Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Four “P's” of Marketing for Belly Dance: Part 1

E. Jerome McCarthy
The Four P's
In 1960, a marketing professor named E. Jerome McCarthy famously published a book called Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach. This book launched a concept that has outlived the “Mad Men” era in which it was published: the “Four P’s” of marketing. 

McCarthy defined the four key components of any marketing strategy: Product, Pricing, Placement, and Promotion. 

Once you understand this concept, you’ll see that almost any product or service succeeds or fails based on how well the company executes these four things. And none is less important than another – it’s the combination that determines success.

Of course, this principle is completely applicable to belly dance. If you do your best to optimize each of the four P’s when planning a new event, class, product, or service, you will be more successful. Even if your venture is not a resounding success, you will know that you did your best to help it win.

The Objectivity Challenge
I believe that in the arts, marketing can be a challenge because we are so close to the things we're offering to the customer. It's difficult to take an objective view... is this something people really want?  Does the pricing make it seem like a good value?  Is it at the right place and time?  Am I describing it in a way that makes sense?  Am I getting the word out enough, or just assuming that "if I build it, they will come?"  All of these things must be considered with the harsh objectivity that can be very difficult for people who are marketing an artistic product.

If I could offer one word of advice based on the many events and product offerings I've seen over the years, it's objectivity.  Try to step back and see your product -- and your marketing -- from the customer's perspective. 

The First "P":  PRODUCT
You’ve probably heard the common marketing expression, “don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” In marketing, this means "emphasize what's different and exciting about your product."  However, I maintain that if you serve an amazing steak, you don’t have to invent other reasons why someone would want to pay for it.

What this means is that having a great product makes the marketing part easier. The only way to win if you don’t start with a solid product is to try to make up the difference with marketing by selling the “sizzle.” And that takes a lot more work! Everything hinges on the quality of the product. The more exciting your product is to the market, the more they will be willing to pay and the farther they will be willing to drive.

Back to objectivity... the important thing is to take a very objective view of your product and do your best to see it through the eyes of the consumer.

So how do you know you have a great product?
  • Clearly identify the customers for whom you are designing the product. Hint: it’s probably not you. You may have a lot in common with your customers (e.g., you’re all belly dancers), but you’re most likely not designing a product for yourself.
  • Listen to your customers and give them something they want. Never forget that your opinion about what the market wants may not be accurate, and it’s really not relevant. All that matters is what your customers want and need. If you have an idea about something you think you can offer, talk about it with your students, friends, or associates and get their input.
  • Look at what else is available and give customers something no one else is offering. In marketing we call this the “white space.” Within the universe of what the market wants and needs, where are the gaps that you can potentially fill? 
Once you develop your product, you must clearly define it for yourself before you start communicating to your customers about it. I worked in marketing at Coca-Cola for nine years. The key question marketers at Coke ask themselves about every new offering is, “How is it different, better, and more special?” Define for yourself why your product is different, better, and more special – so you can clearly explain it to the customer.

Now check out part 2... Pricing!

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