Every great marketing strategy rests on four basic pillars: the 4 Ps. Often referred to as the “marketing mix”, these pillars help businesses reach their target audience, increase awareness of their brand and drive sales. 

If you’re tasked with creating or improving a marketing strategy, the 4 Ps framework is an essential tool in your toolbox. Whether you’re doing marketing for a small business or a large corporation, the fundamental principles are the same. Keep them in mind with every decision you make, and they’ll steer you in the right direction. 

The Origins of the 4 Ps of Marketing

The 4 Ps framework has been around for decades. 

In 1948, Harvard University Professor James Culliton published a paper in which he referred to marketers as “mixers of ingredients”. Inspired by this analogy, his colleague Neil Borden coined the term “marketing mix”—the idea that a successful marketing strategy involves different components and areas of focus. 

E. Jerome McCarthy, a marketing professor at Michigan State University, developed this idea further and proposed that the most important components of the marketing mix are product, price, place and promotion. He introduced the term “4 Ps of marketing” in his 1960 book Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach

Decoding the Marketing Mix: Exploring the 4 Ps

The 4 Ps have stood the test of time and are just as relevant today as when they were first introduced. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail. 

1. Product

This is what you’re selling. It may be a physical product, digital offer, service or experience. 

Before you can market it, you need to fully understand your product. Start by answering the following questions:

  • What is it? What does it do, or what does it involve?
  • Who needs it? Who is your target audience?
  • Why do they need it? Does it fulfill a need or a want? Does it solve a problem? 
  • Are there similar products already out there? What makes yours different or better?

These answers will help you understand why someone would want to buy your product or, in other words, what you need to focus on when marketing it. 

Example: If you’re selling a tennis racket, you’d need to consider whether it’s suitable for casual or more advanced players. You’d also think about what problem it would solve for them—maybe it’s designed to generate more power or optimized for better control. And why should someone choose your racket over another option with similar features? 

2. Price

This is what you’re asking people to pay in exchange for your product. The key here is to find an amount that would entice your target audience to make a purchase, while also allowing you to meet your ideal profit margin. Keep in mind that an “enticing” price isn’t necessarily the lowest one. Many consumers equate price with quality, so they often gravitate towards more expensive options. 

When pricing a product, consider the following:

  • How much it costs you to manufacture and sell the product
  • Your desired profit margin
  • Your target audience and how much they’d be willing to pay for your product
  • Your product’s perceived value—how much customers think it’s worth 
  • Your competitors’ price

You can also include discounts and offers as part of your pricing strategy. The original price can drive up the product’s perceived value, and the discounted price can draw in customers looking for a deal. 

Example: Advanced tennis players typically pay $200-400 for a high-quality racket, while casual players can purchase a decent one for about $50-100. If you make a $300 racket and market it to people who are just trying out tennis, they’ll find it far too expensive. On the other hand, if you try to sell a $70 racket to seasoned players, they might question its quality and performance. 

3. Place

This is where you sell and promote your product. 

Consider where your target audience shops and spends their time. In other words, where are they most likely to come across your product or marketing efforts? Instead of waiting for them to find you, you can take your product or promotion right to them. 

Examples of where you can sell your product:

  • Brick-and-mortar store
  • Online store
  • Department stores and other retailers
  • Events, fairs and markets

Examples of where you can promote your product:

  • Physical posters in locations that your potential customers visit often
  • Social media
  • Print, TV, radio and digital advertising 

Example: If your product is a beginner racket for casual players, they may look for it at a sporting goods store or even a big box store like Walmart. On the other hand, if you’re selling a racket for advanced players, your best bet would be to distribute it through retailers that specialize in tennis gear. In terms of promotion, you could display ads about your racket inside tennis clubs or set up a booth at your local tournaments.

4. Promotion

This is how you let your target audience know about your product. 

In the “product” section, we went over all the details you should know about your product, such as what problem it solves and what makes it better than other options. Now, it’s time to communicate these to your target audience and entice them to make a purchase. 

We’ve already touched on a few promotional tactics in the “place” section, since place and promotion often go hand in hand. Below are a few other ideas:

  • Public relations
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Partnerships with other brands
  • Sponsorships

Example: To promote your tennis racket, you could partner with content creators who post educational videos about tennis or review tennis gear. If you have a bigger budget, you could run TV ads in the middle of televised tennis tournaments. 

How to Use the Marketing 4 Ps 

A successful marketing strategy communicates the right message to the right people at the right time and in the right place. The 4 Ps can help you achieve just that. 

It’s important to remember that the 4 Ps aren’t meant to be used in isolation. True to Culliton’s original “marketing mix” analogy, they’re just ingredients in your marketing recipe, but once you start mixing them, it’s perfectly normal for them to blend together and overlap. 

For example, information about your product can dictate its price, where you place it and how you promote it. At the same time, your promotional efforts can include specific places or adjustments in price.

The 4 Ps are a dynamic framework, and your target audience should be at the center of it. Any decisions you make about your product, how to price it, where to sell it and how to promote it should be driven by who your potential customers are and what they want. What problem do they have, how much are they willing to pay for a solution, where do they expect to find this solution and what promotional tactics or messages would resonate with them? 

Keeping your target audience in mind as you work with the 4 Ps framework will help you optimize your marketing strategy and set yourself up for success. 

Beyond the Basics: Exploring the 7 Ps

Over the years, marketers have identified three additional components of the marketing mix: people, process and physical evidence. Together with the original 4 Ps, they make up the 7 Ps, which is a framework more commonly used today. 


This refers to staff members who interact with customers or people who represent the product or business in some way. For example, Apple is known for its exceptional customer service, so for many repeat customers, that’s part of why they choose to shop there. 


This is what’s involved in getting the product to the customer, and it’s especially important in the era of online shopping. People value fast, convenient shipping and no-hassle returns. Companies that can offer this (like Amazon, for example) frequently use it to attract customers. 

Physical Evidence 

This includes all the ways in which potential customers physically experience your product and your brand. Your brand imagery, packaging, how you display products in the store and the design of your website are all examples of physical evidence. Whether or not they consciously realize it, people take things like this into consideration when deciding to purchase from you. 

Create Powerful Marketing Campaigns

The 4 Ps (or 7 Ps) are just one of the many tools you can use to elevate your marketing strategy and grow your business. If you’re an entrepreneur and you don’t have much experience promoting a product or service, be sure to familiarize yourself with other marketing fundamentals. It may require a bit of trial and error, but you’ll eventually find what works for your business and helps you connect with your target audience. 

Written By

Sayana Lam

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