What Are the Elements of Marketing Mix?

How to use them to market and build your home business

Small businessman looking at marketing graphs on a computer monitor in his home office.
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For many home business owners, providing a product or service is fairly easy. The challenge is in getting people to pay for it. Marketing seems like a straightforward concept; tell others about the product or service. But in fact, you can waste a great deal of time and money trying to promote your home business. Effective, efficient marketing requires an understanding of several key concepts, and how to best use them to reach your target market. These concepts are part of the marketing mix.

Your marketing mix is the combination of elements that play a role in promoting and delivering your products and services to consumers or clients. In essence, it's about putting your product or service in the right place at the right time for the right price.

Elements of the Marketing Mix

Traditionally, the elements of the marketing mix referred to the 4 P's of marketing, although recently, a 5th P has been added. The original 4 P's of marketing are:

  • Product: These are the products or services you offer to your customers, including their physical attributes, what they do, how they differ from your competitors, and what benefits they provide.
  • Price: How have you priced your product or service so that your price remains competitive but allows you to make a good profit.
  • Place (Also referred to as Distribution): This is where your business sells its products or services and how it gets those products or services to your customers.
  • Promotion: These are the methods you use to communicate the features and benefits of your products or services to your target customers.

Some marketing theorists have added a 5th P of marketing to the elements of the marketing mix: People, which refers to how your level of service and the expertise and skills of the people who work for you can be used to set you apart from your competitors.

Using the Marketing Mix to Build Your Home Business

Similar to SWOT analysis and business plan writing, marketing mix can often feel like an abstract business concept that is difficult to convert to everyday use. What the 5 Ps encourage you to do is research and plan your marketing strategy. Going through each P you want to:

Product

Beyond defining what you've got, you want to pay special attention to the benefits your product or service offers, and who are the best consumers to gain those benefits. This means developing a unique selling proposition (USP) and defining your target market. For example, if you sell weight-loss services, what benefits (better health, more energy, etc) will your customers gain and who are the ideal people to want these services (new moms, middle-age people, etc).

Price

Pricing can be tricky because you need to calculate the value of what you offer along with what it costs you in materials, time, and overhead to produce it. But you also want to think about what your market is willing and able to pay, and whether or not they think your product is worth what you're charging. You don't want to undercharge, but neither do you want to ask people to pay more than what your product or service is worth. 

Place

Where can consumers find and receive your goods and services? This seems very basic, except again, you have to consider your product or service, market, and price. If your market doesn't use eBay, then it wouldn't make sense to have your products on eBay. If your products are luxury items, you want to be in a place that suggests quality and refinement, as opposed to frugality. 

Promotion

This is where you put all the information you've gathered to work. You know your product, who can benefit from it, the best price to sell it at, and where to sell it. Now, you have to get people to your "store." Promotion is all about knowing where your market can be found, how to craft a message to entice them to check out your product or service and determine the best method for delivering that message (i.e. advertising, social media, interviews, etc). The most effective marketing is focused on message and location. For example, if you're selling weight loss products and your market is new moms, you'd want to have a message that talks specifically about losing baby weight and put it where moms will see it (i.e. mom blogs). 

People

You can have all the other P's locked up, but if you or your salespeople are rude, or your customer service systems fall short, it won't matter how good the other Ps are. Today more than ever, consumers have a choice about who they do business with, and they prefer businesses that know their stuff, are willing to help, and are responsive. This is where social media is so helpful because it makes it easier for businesses to build trust and rapport with consumers. But it only works if you and your staff or contractors are polite, professional, and responsive.