Article: Is Your Website Missing a P?

P is for people. Why people?

Your expectations for marketing via the Internet can range from increasing sales leads to completely revolutionizing your business and customer interactions. Increasingly most businesses are incorporating the Internet into their marketing strategies.

Yet, planning your Internet strategy is vital to using the medium successfully. Without integrating Internet marketing within your traditional marketing strategies, you can lose focus of your primary goals and easily become disorganized in your overall approach to your target market.

Properly understood, the Internet can be harnessed to complement your existing marketing practices, extend your current operations and create new opportunities. The key to successful marketing over the Internet is applying its strengths to proven traditional marketing practices in innovative ways.

Traditionally the four Ps of marketing, Price, Product, Place, and Promotion, have been considered the primary pillars of a marketing strategy. The use of the Internet as a marketing tool includes what many see as the fifth P of marketing, ‘People’ and its seamless integration within the traditional framework.

So, the first P is for people. Why people? Traditionally most small to medium sized companies approached a local demographic within a specific radius of their operations for their marketing operations. With success, typically the radius expanded. Now with the Internet global audiences are potential customers? The Internet can increase your radius of operations to an extent never seen before by most small to medium sized companies.

It is now not just a question of demographics, you must also take into account a clients ‘Internet Access Profile’, or in other words their technological capabilities. With such questions as: What are my target group’s hardware and software capabilities? How do they access the Internet and at what speed? Do they access the Internet from work, home or the library, etc.?

Design of your marketing plan and consequent website design must reflect these access points. How does your demographic compare with your traditional media marketing approach? It may be necessary to use a combination of media to gain access to your intended audience.

The second P to be considered is pricing. Pricing and payment policies on the Internet are subject to immediate scrutiny and comparison. What pricing will your customers accept that yield sufficient revenues and profit? Advances in Internet technology can help your company reduce its costs, which in turn allows you to lower prices if necessary or improve current margins.

Our third P is the all important product. Do you have products that meet your targets needs? Where service is an important component of your product, the Internet allows you to provide better information, well written content and establish added perceived value of your product. There are also many companies whose Web site is their product.

The fourth P being place is now less important to web based companies and to a lesser extent a company with physical geographic locations as the Internet can now be used by businesses as a distribution channel, allowing direct sales to customers. Yet, order fulfillment and shipping of physical product with all that entails is still your prime consideration.

You may also find that your supply chain can be shortened as you may conduct direct transactions between your suppliers and end-users without the involvement of intermediaries. A word of caution, this does require that you rethink how you may operate successfully with your existing or future dealer networks.

And last, but not the least P, is promotion. Most companies with a Web site use it simply to promote their products. An online brochure that is potentially unexciting and boringly informative. What forms of promotion will reach your customers? Will you use a mix of print advertising, banner advertising, competitions, newsletters, search engines, brochures, sales staff and customer support?

Your marketing plan is the master strategy that defines the above five P’s of marketing and must outline how you will integrate the various processes, technologies and strategies. A web site design and Internet strategy that does not include all five P’s in its marketing mix will never be fully effective.

Marketing mix? That’s another story. – John Shenton – May 14, 2002