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Marketing instruments

Marketing is an area of activity without which it is virtually impossible to effectively sell goods and provide services. It is promotional and PR activities that are key to gaining a competitive advantage and gaining customer loyalty. And although the concept itself is very broad and includes many different types of activities, it is always based on the same pillars, i.e. marketing instruments. What are they actually?

Marketing instruments – classic concept

The most basic concept of marketing instruments, i.e. the marketing mix, was created several dozen years ago and basically ends with 4P. According to her, marketing consists of four basic elements, which are:
– product,
– price,
– special offer,
– distribution.

In opposition to this concept, Robert Lauterborn introduced his own, which he called 4C. It contains exactly the same elements as the classic 4P, however, instead of showing the entrepreneur’s point of view, it emphasizes the role of the customer. According to Lauterborn, such an approach to marketing is necessary, because only full focus on the recipient’s needs leads to success. In his theory, we distinguish elements such as:
– customer value,
– cost,
– convenience,
– communication.

Now let’s focus on explaining what the individual instruments refer to and how to understand them and – most importantly – use them in practice.

Product (customer value)
It does not necessarily have to be a tangible commodity sold to the customer. When we talk about a product, we mean the values that a specific thing or service brings to the recipient and the needs it satisfies. So, when we offer mechanical repair shop services, we are not merely communicating that the company provides inspection and replacement of broken parts. We focus on the fact that the use of professional service gives you safety, comfort, time saving, quality guarantee and so on. It must be remembered that dry information about the product does not arouse the desire to buy it yet. We need to make the recipient aware of what problems they can solve and what expectations they can meet. Only then do we gain the interest of potential customers.

Price (cost)
Price is an important element of marketing because it largely affects the other foundations of brand communication. Product prices can be selected based on various criteria, for example brand recognition, competition prices, production costs and financial capacity of the target group. However, it is important to maintain a consistent pricing policy within the brand. So if, by definition, our offer is widely available and intended for consumers with any budget, the prices should be very competitive. However, when we target a group of affluent customers who purchase only luxury products, too low a price will not only be of no help, but may even harm sales.

Promotion (communication)
When we have a product tailored to the needs of the target group, we must, however, communicate to the world that it is available and that it is worth buying it from us. This is what all promotional activities are used for: on the website, in Google Ads, social media, at the company’s headquarters, advertisements in the press, radio, television, on billboards, etc. This is where we can tell people about the benefits of the product and the needs it meets. Of course, we do not have to use all available promotion channels – it is worth conducting an analysis of the target group and advertising (free and paid) where the recipients spend the most time.

Distribution (place, convenience)
In short, these are the things that determine whether the purchase of a good / service will be convenient for the recipient. When it comes to a stationary store or service company (beauty salon, cafe, hotel, etc.), the location will be of key importance. The product must be close to the recipient, even at hand, so that reaching the company does not constitute an effort for the recipient. In the case of online businesses, the most important thing is the website through which the product can be purchased (its responsiveness, intuitive use, loading speed, etc.). In addition, convenience can also be provided in other ways – for example, by providing various payment or delivery methods.

Extended concept of marketing instruments

However, it quickly turned out that the concept of 4P or 4C is not enough to describe all the marketing factors on which the brand’s success depends. So it was decided to extend it with another 3P, and in the latest developments even with an additional 4P:
– people,
– process,
– physical evidence,
– pleasure.

This capacious slogan holds all people who are related to the sale / purchase of the product, i.e. the seller, the customer and other buyers. What’s this all about? First of all, even the best quality product will not be successful if there is no demand for it. Therefore, before introducing a product or service to the market, research is needed to determine the interest in the offer. However, the service associated with a given product is equally important. Whether in the case of stationary businesses or online stores, it is important that the seller is nice, competent, able to solve possible problems and meet the expectations of the recipient. Nowadays, it is the employees who largely build the brand image. On top of that, however, there is one more puzzle called other buyers. This means that no customer lives in a vacuum, they are surrounded by other brand fans with whom they can connect and share their impressions. These days, social media groups that bring together clients and companies, thanks to which you can build an engaged community around the brand, are no longer a rarity.

We are talking about the entire process of contact with the customer, also after the purchase of a product or service, i.e. researching the level of consumer satisfaction, after-sales care, the ability to sell products, improving the offer based on customer feedback, etc. We can do a great thing or service which, however, will not be as useful for customers as it initially seemed. Therefore, the key is to constantly improve the products to better meet the needs of the recipient. That’s why we call it a process.

Physical evidence
Contrary to the name, they do not necessarily have to be tangible things, although we also include them among them. These are all the elements thanks to which the potential customer forms an opinion about the quality of the service / product. This includes, for example, the visual identity of the brand: logo, website, leaflets, promotional materials. Evidence of the high quality of the services provided are also less obvious things, such as the appearance of the company’s headquarters or its equipment.

The pleasure category includes all the features of a specific product or service that are not strictly related to usability, but are simply a pleasant bonus for the customer. For example, chairs in a restaurant do not affect the quality of a meal, its taste or nutritional value, but if they are comfortable and adjusted to the height of the table, they increase the joy of consumption. The same function can also be performed by, for example, a fragrance in cosmetics or air conditioning in a car.

Marketing instruments in a marketing strategy

Marketing instruments are not the same as tools and do not provide specific ways to promote your brand. However, they are like blocks that can be arranged in any way, creating a strategy with which we will sell a product or service. Understanding their essence and delving into the consumer’s needs is a necessary condition to build a competitive advantage.

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