OREA Real Estate College

The 4 Ps

hand holding small house

Oxford Dictionaries defines marketing as the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. The focus is satisfying consumer needs. As real estate professionals, consider two questions: Do you sell products or services? What marketing mix is best?

The answer to the first question is both – you sell products (properties) and services (knowledge of the profession, putting clients’ needs first). The latter, in the form of referrals and repeat business, is the best type of marketing. In addition, you may offer value-added services, such as additional online distribution channels to promote a seller’s property. 

The answer to the second question – marketing mix – is more complex. Activities you choose to bring your product and service to consumers will depend on the brokerage you work for, local market circumstances, and competition. Whatever the combination, however, your marketing mix should include four variables, known as the four Ps – product, promotion, price, and place. This concept was introduced by American marketing management professor Edmund Jerome McCarthy in 1960. 

Briefly, the four Ps are defined as follows:

Product: Tangible products or intangible services offered to consumers

Promotion: The method of communication by which the marketer provides information about the product/service; includes various forms of advertising

Price: The price customers are willing to pay to purchase the product/service; price is dependent on demand 

Place: The market where the product/service is sold 

The four Ps can be applied to real estate if each Ps is broken down to buying (attracting clients/customers who want to sell their properties to the brokerage) and selling (promoting the listed properties). For example:

Buying Selling
Product (& Service) Detail the advantages of dealing with a particular brokerage, such as quality/type of service, market niches served, franchise affiliation, additional services offered (e.g., financing, appraisal) Obtain all necessary information about the property (e.g., location, property size, room size and configuration, amenities) and ensuring information is accurate; obtain knowledge about the neighbourhood (e.g., schools, public transit)
Promotion Outline institutional and targeted advertising, local/national promotional strategies, MLS®, direct marketing, website content, print media options Establish a specific marketing plan for seller’s property based on brokerage and broker/salesperson marketing (e.g., advertising, open houses, signage)
Price Establish what commission (or flat fee) will be charged to represent sellers and buyers, bundled services for the fee, fee flexibility, and special incentives Determine listing price strategy for optimum marketability based on competing properties, sold properties, expired listings (those listed but removed unsold from the market) and overall market trends
Place Determine methods to get the message out to target groups (e.g., direct contact by salespeople) Identify appropriate distribution channels to attract buyers

Consider the fourth P, place, as the tools you will use to market your services. Such tools include high-quality business cards (which you should distribute at every opportunity), email account (usually through your brokerage), website (your own website or a personalized page on your brokerage’s website), and direct mail (either addressed, non-name addressed, or unaddressed).

Finally, and most importantly, make certain your advertising complies the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, and RECO guidelines.



McCarthy, E.J. (1960). Basic marketing, a managerial approach. Homewood, Ill: Richard D. Irwin, Inc.

Ontario Real Estate Association and Acronamic Learning Systems Inc. (2014). Real estate as a professional career. Don Mills, ON: MediaLinx Printing Group.

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