The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal

Use the "Pro" system, otherwise called the 4Ps formula, to persuade your audience.

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Problem: I am writing content for my business but don't know if Google will like it. Promise: INK scores your content in real-time so you'll always know how well it's optimized for SEO Proof: A case study demonstrates that you are up to 450% more likely to rank on the first page of Google. Proposal: Download INK to find out how your content scores.

Promote Your New Product With INK's Marketing Mix Generator Tool

INK's The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal Tool

INK's The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal Tool

Also known as the marketing mix, the 4 Ps of Marketing is a classic model for commerce. In short, you use the 4 Psproduct, place, price, and promotion — to hone your marketing strategy. Need inspiration? Look no further than INK's The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal tool.

INK's The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal tool can help you find unique and effective marketing ideas to promote your brand or product.

Main 4 Ps of Marketing Takeaways:

  • The 4 Ps of marketing are product, place, price, and promotion
  • Product is your company's item or service
  • Place is where you promote or sell your product
  • Price is the cost that consumers will pay for your product
  • Promotion is how you'll promote your product
  • Neil Borden came up with the term "Marketing Mix" in the 1940s
  • E. Jerome McCarthy condensed Borden's marketing mix into the 4 Ps in 1960
  • Booms and Bitner added physical evidence, people, and processes in the early 1980s, creating the 7 P model

You’ve come up with a great new product — a real winner. You’re sure people will like it, but first, you have to help them find it. That’s where the Marketing Mix comes in. The famous 4 Ps of marketing first emerged in the 1960s, and it’s still a popular approach now. Why? Because it’s simple, effective, and easy to implement.

In this article, we’ll find out more about the 4 Ps, find out why they’re important, and learn how they work together. Finally, we’ll introduce you to a handy new tool from INK called The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal tool.

What Are the Four Ps Of Marketing?

What Are the Four Ps Of Marketing?

What Are the Four Ps Of Marketing?

In ultra-simple terms, the four Ps of marketing are four words. Dig a little deeper into those words, and you find the seeds of a clever, consumer-centric marketing plan. Let’s explore each P in turn: product, place, price, and promotion.


Product is the “thing” or the service your company offers. The most saleable products are either innovative or cater to an existing — and popular — market niche.

Innovation for a plumber, for instance, might be a brand new drain-unclogging system. Plumbers also offer standard services like a faucet or toilet installation. Covering both sides of the product spectrum can help to future-proof your business.

Let’s see some product examples:

  • Business consultant: Consulting services (existing niche) and a proprietary business development program (innovative)
  • Clothing designer: Pants (existing niche) and shoes made of recycled jeans (innovative)
  • Software developer: CRM (existing niche) and a new AI-based design program (innovative)

Selling your product means learning all about its life cycle. You need to know your product inside out, what makes your product unique, and why your product is the best thing on the market. If you know these three things, you can create demand for your product.


Place is the “where” part of the marketing mix. You need to decide where you’ll sell your product — and where you’ll advertise, too. Where do your customers typically hang out? What kind of ads do they respond to? What’s your budget? To make money, you need to put your products in front of people who will buy them.

Don’t expect consumers to find you all by themselves. Instead, take your company or your product to them. This is a vital part of the marketing mix.

You also need a sales channel (or sales channels). Some companies go the old-fashioned route and make deals with department stores. Others sell exclusively online. Still, others — and perhaps the biggest modern cohort — choose a combination approach: They sell their wares in physical stores and via the net, too.


Price is the amount of money consumers will realistically pay for your product. Product prices are driven by two things: industry-standard markup and your item’s perceived value. You can see this dynamic in action in the shoe industry.

Nike running shoes sell twice or even three times as much as off-brand sneakers, for instance. Nike's footwear is premium quality — but part of the price you pay is driven by brand name.

Price isn’t a fixed thing. You might decide to discount your product to create a buzz. Many companies offer pre-launch prices to generate an initial sales surge and then increase prices later on. LARQ water bottles, for example, came with a $59 pre-launch price tag; now, the same products sell for $95.

It isn’t always easy to come up with a price for your product. If you don’t know your item's perceived value, do a little market research to find out. Create a survey with SurveyMonkey or Typeform. Send it to your email list or ask your social media followers what they think.


Promotion is your PR strategy. You have a stellar product; your ads are humming along, and your sales channels are set. The time has come to promote your product. Promotional strategies aim to:

  • Tell consumers why they need your product
  • Convince consumers that your asking price represents value for money

Contemporary advertising options include:

  • Billboards: Billboards are enormous, and they put your product in front of commuters. They’re expensive but effective.
  • TV and radio ads: Another expensive but compelling option, well-made TV and radio ads represent a proven way to boost sales.
  • Online banner ads: Cheaper than TV ads, banner ads are in-your-face and — when they’re designed professionally — usually generate a decent ROI.
  • PPC ads: Pay-per-click ads are cost-effective because you only pay when people click on your link. They begin driving traffic to your site almost immediately.
  • Social media ads: Social media ads are relatively inexpensive and leverage a massive consumer base — billions of people use Twitter and Facebook.
  • Influencers and bloggers: Compensated deals with influencers and bloggers help to humanize your product — and you tap into the internet celebrity’s existing fan base.

Need promotional ideas? Check out your competitors. Analyze rival websites with digital marketing intelligence tools like SimilarWeb and Ubersuggest, for instance. You can use the results you get to generate your own fantastic promotional plan.

Who Developed the 4 Ps of Marketing?

Who Developed the 4 Ps of Marketing?

Who Developed the 4 Ps of Marketing?

Harvard Business School professor Neil Borden came up with the phrase “Marketing Mix” in the late 1940s. The Marketing Mix didn’t materialize exclusively because of Borden, though. In fact, Borden drew on the work of a former colleague, Prof. James Culliton.

Culliton began to describe marketers as “mixers” during the postwar period. Later, Borden felt inspired by the term and began to use it in his own work.

Borden’s original marketing strategy was a little more complex than the 4 Ps. In fact, it had nine categories:

  • Product
  • Branding
  • Packaging
  • Price
  • Distribution
  • Planning
  • Advertising
  • Promotional display
  • Personal selling

In 1960, another Harvard professor, E. Jerome McCarthy, condensed Borden’s nine-factor marketing program into the marketing mix 4Ps we know today. The 4 Ps approach became more and more popular over subsequent decades. Today, nearly all promotions experts know about the Marketing Mix and use it to create effective marketing plans.

What About the 7 Ps of Marketing?

Some marketers augment the traditional Marketing mix with three additional Ps: physical evidence, people, and processes. Developed by Bernard H. Booms and Mary J. Bitner in the early 1980s, the 7 P model is a modern update to the 4 Ps of marketing. You'll also hear the 7 P model called "The 7 Ps of Booms and Bitner."

Booms and Bitner’s additions help make it easier for service-based companies to formulate effective marketing strategies. Let’s dissect those final three Ps to find out what they’re all about:

  • Physical evidence: This P refers to physical evidence of your company or product — in other words, it proves legitimacy. Verified reviews, physical marketing materials (brochures, for instance), and websites all count as physical evidence.
  • People: This P has to do with your employees. To find success, you need talented people at all levels — from the design process to the sales floor and beyond.
  • Processes: This P is all about your sales funnel, your supplier relationships, your payment processor, and your distribution system. Your processes have to play nicely with each other.

Some marketing experts also talk about an eighth P: performance and productivity. Do customers believe that your brand offers value for money? Are they satisfied with your products or services? This P is worth keeping in mind, even if you don’t include it in your own marketing mix.

Why Are the Four Ps Of Marketing Important?

Why Are the Four Ps Of Marketing Important?

Why Are the Four Ps Of Marketing Important?

The four Ps of marketing are important because they help companies define and implement great marketing strategies. If you don’t use the 4P approach, you’ll have to come up with something else — and that can be a shot in the dark. The Marketing Mix is a convenient, ready-made list of vital things to keep in mind as you develop a business plan.

How Do the 4 Ps of Marketing Work Together?

Together, the four Ps provide a sales funnel framework. You can use them to put your product in front of the right customer demographic, at the right time, for the right price. That magic combination can seriously boost your conversion rate.

The four Ps work in harmony together. Here are just a few examples:

  • Product and place: Seasonal clothing collections that sell better in store than they do online.
  • Place and price: Special offers in conjunction with specific retailers; full price products sold in different locations.
  • Price and promotion: Banner ads that push time-limited special offers.

Make The 4 Ps Your Go-To Marketing Strategy

The Marketing Mix makes perfect sense — so why not use it to your advantage? Product, place, price, and promotion work beautifully together, and the combo could boost your revenue. Need inspiration? Use INK's The 4ps of Marketing: Problem, Promise, Proof, Proposal tool to find marketing ideas and take your business to the next level.