When she was 16, Kayla Branscum needed a research project for her entrepreneurship class at school. That's when she looked around her hometown of Batesville, Arkansas, and discovered that the college town had no coffeehouse.
As Kayla dug into her research, she realized her idea for a coffeehouse was more than a fun class project-it was a great business idea. Why? She already had two of the six Ps of marketing covered: She had the right product (coffee) and the right people (college students who buy lots of coffee). Now, she thought, if she could just nail down the other four.
What Are the Six Ps?
The six Ps of marketing are elements that ideally converge harmoniously to deliver a product or service that customers won't be able to resist. They include the right product, presented to the right people at the right price, at the right place, with the right promotion, followed by the product's dependable performance.
In Kayla's case, she knew her idea was solid. After all, what college kid doesn't need a cup of joe every now and then? Her research project provided the opportunity to perfect the elements of price and place, which she did before opening Kayla's Java CafÃ© a few months later.
Opening day provided Kayla the perfect opportunity to promote her cafÃ©. She did that by providing free samples of coffee to the more than 250 people who lined up that day. She also leveraged her unique position as a teen business owner when sending out press releases, and soon magazines and newspapers around the country took the bait and featured stories about the teen biz whiz.
As time went on, she relied on a different kind of promotion. "Word-of-mouth is the best form of promotion," according to Kayla. Customers also found they could rely on dependable business performance, the sixth P, every time they stepped foot in the cafÃ©.
This teen entrepreneur also watched for new ways to respond to customer needs, such as by adding pastries and deli sandwiches to her menu when she discovered a potential lunch crowd. She also added cold drinks for customers who didn't want to consume hot coffee during the summer. She even invented new coffee concoctions, such as The Dreamsicle, that customers could find nowhere else.
Ignore at Your Own Risk
As any entrepreneur can tell you, the six Ps of marketing are vital to the success of any business. But even the most conscientious entrepreneur sometimes forgets the rules. Just ask Anisah Rasheed, owner of Sister Clowns in Roanoke, Virginia, a service that provides entertainment for children's birthday parties.
Anisah has appeared on television, in magazines and newspapers, and has even won Black Enterprise magazine's Kidpreneur of the Year award. One less than perfect moment, however, stands out in her mind. Faced with an important potential customer, she discovered that she lacked the right promotion-she'd forgotten her business cards.
It was a valuable lesson for Anisah, who now carries her cards with her and keeps extras in her mom's car just in case. She's also become a little more creative in promoting her business. "I've expanded my marketing to include volunteering my clown services for special events and appearing as a guest speaker," she explains.
And when it comes to providing her customers with dependable business performance, Anisah leaves nothing to chance. When parents book her services, she has them fill out a client assessment sheet to determine their needs, then bases her performances on that information. She arrives early at parties so she'll have time to prepare. "When I arrive for a performance, I meet the birthday child, find out where I'm going to be located, get set up, and go to work," she says.
Her work doesn't end after the party wraps up either. Anisah gives the host five business cards so they can pass them along to friends, and then writes a thank-you letter in which she invites suggestions for improvements.
As both of these enterprising entrepreneurs have discovered, keeping the six Ps of marketing in mind can vastly improve their businesses and their bottom lines.