Marketing Mix Recipe
What comes to mind when you think of chocolate cake? Maybe it’s your favorite dessert (or guilty pleasure). Does it remind you of a positive memory (birthday party, graduation party, etc.)? While a lot of us enjoy eating chocolate cake, we don’t realize that the process of baking a chocolate cake has many parallels with creating the right marketing mix. Say what? Putting together a marketing mix requires an understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish, figuring out the set of ingredients, and the right proportions of those ingredients to get the job done. Let’s take a look at the process of finding the right marketing mix (through the eyes of baking a chocolate cake).
Step 1: What are we trying to accomplish?
Before you determine what ingredients (or marketing elements) you need, you must first identify what you’re trying to accomplish. In other words, what’s your “end-game”? Baking a chocolate cake requires different ingredients than making banana bread. This step is really just about aligning goals. You may have made the best banana bread in the world, but if your goal was chocolate cake, you’ll be sorely disappointed.
Step 2: What ingredients do we need?
Now that we know what we’re trying to accomplish, what do we need to get there? In-store merchandising, advertising, coupons and sweepstakes, trade promotions, prices, and many other ingredients are at your fingertips. It’s about deciding which ingredients are required to achieve your goal (even before you figure out what proportions of ingredients you need). I know that I need flour to bake a chocolate cake. Do you need promotional sweepstakes to make your “chocolate cake”?
Step 3: What proportions of those ingredients are needed to get the job done?
Data analysis and market research come in really handy for this step. Some companies have a lot of marketing data but don’t know what to do with it, or what it means. There are market research tools out there that can take a huge set of marketing data and identify which elements are having an impact (and by what degree). This type of analysis covers more than just “should I do more radio advertising than direct mail?”; but it also tells you at what point you’ll receive diminishing returns on a specific element. In “baking chocolate cake” terms, what is the right amount of sugar I need to add to make the cake at its optimum taste and avoid making it too sweet (is that even possible?).
Although this analogy may be humorous to you (or make you downright hungry), it makes a very important application to developing a marketing mix. You don’t put a bunch of flour and milk together and expect it to bake a chocolate cake. It takes ALL the right ingredients and ALL at the right proportions. If you take the same basic set of ingredients at different proportions, you could end up with pancakes, or bread, or even custard. Baking (and marketing) is all about the right mix of ingredients – the mix differs depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.