Whether you are in your first or fifth year of business, planning successful sales can be a mystery. Marketing is tough enough for small businesses without the added pressure of knowing how to finesse the marketing mix for the biggest sales season of the year.
That’s why we are here to help you learn the basics about:
- What a marketing mix is (hint: It’s the variety of elements that combine to sell your products and services)
- How to adjust your marketing mix to increase sales during holidays like Boxing Day, Valentine's Day or President’s Day weekend (to name just a few)
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Unpacking the term ‘marketing mix’
A ‘marketing mix’ is just a fancy way to describe the various tactics you use to make the products and services your company offers enticing and easy to buy.
The term was coined by the American Marketing Association in the 1950s, according to Laura Lake “... to explain how marketers make important decisions regarding how they execute a successful marketing plan.”
A marketing mix can be broken down into a few elements, often known as the five P’s. These usually include, but are not limited to:
Is your business an actual physical storefront or office that customers can go to and interact with your products or learn about your services? Or do you conduct business via a website with an easy-to-remember domain name? If it's the latter, is your site equipped to do business locally (shipping, currency) and internationally?
Having a place that’s easy for customers to get to is the beginning of the path to creating a successful marketing mix.
How many services do you offer? Can they be categorized? How much inventory of your product do you carry at one time? How often are you able to replenish if demand is high? Can replenishment be adjusted for slower times?
According to Lumen Retail Management “Too much product could lead to excessive markdowns which deteriorates profitability ... while too little desired merchandise might lead to missed sales opportunities.”
Do your products represent a range of purchase points? Are prices geared for a particular market entry point? What is the profit margin for each product or service you sell? Is your retail pricing based on your markup or on your product costs?
Getting your pricing right is vital to holiday sales.
Is your signage, decor and ambiance appealing to first-time customers? Is your website easy to use and services clearly explained? This is one area that needs to be well developed and thought through.
Do your services or products appeal to one particular segment of the market? Or to multiple markets? Do your promotions tell a story about your business? Do your products or services include multiple brands of other companies?
Promotion covers everything including:
- Blog posts
These all become a part of your marketing mix promotion strategy.
Determining your marketing mix
Figuring out what your marketing mix should be is easy. Just start with your target market and select strategies that would make them want to do business with your company.
Step one is to write up a ‘profile’ of your target consumer, listing all the traits that describe them, including:
- Socioeconomic level
- Marital status
- Likes and dislikes
- Geographic location
If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, use its reporting feature to learn who your best customers are. This will help you create a picture of your ideal customer.
Knowing the demographic you want to appeal to is vital when planning marketing messages.
You have to put your information on platforms where your target audience is going to be. For example, knowing that the over-40 set tends to use Facebook over Twitter or Instagram can help you make good decisions rather than going by gut instinct.
Do an hour of digging right now
Once of the most economical things you can do to refine your marketing mix is to study your competitors.
Study the techniques, timing and strategies the big players use during sales weekends and holidays.
If a large clothing retailer is having their ‘Boxing Day Bonanza Sale’ and your T-shirt company is looking to boost sales amongst its eight- to 16-year-old target market, take note of what the big retailer does with their marketing. Watch for in-store and online ads to learn about timelines, mailed flyer coupons or newspaper ads, then borrow the strategies that make sense for you.
Most especially, pay close attention to the timing and duration of their sales and decide if your business could use the same or similar timelines.
You could also consider adding some of the following ideas to your marketing mix during seasonal sales events:
But slashing your prices isn’t the only way to boost holiday sales. You might offer upgrades instead of discounts or free trials of popular products or services.
Experiment until you find the right mix
I hope you have a better understanding of the marketing mix and how small changes to each of the five P’s can dramatically improve sales during the holidays and throughout the year. Experiment with different combinations of price, promotion and placement and in time, you too will find your sweet spot.