Marketing Mix and its Role in Shaping Marketing Strategy

Ask any marketer about Marketing Mix and you are likely to get a mysterious response: "The Four Ps". These are four variables that marketers rely on to build a marketing program: Product, Pricing, Promotion, and Place (distribution). Overall principles that guide the choices of the variables constitute your marketing strategy.


There are two traditional approaches to creating a marketing strategy: STP and ARA.

STP stands for segmentation, targeting and positioning. It is particularly popular with branding agencies. You start with identifying groups of customers with similar needs in the market (segmentation), select specific groups for  your campaign (targeting) and then create ads that help to communicate the necessary perception of the brand in the minds of consumers (positioning). 

This approach aligns very well with the concept of the Four Ps. Once the process of segmentation is complete, different variations of the product could be offered to different segments at different price levels. Promotion and distribution decisions are easier to make when you know the preferences, behaviors and current perceptions of your chosen customer segments.

Marketing Mix Elements Sub-elements
Product Product design
Product positioning
Product branding
Breadth and depth of product line
Customer service
Product warranty
Price Manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer pricing
Bidding tactics
Skim pricing vs Penetrating pricing
Promotion Advertising (online, offline)
Content marketing
Social media marketing
Search engine optimization

Sales force policies
Direct marketing
Public relations
Price promotions - consumer
Price promotions - trade
Event marketing
Place Direct and indirect channels
Channel length
Exclusive, selective or intensive
Franchising policies
Channel coordination and control

ARA stands for acquisition, retention and add-on selling. This approach focuses on maximizing profitability in the process of obtaining, keeping and nurturing your customers. Different marketing tactics are used for customers in different stages in the life cycle: prospects, first-time buyers, early repeat buyers, core customers, and defectors require different marketing efforts.

Prospects First-time buyers Early Repeat Buyers Core Customers Defectors
Advertising Awareness Reinforcement Reinforcement Personal Apology
Sales Force Closers Personal Service Personal Service Personal Service Closers, personal service
Pricing Low Moderate Increasing Higher Higher
Promotions Trial Similar to trial Limited Reward Apology
Lead Second lead Add-on Add-on Broad
Customer Service Limited Problem-focused Problem-focused Personal Attention Problem-focused

In a nutshell, marketing mix frameworks help to guide our thinking in terms of both marketing strategy and tactics. They are also a great starting point for a strategy brainstorming session.