The marketing mix section of your small business marketing plan concentrates on the tactics used to achieve the marketing and business plan. Those tactics can be categorized as the four ‘P’s’ of marketing: product, price, promotion and place(also known as the distribution channel).

A common analogy used in describing marketing mix is relating the mix (in marketing mix) as being the ingredients in a recipe: you need to get the quantities of each element right or the result will not be what you need or expect.

Consider the following questions carefully when you build your marketing plan:

When developing your marketing tactics for the product, you must consider the features, advantages and benefits of the product. Define all the characteristics of your product. Define and rank which are most valuable to your target market? Why are they valuable to your market? Define what is unique about your product and why it has a competitive advantage (something that is not easily duplicated). Consider conducting a marketing research survey to test your assumptions. You may be surprised to find out that what you thought was important to your market is not. Make sure you can address all these questions in your marketing plan.
Pricing your product sounds like a straightforward process but the reality is that it is a very complex process. At what stage in the life cycle is the product? Product life cycle stages will influence price. Are you the high cost, high value provider? Or the low cost, high volume provider? Does your product have unique attributes that can not be easily duplicated? Does your product have a competitive advantage not easily overcome? Are you trying to buy your way into the market? Be very careful with this ‘buy-in’ strategy –it is often very challenging to move a low price up. Is this product a loss leader for your sales of another, more profitable product? There are still more questions to consider when developing your price and you must analyze each answer carefully before determining the price for your product. Typically it is a good idea to plot your price attributes on a grid – you can visually see where you are on a grid and better assess if that is the right place to be.
Promotion includes a number of marketing communications tactics. Should you build a direct mail program (is your product conducive to a printed description; do you have a good targeted mail list)? Can you market your product online? Are traditional advertising methods (print, radio, television) the most appropriate? What kind of budget do you have? Does your product have a strong enough brand? If not focus on building a stronger identity and brand. How can public relations efforts help you promote your product? Can you successfully participate in trade shows and industry events to sell your product? How will you craft your sales story: from sales letters to sales pitches? Have you build measurements into each of your promotional vehicles? Do you truly understand your market and your audience? Recognize that you will need to use more than one of these tactics to launch a successful marketing campaign.
Place is how your product moves to market. What distribution channel will you use? Will it be a business-to-business channel or a business-to-consumer channel? Will you sell using your own sales staff, or will you outsource sales and use distributors or sales agents? Can you sell your product online or must it be offline and in-person? Is your market geography wide or narrow? What are the implications of the answers to these questions on your marketing mix?