Become a Marketer: The 4 Ps of Marketing Plus, Part 1
Throughout my volunteer service to the industry's association, many people have made comments about the demographics of our practitioners. When you look out over a promotional products trade show floor, you may be struck by the lack of diversity, by the balance of attendance by gender, and by the relative aging of the people in the industry. That is not to say that we have no young people. I'm excited about the crop of new, young energy entering our ranks and stepping up into leadership roles. But the fact remains that for the most part, a good number of us have celebrated at least one birthday where our more cruel friends have brought black balloons and "over the hill" pins.
I've always pointed out that for a large number of people, our industry was not their first career. Among our ranks you'll find retired military, parents returning to the workforce, former bankers, former teachers and former corporate ladder climbers. All of whom have discovered our wild, wacky, crazily creative, frighteningly frustrating, ultimately rewarding and addictive world of stuff! So for many of us, marketing may be a new discipline and advertising something we paid attention to only during one big football game per year. I think this is why my CAS-required courses, Advertising and Marketing Overview Parts 1 and 2, are so wildly popular (and being required also helps!).
In classic marketing curriculum, four critical elements are identified as being components of marketing:
Product: There must be a product or service for marketing to take place. We may take it for granted that our product is our ability to source products for our clients. What is it that you are offering? A product, service or offering must meet a need in the marketplace. How much time have you spent really digging into defining what need you are filling in the marketplace? What problem do you solve? Why are you the best solution to that problem? What pain do you take away for your clients? Why are you the best pain reliever? Find the Pain. Be the Aspirin (or Tylenol, or Advil, or Morphine)! If you can solve problems and take away pain, you have a viable product. If you can solve problems and take away pain for clients, they will never shop you, will be loyal to you and will view you as an indispensible member of their team.
Price: Every marketer must have a pricing strategy. For Wal-Mart, this strategy is lowest price, always. For Nordstrom, it is never discount except for two and only two sales per year. For credit card companies it may be 0% interest for the first year (and then 25% thereafter, lol). What is your pricing strategy? I contend that just as product sourcing is not a good product, the lowest price is not a good pricing strategy. Having the lowest price is a race to the bottom and a zero sum game. Zero sum game is a fancy business writer phrase meaning there are no winners. (Now if I can somehow work "paradigm" into this article, I'll have a MBA-speak bonus blog!). Define your pricing strategy understanding that it is not how much that you sell that matters. It's how much you can keep. Profit is the life blood of your business. But profit must be earned. You must be solving problems and adding value. See "product" above. Instead of a discount strategy where you reduce the perceived value of your offerings, you could try a value-added strategy. A value-added strategy always gives a little more—whether that more is service, product, measurement, publicity, or other support you can offer to solve problems and relieve pain.
Check back on March 1 for part two of "The 4 Ps of Marketing Plus" and the final two critical elements of marketing.