Marketing “Mixology.” What Specialty Drinks Can Teach Us.

The marketing mix. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s an essential part of developing your marketing strategy. And an essential part of that mix are the 5 Pillars or “5 Ps.” Think of your marketing strategy — which guides the approach you’ll take to positioning and promoting your products/services in the marketplace — as a cocktail. The 5 Ps of the marketing mix are the ingredients you’ll use to make that cocktail. So, what are they and what questions should you ask yourself to address them?

Pillar #1: Product

When you think about your product or service, consider exactly what you're selling. What does the customer want/expect from the product/service? What needs does it satisfy? What features does it possess that meet these needs? Is there a current perception of the product in the marketplace? Is it different from competitor products?  If so, how?

Pillar #2: Price

What is the value of the product or service to the buyer? Are there established price points for products or services in this market? Is the customer price sensitive? Will a small decrease in price gain you extra market share? Or will a small increase be indiscernible, and so gain you extra profit margin? How will your price compare with your competitors?

Pillar #3: Place

It doesn’t seem that long ago that “place” meant a brick-and-mortar location. That’s obviously no longer the case.  So, the place pillar in marketing now refers not only to physical location, but to any access or touch point that the consumer can experience.

Pillar #4: Promotion

The focus here is on telling consumers about the availability of your products, their benefits, and why those benefits are important to them. Effective promotion reaches potential customers at the right place, at the right time, and with the right message through a combination of media channels. Simple question here. Where and when can you get your marketing messages across to your target market? But, promotion doesn’t just inform consumers about your new products — it also helps to achieve brand positioning. Your promotional style, the visuals and the language that you choose, and even the medium that you use for advertising, all help to establish a clear brand voice.

Pillar #5: People

People become a factor when we’re talking service organizations such as retailers, healthcare providers, and you guessed it, financial institutions. In any setting where a service is delivered by a person, the actions of that person become a critical part of a company’s marketing and branding. The people pillar reflects how the actions and attitudes of staff members can create either positive or negative experiences for consumers.

Is that drink any good?

Now, back to our bartending analogy. Anyone who’s ever crafted a specialty drink knows how important it is to have the right ingredients and to make use of them in the proper proportions. If you don’t get the ingredients and proportions right, well, you could end up with something you’d rather pour down the drain than drink.

It’s a simple truism in the world of marketing, that like bartending, in order to get it right, all of the ingredients need to work together. Getting just one of them wrong can lead to less desirable results. When we’re talking cocktails, you simply start over with little consequence. In marketing, the consequences can be a bit more devastating, i.e., mis-spent dollars, loss of revenue and market share, disgruntled consumers, and more. In banking, for instance, you may have a superior retirement product that offers real competitive benefits, done your homework, and identified your bullseye prospect as the 25–54-year-old male, HHI of $75k+, college educated, and married with one child. You’ve developed your marketing messaging for the product based on research, tested it, and feel confident that it’s both relevant and compelling to this individual. Then, you choose Tik Tok as a channel. Like that not-so-palatable cocktail, you may as well pour your money down the drain. Not the most efficient allocation of marketing dollars.

Unfortunately, and another reason why the 5 Ps are so critical, is that marketing missteps are seldom this obvious in nature and, unfortunately, can be extremely costly. That’s why missteps such as the launch of New Coke in the ‘80s often make their way into marketing textbooks. What happened? Coke blew it right at Pillar #1: Product. The positioning for New Coke product was this: “The great taste of Coke with the sweetness of Pepsi.” Sounds unobjectionable, right? Well, not to loyal Coke drinkers. First, that audience wasn’t interested in a sweeter soft drink. If it were, those consumers would already be Pepsi drinkers and two, Coca-Cola underestimated the loyalty in the soft drink category. There was nothing more unforgivable to the incredibly loyal Coke drinker than “switching sides” to a Pepsi product.

On the flip side, there’s Procter & Gamble, an omnipresent manufacturer and marketer of CPGs (consumer packaged goods) that hits just about product launch out of the park.  Take Tide with Bleach. Here was a product that got Pillar #1 right.  Through research they learned that 1) their bullseye consumer was “mom,” who they also learned took great pride in sending her family out into the world looking their best, i.e., in spotless clothing; 2) they learned that moms had faced some pretty significant pain points in the process; that they could never seem to get whites white enough and that, in order to address this, always had to add bleach to the wash separately. They further discovered through research that moms weren’t particularly fond of handling a caustic liquid like bleach. The company so effectively defined the positioning of the product and its competitive benefits, that Pillars 1-5 almost didn’t matter. Of course, they did pay attention to the remaining four and with that, enjoyed one of the most successful new product launches in the company’s history.

Of course, developing a successful marketing strategy using the 5 Pillars is not as simple as described here. There’s lots more to creating effective marketing messaging than a 900-word blog. And that’s why we do what we do here at Bank Marketing Center; help you to navigate this very complex and critical discipline.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. To view our campaigns, both print and digital, visit Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.