The 4 Ps of Marketing vs. the Marketing Mix – What You Could Be Doing Wrong.

By Ted McDermott, Vice President, MAI

The marketing mix and the “4 Ps of Marketing” are often used as interchangeable words that are synonyms, when in fact, depending on the product or service offered, they are not necessarily the same thing.

The marketing mix is a general phrase used to describe the different variables or combination of marketing elements used in selling products. The 4 Ps are the most well known combination that defines the marketing mix and includes Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

When putting together a marketing mix, many companies quickly establish their 4 Ps without really examining and developing the components for a long-lasting and successful marketing mix.  Here are some questions to ask yourself when developing the “4 Ps of Marketing” so you can establish a balanced and successful marketing mix.


People buy benefits. In order to distinguish these benefits, the product/service has to have the right features, which will align to appropriate benefits to the customer. :

  • What does the consumer want/gain from the product/service?  Does it satisfy a need for the consumer?
  • What features does the product have to meet the customer’s needs?
  • Now that you have determined the product’s features – translate these features into benefits to the customer.


The price of an item is clearly an important determinant of the perceived value of a product or service.  Additionally, price is really determined by the discovery of this perceived value, so consider these questions when determining your price:

  • What is the perceived value of the product or service to the buyers?
  • How much will they be willing to pay for it?
  • Are there products that are similar to yours? What are those price points?
  • Is the customer going to be price sensitive? If you decrease the price, will you win extra market share? Will the customer notice a small increase?


Getting the right product to the right place at the right time involves a distribution system. The choice of distribution method will depend on a variety of circumstances:

  • Where will buyers look for your type of product or service? If you will sell it in a store, what kind? Online, direct, specialty?
  • How can you access the right distribution channels?
  • Observe what your competitors are doing, how can you learn from them, or use your observations to stand out from them?


Promotion is the business of communication with customers. It will provide information that will assist them, and persuade them, in making a decision to purchase your product or service. When developing this important variable, consider:

  • Where is the best place to get your messaging across to your target market? Advertising in industry magazines, websites, or supplements? Direct mail?
  • When is the best time to get this message across? Is there a seasonal aspect?

The 4 Ps is just one of many combinations that can be used to make up your whole marketing mix, but using these guidelines, you will be able to create a well-balanced, successful marketing mix using the 4 Ps of Marketing.

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