The marketing mix part one: Product

Today begins a new series of posts dedicated to the marketing mix. First coined in 1953 by Neil Borden (Harvard Business School) the marketing mix refers to all of the elements needed to make up the entirety of a product or service offering. Somewhat pleasingly, the marketer in this instance becomes the mixologist.

A few years later, Jerome McCarthy ( Michigan State University, 1960) distilled the mix into the 4 Ps. The first of which is Product, and that's where we'll start.

Any real marketer will tell you that this is the place to begin any discussion about marketing. Not with fancy PR stunts. Not with expensive ad campaigns (definitely not there). And not with websites.

The product is everything.

When we talk about product we mean everything associated with the product: the raw materials, the supply chain, the intrinsic value and the packaging. And the same rules apply to services. Perhaps there's not much of a supply chain and for raw material think 'my time' but you get the picture. Unless you have a firm grasp of all of these elements, it's really not worth talking about anything else.

It could be anything. A hairbrush, a ping pong ball or an iPhone.

While working with client on this recently, we decided to classify the product (which, at its base level, was the same thing) based on the customer who would buy the product. In order to do this we had to think about two things:

  1. What raw materials are used to make the product?
  2. What processes are used to make the product?

In each case we were able to distinguish a difference for the purpose of classifying the product as basic, premium or bespoke. This in turn had an impact on the price (more of that next week).

But the key was that we started by thinking about the customer: who are they? What is it that they want to buy?

Any conversation about marketing has to begin with the customer and you can think about the 4 Ps through the same perspective. What is the product they want to buy? How much will they expect to pay? Where would they expect to be able to buy it? And how will they find out about it? All these questions have to be answered in order to have a complete product to take to market.

So. let's go ahead and look at your product or service. Grab a pen and paper and start by writing down the answers to the following questions.

  • What is your product or service? Describe it in as much detail as you can.
  • What is it made from? Is there any issue with getting the raw materials? What about your supply chain?
  • What manufacturing processes do you use?
  • What is the lifecycle of your product? Is it recyclable or re-usable?
  • What intrinsic value does your product have? If it is a component, what value does it add to the whole? What value would your customers attach to it?
  • How will you package it? How will it be branded?
  • What about the service you will offer? Guarantees and so on.

If you've done this small exercise, feel pleased. You'd be amazed at how many people engaged with marketing a product haven't really thought that hard about it.

Next week, Price.