'Marketing' Has More P's Than 'Hippopotamus'

‘Marketing’ Has More P’s Than ‘Hippopotamus’

by Nicholas Tart

Contrary to popular belief, marketing is not synonymous with advertising. In fact, advertising and promotion only constitutes 25% of the marketing mix. So what makes up the other 75% of marketing?

Product, price and place. Coincidentally, they all start with the letter ‘P.’ As an example I will use a hippopotamus-selling company.

Here’s the scenario: You are the marketing manager of Hippos Direct, Inc., a company that raised and now wants to sell hippopotami (the seldom used plural of hippopotamus; hippopotamuses is also correct) to zoos around the world. It is your job to develop a marketing plan for how you should go about selling the hippopotami. The basis for your marketing plan is the marketing mix, also referred to as the “4 P’s of Marketing.”


Your product is obviously hippopotami. But these aren’t just any hippopotami. Twenty years ago, Hippos Direct was started when a troop of safari-guide trainees came across a small group of 4 abandoned, seemingly unrelated hippopotami, 2 male and 2 female. Luckily they were in perfect health and the new owners of the hippopotami decided to breed them. Hippos Direct, Inc. was born!

Now Hippos Direct has a bloat (a group of hippos) of 30 hippopotami and they are running out of space. As a product, these are some of the finest hippopotami on the market. They have been bred and raised in captivity, which is ideal for zoos. Plus, they were kept in an environment with plenty of food so they are really healthy.

Product summary: Healthy hippopotami, ranging from young to old that have grown accustomed to captivity.


The going rate for a hippopotamus is about $3,000 to $6,000. However, Hippos Direct has some of the finest hippopotami on the planet. By using a market-based pricing strategy, you can set the price of your hippos towards the upper limit (anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000).

Another thing to consider is the age of each particular hippopotamus. The younger hippos should have a higher price simply because they are going to live longer in the zoos. However, the oldest available hippo is only 25 years old and they have a life expectancy of up to 60 years. So even the oldest hippo is has significant value.

Price summary: $5,500-6,000 for a young hippo or $5,000-5,500 for an older hippo.

Place (Distribution)

Determining the place/distribution is the most difficult part of composing a marketing plan for Hippos Direct. The “place” refers to the channel by which Hippopotami are sold (i.e. online, retail, etc.) and how the product gets to the customer; the customer being zoos.

Considering Hippos Direct is located in Africa where there aren’t many zoos, the most logical distribution channel would be the Internet. By placing hippopotami for sale on an online store, any zoo in the world could make the purchase. Then the hippo would be carefully packaged and shipped to the zoo.

Place summary: An online store, preferably HipposDirect.com (which is available).


Promotion is the most widely recognized aspect of marketing. It encompasses advertising, sales promotions, branding, personal selling, publicity and any other method of getting the word out about your business.

Since Hippos Direct plans on selling directly to the zoos, your promotion will have to be meticulously targeted. You’re probably going to want to take either a direct advertising or personal selling approach. A direct advertising campaign might consist of sending pamphlets and brochures directly to zoos that have a need for a hippopotamus.

By taking a personal selling approach, you could contact and try to sell directly to a zoo representative. Personal selling would probably be more effective because you have 100% control over who is exposed to your promotion and you would be talking directly to the customer. Generally, personal selling works best when you are trying to sell a few high-priced products.

Promotion summary: Personal selling technique.

Hippos Direct is a fictional company that I made up for this example. After doing a little research I couldn’t find any companies that sell hippopotami. It’s not an industry I would suggest getting into and it’s probably illegal. In fact, the pygmy hippo is endangered and the common hippo is on the verge of becoming endangered. Overall, it’s a bad idea to sell hippopotami.

The example aside, the point of the article was to learn the 4 P’s of Marketing: product (or service), price, place (or distribution) and promotion.

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Photo by: johnbullas