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David LeahyJun 14, 2023 9:16:44 AM6 min read

The 3 forgotten Ps of marketing

In this fourth instalment of our series on marketing planning for industrial companies, we’ll be introducing the various tactics available to marketers. With the help of the first three posts, you will have completed the diagnosis and strategy stages; so you’ve now got 2–5 targets, each with a unique positioning, plus a handful of objectives and several metrics to measure your success.

As you can see from the model below, that means you’re past the hump in the marketing planning process, and it’s now time for tactics.



However, if you’ve just tuned in, you’ll be much better off going back and starting from the first instalment of this series. Tactics without strategy is like throwing paint against the wall. It might feel good, but you won’t get a clear picture.


What are marketing tactics?

Marketing tactics are best explained by the 4Ps or Marketing as follows:

  1. Product (and service) — understanding and managing product range and lifecycle. What products and services will you focus on for each target market?
  2. Place (AKA distribution) — the different channels to market. How are you going to reach each target with your desired range?
  3. Price — linking price to real and perceived value.  What price points intersect market value with optimal profit margin?
  4. Promotion — advertising, promotion, communications (digital, offline and hybrid)

When it comes to tactics, most people think mainly of Promotion, such as advertising, email nurture campaigns or social media plans. But we’ll get to all that in our next post.

This week we’re looking at Product, Place and Price; sometimes called the ‘forgotten 3’ of marketing. The reality in many, if not most companies, is that the marketing function is not in direct control of these. In fact, it may have little, if any, input. Many of the questions we raise in this post will already have been considered, planned and decided upon in other departments or by management, as per the business goal setting we covered in Week 1.  

For a comprehensive — and effective — marketing plan, you need to work with whoever is in charge of these areas within your company, and bring them into the marketing planning process. And if realistically you can only make minimal progress on this now, it’s a start. And you can plan for greater cross-team engagement in the next planning cycle. As we look at these three marketing tactics in more depth, we’ll outline some early contributions you can make for 2023-24, as well as listing core underlying questions that may have already been answered in your company’s business planning.


1. Product (and/or service)

Having ‘taken stock’ of your products and services in the diagnosis phase, and decided on targets and objectives, here are some key questions to ask about your products and/or services. 

Early marketing insights

  • What new product developments or launches, models, etc are we planning?
  • At what point in the funnel will different product attributes/value be most important for our target audience(s)? Does the answer to this match up to any of our objectives?
  • What changes/options are we making to the product or service to achieve our objectives? A good reference here is the three-level augmented product model from Week 2, where you might consider augmented attributes such as the: 
    • training/onboarding you can provide, especially for “technical” products
    • level of warranties you can give to a product
    • offer terms of after sales service.


Core business planning questions

  • Where are our products in their lifecycle — development, introduction, growth, maturity, or decline? How will this impact the level of marketing investment of one over another? For example, to launch a new product might require priority funding/activity over boosting a mature one.
  • Do any of our products have a seasonal cycle to consider?


2. Place (aka distribution)

This second “P” is all about putting your product/service in front of likely purchasers at the right time and place. It is thought of in terms of warehousing, sales networks and transportation, with different distribution models falling into one of two categories:

  • Direct distribution — e.g. in-house direct sales team
  • Indirect distribution — e.g. external distribution partners


Early marketing insights

Irrespective of your distribution model, we’ve found that you can make a major impact on channel effectiveness through better alignment of marketing, sales, and customer service, creating a seamless experience for customers. 

To do this you’ll need to ask how your company can achieve:

  • continuity of messaging — all singing to the same hymn sheet
  • seamless handoff of a customer from one team to the next; for example marketing to sales
  • agreed expectations, like an internal service-level agreement. What criteria qualify a marketing lead for sales? 
  • regular conversations, to jointly plan, deal with issues, and further optimise systems.


Core business planning questions

  • For existing distribution systems, what improvements can we make?
  • For new products, what needs to be done to prepare our distribution channels, and make them operational?
  • How do we create synergies across all channels, and avoid channel conflict, for example:
    • Is a product distributed in one go, or is it delivered through several components and channels?
    • If our approach involves having a distributor network as well as direct selling, how do we structure our systems to reduce complexity and keep distributors happy? 
  • Can it be distributed online (software, technical/professional consultation), or does it require physical distribution in place (manufactured items, construction/trades)?
  • Does your product/service lend itself to mass distribution or to specialist, less frequent sales?
  • What is the influence of your geographical targeting decisions on product distribution? For example, a more region-based distribution network, versus centralised ordering and distribution?
  • Should you use direct in-house distribution or would agencies/partners be more customer-centric?
  • Is leasing the way to go, rather than selling; for example, with physical products that quickly date or devalue?


3. Price

You’ve done all the diagnosis in terms of margin contribution, competitors’ pricing, etc, and have made your targeting and positioning decisions. But how to price? And what contribution can you make to price tactics?

One key concept in pricing is understanding the value of your product/service. Rather than pricing on a % margin basis, you should seek to clarify the perceived value (before sale) and actual value (post sale, once the product is experienced) in the market. This allows you to support a healthy margin, while delivering great value to your customers.


Early marketing insights

Price decisions may already have been made, but thanks to the work you’ve done so far, you can prepare some recommendations by answering questions such as:

  • At what point in the funnel will different pricing tactics be most effective with our target audience(s)?
  • Should we have different pricing for different customer types or sizes? What are the right levels for this?
  • How should we react if competitors change their pricing? You can answer this by checking against your positioning as to the importance of price. 


Core business planning questions

  • Is our pricing delivering a sustainable/desirable margin to the company?
  • What is the effect on price of our product decisions? For example, how will planned product changes or optional extras affect our costs? Or attract sales?
  • What terms should we offer: credit, deposits, up-font or bulk discounts, progress payments etc.
  • Are there opportunities with custom pricing for those who commit to longer term and/or higher volume purchasing?
  • Is our product/service susceptible to geographic pricing effects, such as between countries, or geographic regions of one country?



Just as important as Promotion are the ‘3 forgotten Ps’ of marketing:

  • Product (and service)
  • Place (distribution)
  • Price.

You may not have much influence on these at the moment, but there are some useful insights you can contribute that will help bring marketing more into future planning. 

This all may seem like a lot of ground to cover. We don’t want you to get stuck going through all this with a fine tooth comb, but if today’s post has helped you focus on 2 or 3 key improvements you can contribute for or work towards in the year ahead, it will be well worth it.

The decisions on these ‘3 forgotten Ps’ will significantly inform the promotional tactics you will develop next week.


David Leahy

I'm an industrial marketing consultant, providing senior-level marketing advisory and management services to businesses in manufacturing, engineering and construction.