At some point, we’ve all come across the four Ps of marketing (place, price, product and promotion) and how, taken together, they can shape your marketing mix. Marketers of the past have used the four Ps when creating marketing plans. Today, however, with more customer touchpoints than we all would like to admit, even the revered and time-tested marketing mix has to face the harsh truth of digital transformation.
The old mix just isn’t relevant or all encompassing enough in our “always-on” world. Most organizations within the AV industry are struggling to keep up and not be so reactive.
Like most everything in marketing, the old has been replaced by the new. No longer are four Ps sufficient; instead, having an understanding of the new seven Ps gives you a better snapshot of your outputs and allows you to navigate the waters of competition and differentiation. Plus, it helps you approach the overall customer journey much more fluidly.
The following list might look overwhelming for most businesses, but, the reality is, with some strategic planning, an inspired staff and leadership willing to lead, you should be able to apply the seven Ps effectively.
This is a tangible good (or an intangible service) that fulfills a need or a want that consumers have. If you manufacture screens, this is your product. A design agency? Your creative and final deliverable equate to the product.
Once a concrete understanding of the product is established, we can start to make some pricing decisions. Price determinations will affect profit margins, supply and demand, and marketing strategy. By the way, if you’re an AV provider in a rural part of the state and you only service local customers, you shouldn’t charge big-city prices. You don’t want to undercharge, but you mustn’t overcharge.
We have a product and a price, so, now, it’s time to market and promote your offering. Promotion looks at the many ways to market (either in house or with an agency); disseminates relevant product information to consumers; and differentiates products or services from the competition. Each touchpoint must be supported by a well-positioned brand to achieve maximal return on investment (ROI).
When looking at your promotion, remember something that I’ve written in previous columns: It’s paramount that you understand your audience and meet them on their terms. If your audience is always at Digital Signage Expo (DSE) and InfoComm, make sure you attend those shows. If your audience is on Facebook, make sure you target them with hyper-relevant content.
When you understand your audience and its members’ wants and needs—this is one of the core tenets of building a scalable brand—you can create promotional campaigns that speak directly to them and resonate. For an effective promotional strategy, it’s essential that you adapt to your audience members’ persona, their personal attributes and where they are in your sales funnel.
The following elements can play a role in the process:
- Owned media: website content, blog content, podcasts and social media. Essentially, these are web properties and content streams that you own.
- Earned media: shares, mentions, reviews and testimonials. Essentially, this is online word-of-mouth.
- Paid media: advertising, pay-per-click (PPC), AdWords, social ad buying and paid influencers. Essentially, this is marketing or media in a “pay-to-play” environment.
It should be understood that each touchpoint and each type of media must be supported by a well-positioned brand to maximize ROI. Without a clear, coherent, concrete brand foundation, your marketing and promotions will fall flat. You’ll curse yourself for the time, energy, resources and money wasted trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
Often, you’ll hear marketers say that marketing is about introducing the right product, to the right place, at the right price, at the right time. It’s critical, then, to evaluate the ideal locations to convert potential clients to actual clients. Today, even in cases in which the actual transaction doesn’t happen on the web, you initially engage and convert a potential client online. Bearing that in mind, double check that you’re attending the right events, ensure you’re sending emails to the right people and always make sure you have at least one online funnel set up.
More than likely, other people are involved in helping you create and deliver your product or service. Who are these people? They’re your sales staff, your managers, your service technicians and your field staff. No matter the industry—but especially in AV—they’re one of your biggest marketing assets. They’re the people on the other end of a customer-service call, and they’re the first ones to respond to a sales inquiry. Without them, your business would likely cease to exist.
Therefore, it’s essential to make sure your staff members’ level of professional training matches the brand promise you make to your audience. A good exercise is to ask yourself these questions: Do the company’s CEO and its janitor have the same brand pride? Do they share the same corporate values and ethos?
6. Physical Evidence
Almost all business transactions include some physical elements, even if the bulk of what your customer pays for is intangible. For example, a design agency would provide its client with a content-strategy PDF and video files; likewise, an AV integrator would give its client some form of physical hardware/software integration. As always, it all comes down to branding. Be cognizant of every opportunity you have to create a positive brand touchpoint, as each one is an opportunity to build trust with your audience.
In the AV world, even setting aside physical integrations, there are countless forms of physical evidence: swag and trade-show promotional items, digital content graphics, even the invoices you send. Everything must be consistent, and it must be on-brand.
In the AV industry, delivery of your product or service is usually done with the customer present. So, how the service is delivered is one of the things for which the customer is paying. Is the experience a positive or a negative one?
This issue is especially germane as regards third-party services. How can you ensure the same level of experience is being delivered across your partners and vendors? It starts with having the right documentation and only aligning with those who share your brand strategy. It also comes down to living out your brand’s purpose and culture.
Marketing shouldn’t be difficult or difficult to understand. With the right brand foundation and marketing mix, as well as a trust in the process, you should be able to navigate your organization through choppy waters.
“This post originally appeared in Sound & Communications Magazine 2020″.