The 4 Ps of Marketing as Part of your Internet Marketing Plan

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.

If you’ve studied marketing in the 40+ years since E. Jerome McCarthy originally wrote his classic Basic Marketing, then you’re familiar with the “4 Ps of Marketing.” It’s a neat and memorable classification system of the various controllable elements of the marketing program portion of your internet marketing plan. Here they are, focused on a particular target market or customer.

Product Individual goods, product lines, or services Includes features, accessories, installation, instructions, service, warranty, packaging, and brand names.
Getting the product to the customer. Channels, distribution systems, middlemen, warehousing, transportation, fulfillment, and shipping.
Promotion Communicating with the customer Personal selling, mass selling, sales promotion, sales personnel, advertising, media selection, copywriting.
Price Setting a price that serves the customer well and maximizes profits to the company. Price flexibility, level pricing, introductory pricing, discounts, allowances, geographic terms.

If you remember, your Internet Marketing Plan takes considerable pains to understand and characterize the market, the customer, and the environment in which you are doing business. The 4 Ps are a different part of the plan. One way to look at this is uncontrollable factors vs. controllable factors.

  • Uncontrollable. The current economic environment includes elements such as consumer confidence, degree of unemployment, new technologies that threaten to displace your own, competitors that suddenly appear on the horizon, government regulations thought up by your favorite legislator, and changing consumer preferences. You can’t control these.
  • Controllable. The 4 Ps represent elements of your marketing strategy that you can control. They depend upon such “givens” as your budget, personnel, creativity, etc., but you can do a lot to influence them.

As you write the Marketing Program section of your Internet Marketing Plan you’ll need to include a section for each of the 4 Ps that define your current marketing program. These are the four major ingredients of a traditional marketing mix directed at the customer or target market.

But are the 4 Ps really applicable to Internet marketing? The short answer is yes, with a few modifications. The long answer is an attempt to apply them to the typical situations faced by web marketers today. Businesses vary so much that I can’t be exhaustive as we examine each, but only suggestive.

    • P1 — Product Strategy
    • P2 — Place (Distribution) Strategy
    • P3 — Promotion Strategy (coming up)
    • P4 — Price Strategy (coming up)
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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