Strategic Marketing for Educational Institutions

Marketing mix is the term used for the four marketing variables over which the company can exercise control. It can be defined as the combination of detailed strategies, tactics, operational policies, programs, techniques and activities to which resources may be allocated such that the company’s marketing objectives are achieved. The role of the marketing mix is to move objectives and plans into the reality of implementation and achievement (Kotler & Fox, 1985).

Marketing mix consist of 4-Ps as described below from a company — Barnes and Noble — a bookseller: This company is a private company that specializes in selling the books of various categories to the readers.


Pricing a product or service is one of the most important business decisions. A company like Barnes and Noble, a book seller, must offer its books for a price that its target market is willing to pay — and one that produces a profit for the company. Barnes and Noble can use discounts, or lower price for increasing its sales.


This “P” addresses what distribution channels that a company is going to use eg. Is the company a manufacturer, a wholesaler or a retailer. Over time, distribution channels change as businesses grow (Lewis, 1984). So, a company, like Barnes and Noble, is required to decide how to make best sellers available in time. In short, Barnes and Noble uses a variety of techniques to make books available. It uses both intensive distribution, and selective distribution for selling the books.


There are a number of promotional activities a company can undertake including, advertising including magazines, newspapers, radio, television, billboards, banner advertising on websites, bus shelters, Yellow Pages and more, publicity including press releases, feature articles, television interviews, authoring a book and referrals, sponsorship – anything from sponsoring a sporting event to a television show, and sales promotion including making special one-off offers to get people through the door including sales, incentives and contests (Smith, 1988). Barnes and Noble makes use of all of the above promotional avenues for selling its books. For example, it makes use of direct marketing as well as the Internet marketing also promotes its books through newspaper, TV advertisements, and Internet advertisement.


product can be a physical item, a service, or an idea. In 4-P the company needs to describe in detail the products or services in terms of the features and benefits they offer customers.

Products may be highly unique (specialty products) or virtually indistinguishable from competitors’ products (commodity products) – and anything in between. Specialty products are not necessarily better than commodity products, but they do require different marketing strategies (Lewis, 1984). A potentially important strategy for specialty products is differentiation. A company differentiates its products when it sets them apart from the competitors’ products in the minds of customers. Having a thorough understanding of how a product’s benefits compare to the competitors’ allows one to compete with them through differentiation.

For example, Barnes and Noble provides the features through selling quality reading material with different categories of books for different kinds of readers. It also serves coffee bar and reading lounge for the customers.


Sales promotions can result in immediate sales benefits and also “help keep sales consistent throughout the year,” (Chapter 6, p. 4). Although sales promotions are short-term and can potentially hurt the brand image, they are often indispensible tools for some companies and some brands. There are basically two categories of promotions: promotions for consumers and promotions for the trade industry (retailers or wholesalers). Consumer promotions account for as much as 75% of all marketing expenditures for some companies (Chapter 6, p. 8). Seven primary types of consumer promotions include coupons, sampling, cash refunds or rebates, sweepstakes, loyalty programs, premiums, and free trials.

Coupons are one of the most common types of consumer promotions used. Coupons may offer a percentage off a purchase, or a finite dollar amount. Although coupon use has declined, they remain important. Food coupons are one of the most important types of coupons used in the consumer sector. For instance, a Kraft brand product can place a coupon each week in the weekly advertising supplement in a local newspaper. Consumers will look forward to finding the weekly coupon to replenish their supply of whatever the item is, thus securing Kraft’s brand loyalty with that specific demographic.

Sampling is an important promotional tactic for a new product, or a product that has recently been changed or rebranded. Again, food items benefit particularly well from the use of samples because a customer is much more likely to buy something they know tastes good vs. An item that they have never tried before and cannot pronounce the name. Therefore, if an item is exotic like a special New Mexican enchilada sauce, the consumer who tries the delicious sauce will have incentive to buy it. The product “sells itself,” theoretically.

Cash refunds or rebates are used more often in the consumer electronics sector. From the manufacturer’s perspective, rebates are clever because the consumer has already made the purchase. For example, a television at Best Buy is $500 but is tagged as $450 with a mail-in rebate. The customer thinks of the television as being $450, and if that person forgets to mail the rebate form, he or she already made the full purchase. This is why it is a clever tactic.

Sweepstakes and contests are good for brand awareness (Chapter 6). The travel sector relies heavily on sweepstakes and contests, because perhaps the customer has to give an email address to register. This way, the travel company can send email deals and the customer might eventually make a purchase. The use of sweepstakes is therefore a longer-term type of promotion.

Loyalty programs are effective for retailers in a fairly competitive market sector, such as coffee. A coffee shop with a loyalty card encourages its customers to walk that extra block for their coffee, in the hopes that after the tenth purchase, the next cup will be free. As long as the loyalty program is easy to understand, the customer is likely to favor the shop with the loyalty card (Chapter 6).

Premiums refer to promotions like the “gift with purchase” option frequently used in the cosmetics industry. The cosmetics industry uses this because the consumer feels like she or he is receiving something for “free,” such as a makeup kit or lipstick, just for purchasing over a certain dollar value. It is effective, because the customer might spend more than she or he intended.

Finally, free trials are used commonly in the software industry. The software company knows that the consumer wants to see if the software works for them and fulfills their needs before making a purchase. A free trial of a software shows the company stands by its brand enough to offer the free trial, and hopes to lure the customer into making the ultimate purchase.


Chapter 6.

Joseph, C. (n.d.). Consumer sales promotion techniques. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved online:

Kotler, P., & Fox, K.F.A. (1985). Strategic marketing for educational institutions. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Lewis, R.C. (1984). Getting the most from marketing research, part II: Theoretical and practical considerations in research design. The Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 24(3), 25-35

Smith, M.J. (1988). Contemporary communication research methods. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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