Services Marketing Alchemy: Making the Intangible, Tangible
What is Services Marketing?
One of the most fascinating and interesting challenges in marketing is to promote services. Unlike a product which is specific, touchable, and not edible, services are intangible and subjective.
Let’s understand subjective as the fact that every client has different expectations according to their needs or previous experiences. With that in mind, here is the definition of Services Marketing:
The first thing you need to consider to build a successful marketing plan are the characteristics that differentiate services from products:
- Intangible: Services do not have a physical existence. You cannot touch, smell, taste, see or hear a service. That is why is so important for marketers to be able to attach tangible attributes to an otherwise intangible offering.
- Inseparable: Services are generated and consumed at the same time. You cannot separate the services from the person or machine who provide that service.
- Perishable: Once the service occurred it cannot be repeated in exactly the same way, and it cannot be stored for later use.
- Variability: The quality of services depends on who provides them, as well as when, where and how.
Once we understand those characteristics we can talk about the specials considerations when you build your services marketing plan. You will need to go a couple of steps further than the basic 4 P´s, analyzed from the services perspective, and take them to 7 P´s instead:
- Product as a Service: As we just described above. In this case, the “product” is intangible, heterogeneous and perishable. Moreover, its production and consumption are inseparable. So, it is very important to consider customer particularities in one hand and a way to “standardize” the services you want and can provide to others.
- Pricing: Pricing of services is more difficult than that of goods. In case of services, there are intangible values such as knowledge, experience, etc., that need to be factored in. And you also need to add an adequate profit margin to be a profitable business.
- Place: Since service delivery cannot be stored or transported, the location of the service product assumes great importance. Dou you need to go to your customer’s place in order to deliver your services? Or they need to come to you to receive them? These things are extremely important to take into consideration in your services marketing plan.
- Promotion: This is vital in differentiating a service offering in the mind of the consumer. Your company brand, from logo and color selection to the appearance of your offices and your staff, become crucial at this point and needs to be carefully analyzed.
Now there are these three new elements that are unique to the marketing of services:
- People: People are the defining factor in a Service Delivery Process since a service is inseparable from the person providing it. Customer service training for staff has become a top priority for many organizations today because it is a signature of the quality which that organization wants to deliver.
- Process: The process of service delivery is crucial since it ensures that the same standard of services is repeatedly delivered to the customers. It is especially important for those companies which do not provide tailored services.
- Physical Evidence: This makes tangible what is intangible. For instance, materials that can be delivered as output for consumers.
These last points are the most important ones in Services Marketing! Here are some recommendations that you can consider in order to achieve this objective:
- Use Customer Reviews: A good way to allow a potential customer to “take a sample” of the services you offer. Let him or she know about the experience of other customers that are already using your services. Don´t forget that people buy from people and that is more meaningful in the services business.
- ROI analysis: Whenever possible, an excellent way to make tangible the benefits of a service is to show customers the Return On Investment they make.
- Use of performance measurement tools: These are a perfect complement for service delivery because they give customers a peace of mind. They can see the advantages and benefits of their purchase.
- Service Level Agreement: This is another useful tool that can help you get “physical evidences” of your services and reassure that the customer’s expectations are met.
Services are a complex and fascinating business. People are the key to being successful in it, and marketing them is a very exciting journey. Here at Br8kthroo we are passionate about that journey. Together we can help you enjoy your ride. To know more about Services Marketing just reach us here.
Author: Melbeg Exposito
Melbeg Exposito is one of Br8kthroo’s collaborator for copy write material and the Marketing Director for Organización Repro. Formerly she was the Channel Campaign Manager for Oracle Venezuela and the Integrated Marketing Communications Manager for IBM Venezuela. She is the recipient of the Publicity National Asociation (Anda in spanish) award. Melbeg has a Social Communications Bachelor’s Degree from Universidad Católica Andres Bello and a Master’s Degree in Marketing from Universidad Simón Bolivar.