The 4 P’s of marketing in your sales funnel

You’ve probably heard of the 4 p’s of marketing – product, price, promotion, and place. In this blog post, I want to examine how these concepts fit into your sales funnel:

PRODUCT

In the earlier stages of your sales funnel, buyers are concerned less about the product itself but are more interested in the benefits. As they get deeper into your sales funnel, they will be more open to learning about the product – specifically its feature – but you must always bring the conversation back to the benefits. In a way, your sales funnel is like a focusing tool when it comes to the product. At first, the product is a blurry collection of benefits that attract the potential buyer; later, the product is brought into focus as the way that the buyer will receive the benefits.

One type of business that does this really well is a car dealership. They bring people in for “cars” but then the conversation turns to specifics once the customer is in the dealership. Then, as the customer gets deeper into the dealership and deeper into the sales funnel, the specifics of the product increase.

PRICE

There is nothing more frustrating than building a relationship with a potential buyer only to have them reject your price as too high and walk away moments before you close the deal. Price can be a sales-killer or a sales-maker. If you introduce price on its own too early into your sales funnel, you risk making yourself seem like you only care about the dollar and not about the customer. But if you introduce price into the conversation early, and you keep it in the context of a discussion about benefits, then your price becomes a way to filter out the people who will just waste your time. Don’t be ashamed of your price. Make your price part of your marketing and sales communication to help the potential buyer understand the value of the product.

Enterprise Rent-a-Car used to have their “$9.99 weekend special” which was a small car for the weekend for $9.99 a day. I think their promotion has changed (it’s been a while since I’ve rented a car) but I really like how they integrated the price into the promotion. Another example on the other end of the spectrum is when a high-end service provider uses a high price as a type of exclusivity.

PROMOTION

This is a general way of talking about all of the marketing communication (and sometimes the sales communication) you do while you are building a relationship with your customer. In other words, this “P” of marketing is essentially ALL of your sales funnel efforts up to the point of sale. (Of course your sales funnel goes on beyond that sale).
What I like about this term “promotion” that people often overlook in their sales funnel is this: Sales funnels tend to be thought of as a single path that a potential buyer might take toward becoming a customer, whereas a promotion might be thought of as a multi-channel way of reaching out to potential buyers. If you combine those two concepts together, you get the idea of the marketing efforts in your sales funnel as being more than just a one-step-at-a-time effort but are really a number of marketing efforts to push a potential buyer through your sales funnel.

There are many examples of companies that promote – I don’t just mean overwhelming the market with promotion but rather marketing strategically with the sales funnel in mind. One example I’m paying a lot of attention to right now is the “free information” model where you leave your contact information online in exchange for some free information and then you receive continuous communication from the company as they build a relationship and sell you on their products or services. Although MANY companies are doing this, only a few do it really well.

PLACE

The word “place” is a bit of a misnomer but it is a convenient way of describing how a product or service is delivered. The place in your sales funnel is what happens after the prospect converts into the customer and acquires the thing they bought. Your place is your delivery. I think this term falls far short of what is really going on in your sales funnel, though, because it’s not just where you deliver your product or service but it’s how you deliver it and how the customer perceives it and (most importantly) whether the customer’s problem was solved or their need was fulfilled.

The 4 P’s marketing are a popular way of talking about the important elements of marketing but they fall short in fully describing what needs to happen to run your sales funnel. Of the 4 P’s, product and price are parts of your sales funnel and promotion is a way to describe what goes on in the pre-sales part of your sales funnel; place, unfortunately, leaves out important information. I think the best lesson we can learn is from promotion and the active, multi-channel marketing methods it suggests.

My advice (and I guess I’m biased here) is to skip the 4 P’s as a memorable-but-less-than-helpful marketing mnemonic and instead build all of your marketing around the concept of a sales funnel.

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