Terms of Service: The 4 Ps of the Marketing Mix

  The 4 Ps comprise what’s known as the marketing mix. These components are the building blocks of marketing. They are PRODUCT, PRICE, PLACE, and PROMOTION. One of the easiest examples of how these work together is in real estate sales. When a real estate agent signs with someone who wants to sell a house, the agent naturally considers all of the Ps and how they work together.     4 Ps In Action If you watch any of the real estate sales reality shows you know there are some factors that affect the product right away. “Location, location, location!” is the old real estate adage but that’s really only the start. Let’s say the PRODUCT is a four bedroom, two bath house in a good neighborhood with good schools (PLACE). What condition is the house in? How old is it? How is the plumbing, heating and AC, electrical, roof? Is it owned by the first owner or was it recently flipped? All of those things and more come into assessing the PRICE. When a veteran Realtor® considers the PRICE they take into account what has sold in the neighborhood recently that compares to this new listing. In other words, they consider the PRODUCT and the PLACE. Once the price tag is established, the PROMOTION starts.   Location, Location, Location! If this is a supremely desirable neighborhood where sales happen very rarely, then a sign might be all that it takes. But let’s face it, those neighborhoods, or any PRODUCT set apart exclusively by PLACE are atypical. It is more likely that the agent needs to turn to PROMOTION and buy a few ads, coordinate a mailer focusing on this particular property, and hold an open house (virtual or live). Common these days are Video tours and even drone footage if it boasts a spectacular plot of land or scenic view.   Your Turn! What are your 4P’s? Here’s a downloadable chart to help you map them out. 4Ps_2020_McCormickLA   Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and businesses of all shapes and sizes. Sign-up on her website today to receive helpful insights like this one in your inbox.  See how easy your promotional efforts can be here....
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3 Words to Replace for Stronger Writing

Just – Do – Get – Out of the Way for Better Writing This is not a weird rip-off of Nike’s affirmative tagline, Just Do It! These are the words that haunt my writing making it slag and drag with boring words. Do you have a bad habit in your writing? The same three might plague you as well. Extraneous words make boring copy. Admitting there’s a problem is the first step. Double check your writing by reading each word in reverse order. This way you will view each word individually instead of anticipating what word comes next. You’ll also be more likely to notice if there’s a repetitive word.     Just a Minute I’ve overused the word ‘just’ for years. I use it in front of a little, a tad, a bit. I also use it instead of only, solely, and all (as in “you just need to _______”). The worst is as a qualifier—just a PR consultant or just a work-at-home mom—it never belongs in front of a role or occupation! It’s belittling and disrespectful. Let me say that again:             NEVER PUT THE WORD “JUST” IN FRONT OF A ROLE OR OCCUPATION! If you find you’ve done that, ALWAYS change it to an aspirational descriptor like fabulous, valuable, qualified, sought after, or respected as a way to support what you and others are doing and the important roles you fill every day. The truth is, the word is rarely needed and is just in the way.   That Thing You Do ‘Do’ is a general word. It works for Nike (Just Do It!) and for Mountain Dew (Do the Dew!) because everyone can internalize the statement and believe the tagline is referring to what the they do best. When I find that I am using ‘do’ instead of a specific verb, I substitute something more interesting or active—maybe something punchy–that doesn’t leave any question about what I need to do. “I just need to do a report” becomes “I only need to write/create/compose/author a report.” If you give instruction to others on a regular basis as a parent, teacher, or manager, then you know that saying, “Don’t do that,” is not nearly as effective as saying, “Stop running,” or the more affirmative “please walk.”   I Get You While we get each other and try hard not to get COVID-19 and other viruses, it is...
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Membership Associations in the Time of COVID-19

Before I started my business, I was the communications director for a local then for a statewide membership association. Both were invaluable experiences for me. I learned about board leadership, volunteer structure, the power and importance of bylaws and their companion standing rules or policies and procedures. And I learned about independent businesses in two different industries. All of these skills I have used in my business to help both nonprofits and businesses. When I started my consulting business, the first thing I did after getting my business license was join the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. There was a weekly networking breakfast that I attended religiously. Long after that was gone, I miss having a regular anchor appointment to anchor my week. Chambers of Commerce are the most basic business associations around. Anyone can be a member—global corporations who want to be good corporate citizens down to the independent direct sales associates. There is a Chamber serving just about every city in America. If you are considering joining an association, now is an excellent time to benefit from synergy created with other people in your geographic area or industry niche. Keep reading so you’ll know what to look for.   Align with positivity As COVID-19 stay-at-home options continue across the country, I’ve noticed two distinct paths for membership associations, including service organizations. They are either afraid to bill for dues as it seems insulting or insensitive when their members are struggling to operate or they are adding value with increased virtual opportunities for their members. Of course, adding value is the way to go! Instead of not asking for dues at all, create a payment plan so members can pay something that fits with their situation. Make that investment easy and obvious by ADDING VALUE! Hold some online networking meetings. I recently took part in the Greater San Fernando Valley’s Chamber of Commerce Thirsty Thursday event. They welcomed members from other chambers to this one-hour “speed-networking” Zoom extravaganza that they have been holding every week since the stay-at-home orders began. They were introducing new members. Wow! At a time when it’s easy to assume that businesses wouldn’t consider spending any money, the value they have been able to offer has helped them recruit members. It was such a great model Long Beach is now going to host Thirsty Thursdays as well, in addition to their Good Afternoon...
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Titles – CEO to Vizier

  As the US Postal Service finds itself in the news quite often lately, I was pondering the title Postmaster General. What a weird title! Silly, really. When you Google it, the information assures the reader that the postmaster general is the CEO of the USPS. Why don’t we just call it that? The first postmaster general was Benjamin Franklin. I have to assume the witty Almanac writer was great at parties making him a Toastmaster Postmaster–now that’s quite a title! An even stranger (dumber) title is Grand Wizard. That’s what a certain white supremacist organization (which doesn’t deserve to be named) calls their leader. It’s stupid enough to suit that group just fine—good branding! I can think of some other suitable titles, but I digress.   The U.S. Government is Not a Great Model for Titles The United States government is full of titles that perhaps don’t mean what they once did and don’t seem to follow the terms of just one organizational chart. President, vice president–those are fine. The term ‘secretary’ was especially confusing to me when I was learning about the Cabinet (the what? Like a cupboard?) in elementary school. My mom was a secretary. She knew shorthand and typed. Is that what the Secretary of the Interior does? By Interior, we mean outside (what?)—national parks and such. She worked at a bank, does that make her a Treasury Secretary? Hmm. Then we have a whole tier of ‘deputies’ under the ‘chief of staff’ (a normal title). Deputies? Where are the sheriffs? Did they all get shot by Eric Clapton? Is the chief of staff the sheriff? In the interest of parallelism, if that person isn’t called the sheriff, shouldn’t those under him or her on the organization chart be called ‘assistant chiefs’? Or ‘sous chefs,’ like in a kitchen?   Russian Influence Sidelining sheik and vizier, the US Presidents somehow embraced the title of ‘czar’ as the title for those who are essentially task force managers, the term for Russian emperors before 1917. How did this Russian title make it into our government structure? Aren’t we opposed to Russian influence? What’s Russian for ‘task force manager’? That might have been better. Czar was largely used as a nickname for the person in charge of a department, however the title was given out by presidential appointment starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt who named 11 czars. Topping...
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Host a Fire Sale, COVID-19 Style

A fire sale is what retailers would offer after a literal fire damaged their inventory. They’d sell whatever they could deeply discounted and trash the rest. The term is also used during any sale that will help a business avoid complete destruction. Even though it’s a virus not a fire that is ravaging some businesses’ output these days, it’s important to stay in business to sell what you can and shelve the rest for now. Know your audience, read the room, connect the dots. Whatever you want to call it, it is time to examine your customers’ situation closely. Use your intuition to pivot in this ongoing season of COVID-19. Offer your customers something they want at a price they can afford, via a safe and hygienic delivery system.   What do your customers want? Anticipating needs is part of good customer service. Consider that everyone’s connection to their homes has increased. Home offices, home schools, staycations. What can you offer that your customers can use at home? Can you offer them something that their children can do at home, independent of their parents? Do you possess some wisdom you can offer in these times? Can your product be used differently by families in quarantine? Finally, dig deep in your inventory to see what you can rotate out and sell extremely discounted or give away with other sales. Be creative!   What can your customers afford? Many people have little money to spend, if any at all. Look at who your regular buyers are. Develop family packs of your products or solo-size for your single customers. Price your products within a reasonable range of affordability and adjust your costs accordingly. Think meatloaf, not prime rib. Add some little things that let people know you care. In March and April some deliveries came with a roll of toilet paper–brilliant, even if un-appetizing! Alcohol wipes, masks, or a few coloring sheets for the children lend a sentiment of caring and will be put to immediate use.   Make your delivery system as easy as possible. If you haven’t figured out a way to deliver your product, you better hurry up! Deliver services using one of many virtual platforms that you should already be using. Distribute tangible products through no-contact (or minimal contact) pick-up, delivery by car, bike, or a shipping service (USPS, UPS, FedEx, and others) remain exceedingly important and will...
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