Business Checkup: The Four Ps

“It is not enough to understand what we ought to be, unless we know what we are; and we do not understand what we are, unless we know what we ought to be.” – T.S. Eliot (Religion and Literature, 1935)

There are at least four critical aspects to any business — four areas of activity in which success and failure are worked out. As you go through the following list, think about how your business stacks up.

1. Product/Service

Over the long haul, nothing matters more than the usefulness of your product. There are all kinds of products for all kinds of customers. Making your product attractive to its customer base requires continuous reinvention. Pay close attention to what is working in the marketplace — both your promotional efforts and those of your competitors. Also, make improving and even “reinventing” your product a regular part of your business plan. Finally, learn how to extend your product with vertical, progressively priced, “back-end” products.

2. Promotion

All business starts with a promotion, succeeds by coming up with new promotions, and fails by failing to promote effectively. At least half of your time and the time of your key people should be devoted to sales and marketing. A business can sustain itself with mediocre marketing for a while — but when the economy weakens and/or the market softens, nothing will help you more or more surely than slam-bang, hard-core, aimed-at-the heart selling

3. Price

The prices you choose for your primary products are critical to your long-term success. If your price is too high, you limit your market and (maybe more importantly) limit your back-end revenue stream. If your price is too low, you can bring in more customers, but they might be of such poor quality that your back-end doesn’t work at all. Choosing the right prices for all your products — your lead generators and your back-end profit makers — is a complicated task and should be given a top priority in your business. Do plenty of careful testing. Be open to change.

4. Place

Where and how you sell your product matters. Evaluate the media you use. Are you getting the best value for your money? Harley-Davidson used this “4-P” system to pull itself out of bankruptcy in 1985. It used it, too, to become one of the most successful motorbike manufacturers in the world.

Now it’s your chance. Do it today.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]