Traditional marketing has been completely shaken up, revitalized and altogether transformed due to the advent and advancement of the Internet across the globe. While television, print and radio are still common, the online experience — from shopping to social media — allows advertisers new and expanding reach. But even while the times have undoubtedly changed, marketing’s gold standard — the 4 Ps — are still as applicable as ever.
Product. Promotion. Price. Place. Before the Internet, it didn’t matter whether your business consisted of selling promotional pen brands, fleece outerwear or specialty dog biscuits, the marketer’s goal was figuring out how to put your product in the right place, in the right way, at the right price point and at the right time. The Internet marketer’s use of the 4 Ps remains just as valid across the selling space of the virtual and digital landscape.
In a traditional buying and selling environment, consumers can see, touch, smell and even try out a product before they buy it. While the Internet does not take place in a physical environment, it still can provide ways for shoppers to experience the products they’re considering buying. Whether the Internet is the medium for purchase, like it is for online retailers, or the product being sold, like it is for social media sites or cloud computing companies, the Internet marketer has some tricks up his sleeves that, when employed well, can more than adequately make up for the loss of physicality:
- Photos. Crisp, clear, well-lit photos provide consumers with essential information about the product.
- Video. If you’re able to have video of someone using the product of service you’re selling, consumers will gain confidence about how it works and the level of quality it provides.
- Reviews. Allow customers who have already purchased the product to rate and review it so that potential buyers can get an insider’s look that isn’t from the seller.
- Questions. Have an easy forum for potential buyers to ask questions about products and services, and make sure you give a timely response.
The promotion of a product or service can seem almost limitless on the Internet. Nearly every business and brand utilizes social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where connecting to those who like what you’re offering can be accomplished cheaply and efficiently. New social networking trends sprout up like weeds, and while it can be difficult to know which ones will stick around for the long haul, staying on top of those trends with your business’s presence is vital. When it comes to using social media well from a marketing perspective, some restraint has to be shown. If too often it’s your company instead of your network that’s sharing and discussing your product, your brand could suffer. Over-marketing on social media sites is a definite faux pas, and it should be minded closely. Promotion extends out well beyond social media, too, and includes:
- Search-engine optimization
- Pay-per-click ads
- YouTube videos
- Cross-promotion on complementary websites
Consumers almost always want to know how much something costs before they get too far into considering it — especially online. In fact, price is the deciding factor for how customers browse for products and services, and when it comes to online marketing, Price and Promotion are a happy pair. From your website to your banner ads, go ahead and put the cost along with the goods and services that you are promoting. Studies have shown that promotional content that includes the price of what is being offered is much more effective than promotional content that leaves out this important piece of information.
When it comes to the virtual world, Place refers primarily to search engines. After all, how is a customer going to come across your product or service? While it’s possible that some form of marketing might pull them directly to your website, the vast majority of your customers will get to your site from a search query. Because of the importance of search engines in online selling, most online retailers and service providers spend intentional time and money on search engine optimization, and as Google and other search engines continue to crack down on any behavior that might keep their customers from finding what they’re actually looking for, SEO is getting more complex, even as it remains incredibly important.
The Internet has revolutionized much of the buying and selling game, and the changes will continue. While marketing seems vastly different, it really hasn’t been a total reinvention of the wheel. The concerns of Product, Promotion, Price and Place are as important and applicable as ever.