The 7 Ps of Marketing

The 7 Ps of Marketing

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

As an engineering undergrad, I took a Marketing 101 class on a lark, seeking to better understand the psychology behind consumer behavior and developing products with a competitive edge.

On the first day of class, we learned the fundamental concept of the 4 Ps of marketing. However, today, I like to use an expanded “7 Ps” definition. In any event, this marketing mix remains essential for any successful marketing strategy.

What Are the 7 Ps of Marketing?

The 7 Ps of marketing are:

  1. Product.
  2. Packaging.
  3. Positioning.
  4. Price.
  5. Place.
  6. People.
  7. Promotion.

As products, markets, customers, and needs change rapidly, you must continually revisit these seven Ps to ensure you’re on track and achieving the maximum results possible for you in today’s marketplace.

Over the years, I have taught the 7 principles of marketing at hundreds of seminars and venues across the nation, addressing audiences ranging from newbies to highly experienced marketers.

In the highly saturated healthcare market—where strategic decisions directly influence business growth—the 7 Ps act as a fundamental compass, often separating amateurs from professionals.

To help my audiences understand the intrinsic value of the 7 goals of marketing, I would often begin with this metaphor:

The 7 Ps of marketing are like a ship’s compass.   If you’re crossing a small lake, it’s okay to be off by a degree or two because you can see your destination on the horizon.   However, if you’re crossing an ocean, the slightest miscalculation could lead you astray, steering you toward an entirely different continent.  

Just as a ship's compass guides a captain across a vast ocean, the 7 Ps of marketing are vital navigational tools, charting a course for brand differentiation and long-lasting success.

Investing in marketing requires planning and precision—and mistakes can be costly.

Any serious discussion about you’re the components of your marketing plan should include these 7 types of marketing strategies. And—I cannot stress this enough—jumping straight to promotion (neglecting the other marketing Ps) is the worst thing you can do for long-term success.

The Benefits of a 7P Approach to Marketing

The fundamental purpose of marketing is to place the right product in the right place, at the right price and time, and to fulfill the consumer's needs.

The 7 tactics of marketing can help you:

  • Develop a competitive advantage.
  • Build a heightened awareness of consumer needs.
  • Adapt more easily to changing consumer needs.
  • Create a stronger industry position.
  • Reach a broader audience.
  • Increase brand awareness in new markets.
  • Boost sales and revenue.
  • Increase customer retention and brand loyalty.

How to Apply the 7 Ps of Marketing

Once you have defined a marketing strategy, I recommend addressing the elements of your marketing mix 7 Ps in the following sequence for maximum impact:

1. Product

Everything must start with the product. It defines who you are and what you do.

In healthcare, that means defining your available providers, products, and services and emphasizing what sets your organization apart. These are known as your key differentiating factors.

If you need help getting started, answer these questions:

  1. What do you want to promote?
  2. Is it suitable for your target market?
  3. What about it sets your organization apart from competitors?
    • How is it better?
    • If not, how could it become better?
    • How does it help your target audience solve a problem?
  4. What kind of facilities do you offer (medical group, Telehealth, both)?

Whenever possible, create a product that is truly compelling and differentiated.

2. Packaging

Once you know what you want to promote, you need to determine the best way to promote it to communicate its greatest value.

Take Heinz Ketchup, for example. For years, they packaged their ketchup in glass bottles despite it being more difficult to use. They spent a fortune trying to turn a negative experience into a product attribute.   In just one year after switching to a plastic, squeezable bottle, their sales rose 6%, while the overall industry increased only 2%.   That’s the power of strategic packaging.  

My favorite example of packaging in healthcare is “The Mommy Makeover.” No, it’s not three serious surgeries performed all at once (i.e., breast enhancement, liposuction, and abdominoplasty). Not to worry, it is just a “mommy makeover.” Go ahead and get one. After all, you deserve it! 

For medical organizations, the best packaging goes beyond mere window dressing and encompasses the entire patient experience (e.g., customer service, exam rooms, waiting rooms, etc.).

Aligning your patient’s tangible experiences with the image you want to convey is essential.

If you offer a unique product or service, like on-site labs or X-rays, it’s important to package this information into your promotional strategy.

Hospitals and health systems can also achieve promotional success by packaging service lines (e.g., urgent care, acute care, primary care, ambulatory care, Telehealth, etc.)—especially if they offer something their competitors do not.

3. Positioning

Once you’ve identified your product or service and know how to package it to patients, it’s time to position it in your marketplace.

What is positioning in a marketing mix?

It’s “the position in the consumer’s mind that your brand occupies.”

You can also think of positioning as the answer to the question,

“Why you?”

Finally, I often ask clients:

“What is the one thing you want people to remember about your product or service if they can only remember one thing?”

Positioning is a fundamental part of the branding process because it encompasses the essence of your brand. Positionings must be:

  • True
  • Differentiating
  • Memorable
  • Compelling

Here are three steps to help position your products or services and inform your headlines and taglines down the road:

Step 1. Identify a gap in the market and fill it.

Step 2. Articulate what makes your products or services unique.

Step 2. Promote that competitive edge with vigor.

Once you develop a tentative positioning statement, you might want to engage a marketing research firm to reveal the key phrases that come to mind when patients or referring doctors think of your organization. Are they saying things you’d like them to say or not?

Either way, you’ll need to create an appropriate marketing strategy going forward.

Bonus: If you can find a key positioning that works for both medical professionals and consumers—even better.

Finally, do not confuse headlines or taglines with positioning statements. The positioning is the rational argument that informs the creative for headlines or taglines.

For example, let’s say a dental service organization (DSO) built its business around delivering exceptionally gentle care to its patients.

The good news is consumers WANT gentle dentistry. The bad news is the word “gentle” is overly saturated in dentistry, making it difficult to stand out.

Given a challenge like this, a skilled marketing agency would develop a creative execution of the “gentle” position that is differentiating. For example, in the past, our digital marketing agency has translated the “gentle” positioning into headlines like “Whisper Soft Dentistry.” Such a creative approach is unique, defendable, and powerful, helping differentiate the brand.

4. Price

Price is just that, what you charge and what your customers pay.

While pricing in healthcare can sometimes be straightforward, more often, it is not defined clearly, and consumer out-of-pocket costs vary greatly. Net consumer cost depends on several factors, including:

Insurance types and coverages (HMO, PPO, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.).

  • Pre-authorizations.
  • Reimbursements.
  • Special offers (e.g., free screening).
  • Pricing structures.
  • Financing options.

In contrast, CVS MinuteClinic clearly posts its prices via walk-in signage within their waiting area.

Similarly, other disruptive businesses (e.g., membership-based practices, cash-based practices, and Telehealth businesses) can gain a huge competitive advantage when they communicate the net cost clearly and transparently to consumers upfront.

Pricing strategies have an enormous impact on the salability and profitability of your products or services. Your position in the market should be consistent with your pricing model.

For example, if your organization positions its products and services as high-quality, and your pricing model doesn't reflect that, there will be a disconnect for the consumer.

Instead, focus on aligning the perceived or delivered value with pricing to build trust and manage expectations.

Finally, remember “affordability options” like payment plans, 3rd party financing (e.g., CareCredit), and credit card acceptance can make it easier for consumers to pay for your services or products.

5. Place

We recommend you think of “place” along three dimensions within your marketing mix:

  • Physical locations.
    Each office where you conduct your business (and the way it looks, its layout, and how it feels) substantially impacts a patient’s perception of their care quality and overall experience.

    It must look appropriate for the level of services provided.

    That means your waiting rooms and exam rooms must align with consumer expectations. It could negatively impact patient perception if they look too expensive, cheap, old, outdated, or worn.

    The place where you deliver care, how it looks, and how you treat patients matters.
  • Audience demographics for each location.
    Both physical and imaginary barriers are very real and can impact your business. To succeed, you must understand where your target market lives, works, and plays compared to your office location.

    Moreover, adjacent communities can have different personas, needs, and preferences (e.g., Culver City vs. Beverly Hills).

    Patients prefer conveniently located and accessible treatment facilities close to home.

    Moreover, those who live in affluent neighborhoods will resist “shopping down” because they assume care elsewhere will be inferior to what they are used to. Meanwhile, those living in less affluent neighborhoods will usually resist “shopping up” because they assume care is more expensive or feel less comfortable in “snooty neighborhoods.”
  • Virtual services.
    Telehealth is a market disruptor that went mainstream in 2020. It changes everything in this category. After all, care can be delivered where your providers are licensed. Telehealth impacts place, product, positioning, price, and more.

The above examples are specific to providers. Products and services provided by retailers, consumer packaged goods, nutritional supplements, and Botox have different place considerations.

6. People

This encompasses everyone directly or indirectly involved in the hospital, health system, facility, or practice (e.g., patients, clinicians, staff, management, etc.) that patients encounter during their experience with your brand.

An aloof provider or rude staff member can ruin an entire patient experience.

One person’s behavior or mood can impact the entire perception of your brand.  
For your marketing mix to be effective your organization must have staff alignment with its mission, vision, and values.

We recommend investing in training to help your clinicians and staff understand how to build positive patient experiences at each touchpoint along the patient journey.

7. Promotion

Promotion is last on this list of 7 tactics for marketing—and for good reason.

Novice or amateur marketers often skip straight to promotion without considering any other Ps that inform their marketing strategy. You shouldn’t even think about promotion until the other Ps are handled.

Promotion is the vehicle that helps your products and services get noticed by the right audience at the right time and place.

It includes several strategies to reach a broader, high-intent audience, including:

  • Digital.
    • Company website.
    • Paid search.
    • Paid social media.
    • Public relations.
    • Doctor referrals.
    • Content marketing
    • Organic, local, and paid SEO.
    • Google Business Profile and online directories.
  • Traditional.
    • Streaming services.
    • Broadcast TV.
    • Connected TV.
    • Radio.
    • Billboard.
    • Print materials.

Setting a Course for Marketing Success

The 7 Ps of marketing mix creates a valuable framework for effective marketing strategies for the healthcare industry.

Organizations can effectively reach their target audience and build stronger relationships by understanding what is included in a marketing plan and applying each of these marketing plan components.

*Note: This blog post was updated in 2024 to offer fresh insights and context about the 7 Ps of marketing.

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