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September 22, 2014

The 4 ‘Ps’ of Marketing (And One to Grow On)

DSC_0091The 4 “Ps” of Marketing concept was first developed, in 1960, by marketer and Michigan State University professor E. Jerome McCarthy. This idea of a marketing mix that encompasses product, price, place, and promotion has been used by marketers throughout the world since.

The standard definition of marketing is to put the right product in the right place at the right price at the right time. While that may sound simple enough, determining and coordinating all of those things, along with the necessary promotions to draw in potential customers, is a complex process.


Does what you’re selling satisfy a customer need? Is it in demand? Is it a seasonal item with a defined window where sales will succeed? No matter what you’re selling, make sure your staff is up to speed on product features and benefits. Most importantly, stock what your customers need and want, not what you think they should have.


Is the price of any item you sell high enough to allow an acceptable margin? Is the price of any item so low that it classifies you as a discount store? (Your pricing philosophy needs to match the image of your store.) Is the price of any item priced far out of line with the same product at your competitors? Do you have enough flexibility at that price point to do markdowns and maintain a reasonable margin?


You can’t do much about where your store is located, but where you place available products inside your store and how you merchandise them within those confines are certainly in your control. Are products in a visible, high-traffic, well-lit area with the merchandise clearly marked and identified with signage? Is your inventory easily accessible and identifiable on your website?


How are you going to reach your target audience to let them know about products that should interest them? If a product is one that needs a lot of explanation and sales copy, then newspapers, magazines, direct mail, email blasts, and websites are good promotional venues. If a product needs to be seen to be appreciated and sold, then magazine ads, television commercials, and Internet ads are options. If it can be verbally explained, radio and social media platforms are good choices. When looking at different media, be objective and focus on what your customers read, watch, text, tweet, or listen to.

The Fifth “P”

Unfortunately, the majority of sales are made to customers who just walk up to the cash register with the item in hand and buy it. It shouldn’t be that way.

There are two parts to the fifth “P,” which stands for “people.” On one side are the people on the selling end of things, you and your staff. Successful retailers know good sales associates are a necessity, not a luxury. Educated, trained, professional, enthusiastic, and sincere sales associates differentiate you from your competition, help to build loyal customers, and increase your bottom line.

The second half of the people “P” are the customers. When thinking about your store and what you offer for sale, ask yourself “Why?” and “What if?” questions in line with what your customers need and want. Why do customers want this product versus a similar and similarly priced one? What if you reduce the selling price by five to 10 percent? Would that encourage your customers to buy more and, if so, how would that affect total sales, turns, and margins? What if you expanded the breadth of a product line, how would your customers react?

Regardless how you address each of the four original Ps (and sometimes the fifth), they all have to be looked at in light of what your competition is doing. If your competition is marketing a certain way, go in a different direction or utilize other media. If other stores are selling an item you also carry, but at a reduced price point, try to bundle a package to increase margins. Concentrate on your strengths, capitalize on their weaknesses, and zig when they zag.


You may also be interested in: Co-op Advertising — Dollars for the Asking


About the Author
William F. Kendy is a well-known firearms industry writer, speaker and marketing, advertising, sales and customer service consultant. He has written for SHOT Business, Range Report, Shooting Sports Retailer, Fishing Tackle Retailer, Advertising Age, among other publications.  He also works closely with the NSSF on presentations at SHOT Show University and SHOT Show Retail Seminars, and he’s also hosted a number of videos and webinars on the NSSF website.

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