.
Believing in the product you’re marketing leads to a deeper understanding of the message you’re trying to get across, which makes us better marketers.
It also makes your job as a marketer more fun! Being excited about something and being able to convey that excitement adds a level of authenticity to your communication that’s infectious.
With the growing ubiquity of things like online reviews, it’s become extremely easy to determine if someone is being inauthentic in their marketing materials, and people just won’t respond to that any longer, which is why ‘passion’ has gone from a nicety to a necessity.
In other words, if you don’t believe in what you’re marketing, what are we even doing here?
Properly Planned Promotions Processes Prove Perfect Platform for Performance
No matter how you slice it, it’s imperative that you have a plan in place before you go ahead with your marketing campaigns.
It’s as much an art as it is a science, but it is a science, and as such needs real, trackable data that you can use to make informed decisions and changes in the future.
The 9 Ps marketing mix is one of the more detailed strategies that you can employ to ensure that you’ve aligned every part of your marketing appropriately to save yourself some headaches down the line, from a skeleton outline of your plan, right down to the platforms and methods you’ll use to distribute your messaging.
As I mentioned, everyone’s needs are different, and you may find that you need to omit a step here or there to replace it with something different, and that’s perfectly fine. As long as you have a plan of action in place, you’re ahead of the game, and can start to reap the benefits of a properly laid out marketing strategy.