A well-known business marketing and sales strategy is to work around the 4 Ps Marketing Mix. The four Ps are as follows
Although, a lot has happened in the business world, this basic marketing principle still stands and have relevance.
Products/Services To Offer
Every business, whether it’s a big corporation, a Medium Enterprise, small business or individual free-lance service, exist to sell products or provide a service to customers. Therefore, it is important for the organization to decide what is it that it wants to sell or provide and for whom. The customer. Every individual within the organization must know and aware of it’s core business products and services. This glues the activities together. From the Board Members down to the front office desk staff need to know why the business exist and their market segment in their specific industry. Failure to creating this awareness can create wastage of resources and time on things that may look important but bring in little or no value at all to the organization. All marketing and sales activities must be dedicated by this awareness the business core business and services.
Pricing of Products and Services
Pricing of goods and services is often said from an economic analysis where it is based on Demand and Supply Principle. High demand increases price and low demand decreases price. However, in reality the demand and supply principle of economics is not 100% in play. There are lots of factors that affect price. Cost of production, cost of imports, taxes and whole lot of others. In the case of Papua New Guinea, lots of input materials used by businesses are mainly imported from other countries. Because of these factors, pricing has to be right so that organizations can make profit. Even in unfavorable economic conditions, pricing has to be right to at least make it to the break-even point, which means enough to meet its expenses until situation improves.
Place or Location
Once the products and pricing is sorted out, then next thing is to find the location to trade. Based on the results of their market research or customer base, most organizations will open their presence in locations where they can best serve their target customers.
Then finally, business have to communicate their products and services and their locations to the actual customers using various communication mediums such as TV, Radio, Newspapers, Social Media and etc.
Customer’s Perspective of The 4 Ps of Marketing Mix.
The customer on the other hand has a completely different view than the business’s view of the 4 Ps. The customer’s perception of the four Ps are as follows
Customer’s View Products and Services
To the customer, products and services are there to solve their problem. This is where the idea of value comes into play. The customer is interested to buy a product or service that can resolve their problems at a lower cost. The reason why customers seek a product or service is because of a need they have or problem they needed to fix. For example, people buy food items because they are either hungry or to feed their family at home. Because of this view, they will always compare products and services to figure out what suits their specific needs.
Customer’s View on Pricing
When it comes to pricing, customers think of it in terms of cost/expense. Customers often have a rough idea of how much they are willing to pay to get the products and services they want. In unfavorable economic conditions, the principle of demand and supply plays out but customers are sensitive to price changes. If supply is low and price is up, most customers will decrease their spending until the situation improves and in turn results in shrink of economic activities. Particularly when business customers decrease their spending. This has ripple effects on family incomes and revenues of small businesses.
Customers View on Location/Place of Doing Business.
To the customer, they want to do business in an environment that is convenient for them. They want convenience. Somewhere where easy in terms of access, cost and reliability. For organizations that are doing on business to business (B2B) level, what happens on the supply chain can greatly affect them. Convenience is also important for consumers as well at the B2C (Business to Consumer) level. For example, the retail stores.
Customer’s view on Promotion
What the customer is interested is the message, not the medium of communication. What exactly it is that the promotion is communicating? Customers are familiar with deceptive marketing campaigns. So they always have a skeptical mind. They want to about actual product application areas. Where it comes from, who produces it, where it is sourced from, ethical production methods, real experiences from users and etc. For services, they want hear about solutions provided to other customers that are similar to them in their needs. They want hear their success stories.
How Does ICT Fits into the 4 Ps of Marketing Mix?
Create Digital Footprints of Products and Services.
In past the Brick & Mortar business (physical location of the business) is where information about the products and services as well as the actual products resided. This simply meant, customer who is looking for services or products will make it their business to go to town and locate the business, ask questions and get served.
Today in the age of Interne and internet enable mobile devices like the smartphone and laptops, customers want to know about the products and services prior to visiting the location. They want to know whether it’s worth the cost of going to the physical location. Therefore, more and more businesses are creating websites, online shops, and social media pages to create their businesses digital footprint on the internet which can potentially lead a customer to the physical location. Business that are not creating their digital footprints on internet are doing it to their disadvantage. Online presence of the business (eg website, social media page) etc are equally important as the physical store.
Internet has Put the Customer at a More Advantage Point on Price Comparison
Gone are the days when customers will go and ask a sales person to do the invoice while they wait at the counter. Or make phone calls to ask for specific pricing of different services and products. Internet has makes it so easy for customer to compare prices among alternative providers. With the use of emails, electronic brochures and websites, lots of organizations are putting their pricing online. Before customers engage with a business, they have already compared the prices from several vendors. Shortlist the one they want to speak to or visit and then make their final choice from those on the shortlist.
Internet has cut the barriers of Time and Geography.
Trading through physical location is bound by time and location. This has disadvantages for both business organizations and customers. To the business owners, finding a location within what Real Estate Agents often referred to as Prime Location means more rental expenses. In major towns in Papua New Guinea, finding a location within a central location in town is quiet expensive. Particularly for small businesses. In addition, business hours is often limited from 8:00-4:00 pm.
For the customer, the inconvenience of going from place to place to do price comparison and trying to find the services or products that suits them.
The internet has given both the customer and business owners the ability to communicate and do business outside of the physical location and business operating hours. Through the use of internet enabled communications such as emails, social media pages, websites and etc business activities can occur 24/7 and location independent. Example, small business can operate from home space and cut the cost of rental fees of doing business within town areas.
Promotion of products and services.
With the population that is connected to the internet and social media platforms like Facebook, business have much wider options to promote their products and services than relying on traditional promotion media such as newspapers, radio and TVs.
Digital promotion materials can be distributed to various distribution channels such as social media posts, email, posted on websites, videos uploaded to YouTube. Use of these digital channels reduces the cost of promotion and meets customers that the convince
Small business owners in PNG need to have Digital Business Skills as well as Financial Literacy to run their business in a digitally connected business environment. Internet and clouding computing services are shaping up small businesses in many profound ways and it is up the individual owners small businesses in PNG to accept this reality and adapt to it.