What is a Marketing Mix?

Kathy R

Most business school graduates are familiar with the term marketing mix. It refers to the different tools a company uses to effectively promote its business in the marketplace. These are often separated into what is known as the four P's of marketing: product, price, placement and promotion.

Today, the Internet is a market for product promotion, and online campaigns can be fairly inexpensive yet effective.
Today, the Internet is a market for product promotion, and online campaigns can be fairly inexpensive yet effective.

Product refers to the actual, physical item that a company is trying to sell to the consumer. Marketers usually do not focus on product development as much as product presentation. Therefore, the marketing mix in this stage should consist of the name of the product, its packaging and how it will be differentiated from similar products in the store.

Price is how much the company will charge consumers for the product. Typically, a lot of thought goes into pricing because setting a price too high can result in few sales. There are also dangers in setting a price too low, since such a price may make potential customers think the product lacks quality. Marketers use this knowledge to help determine price so that profit is made from the product. The marketing mix may also include special pricing incentives, like coupons.

Promotion is how the company spreads the word about a product. It involves working with stores to distribute samples, holding public relations events, and buying advertising — in the print media, the broadcast media or both. The role promotion plays in the marketing mix depends on how much the company wants to publicize the product and how much money it has set aside to do so. Today, the Internet is also a market for product promotion, and online campaigns can be fairly inexpensive yet effective.

Placement is the art of putting the product in the right place at the right time. Proper placement is important, so that the consumer will see the product and want to have it. This is part of the marketing mix because marketers must attract retailers and get high-profile space in those stores, if they want their products to sell well. Placement can also involve determining, and reaching, a specific target audience. For example, a company that sells paint may set up a sales booth at a home improvement show in order to reach people wishing to learn about and buy paint.

The marketing mix is unique to each product or company. It often depends on the goals the organization would like to accomplish. This can range from selling as much product as possible to cultivating a reputation for making high-quality products.

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Another important aspect of the promotional marketing mix is direct marketing. Direct marketing can be anything from telemarketing to web casts to follow up communications. These communications can be in the form of mail, email, telephone, and face-to-face communications.

For example, sending a targeted promotional email to a high frequency customer who hasn't placed an order in a while is a good way to maintain customer relations. It also makes that customer feel special because the message is individualized, and it can be tailored to products they purchase often. These promotions are also easy to execute by simply analyzing data collected by a businesses computer systems.

A real life scenario where something like this may work is an acupuncturist sending a return customer a 50% off treatment coupon if they haven't had a treatment in over a month. In another scenario, a spa might send a client a buy one get one half off coupon to the top 20% of customers for mothers day. Customized marketing messages can be very effective.


Online campaigns can be very effective and inexpensive, but they also have their risks. The danger of online marketing is that it is hard to control the message once it is released and it is next to impossible to remove a message gone wrong from cyber space. Once the message is on the web, it is there and can haunt a business for a long time. Getting rid of these messages is not as simple as pulling the plug on a television campaign.

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