We all know what product marketing is – marketing for products, obviously. But when it comes to services, “what is service marketing?” seems to have a much more elusive answer than just – marketing for services. So, what is it?
What is service marketing? A definition
Our service marketing definition hinges on the nature and characteristics of services. To reference some theory, services are intangible, heterogeneous, perishable, and have a simultaneity to their production and consumption.
To break all that down, let’s look at some examples.
- Hairdressers. Services don’t have a physical form in the way products do. They can’t be stored, saved or recycled once they’ve been used. You can’t just return a haircut! In the same way, a haircut is given at the same time you receive it – separating a service from the service provider is often close to impossible. And in terms of heterogeneity – do you have a favourite hairdresser? All services vary slightly, there’s no level of quality control that products are held to.
- Accountants. Social media for accountants involves promoting the quality of their service – accurately and efficiently interpreting your financial records. You might be the best accountant in the world, but your potential clients can’t pre-emptively weigh up your service the way they can a product. Being able to convey the effectiveness of your service is key to generating new clientele.
- Conveyancers. It’s all in the experience. A house transaction might seem pretty homogenous – it’s all in following the regulations, right? But your conveyancing service can vary greatly depending on how your conveyancer works with you. In-person, digitally, speaking directly to a person, or automated through a system. Our client, Edmonds Conveyancing, employs a completely personalised approach that works directly with clients to fulfil their individual needs. A completely digitised and depersonalised service will also settle your transaction, but would be a completely different experience, also requiring a completely different strategy.
Therefore, to provide a simple answer to the question, service marketing is the creation of a marketing strategy that compels customers to see the value in a service provider – often by building trust and anticipating needs.
Let’s talk strategy
As we’ve already started to hint, the differences between products and services don’t just stop at their value proposition. The service marketing mix further extends on your usual 4Ps, to include 7ps.
The 7Ps of service marketing are as follows:
- Product. This is your service and value proposition to customers; how will you capture their needs and wants?
- Price. The balancing act between charging a premium price to up the perceived value of your service, or scaring away potential customers. It’s a tricky one, but oh so crucial.
- Place. Where will customers find your service? For service marketing, this element is increasingly less tangible, with the rise of online services with no bricks-and-mortar location.
- Promotion. Who, what, when, where and how are you promoting your service?
And the extra 3Ps unique to the service marketing mix:
- People. When there’s an inability to separate the service from the provider, you’re selling yourself as much as you’re selling your service.
- Process. From the enquiry to post-service or appeal, your process should be streamlined and as efficient as possible for your consumer.
- Physical. In an industry of intangibles, this is perhaps one of the most important marketing mix elements. Whether it’s your logo, packaging, receipts, business cards, social media presence – creating a personality for your service is crucial. It lets your customers know you’re real.
What is service marketing, really?
So, what is service marketing? It’s a combination of all of these characteristics, and involves a thoughtful, creative approach to making your service shine.
A customer’s experience with your service should be more than just transactional. A service is more than just a process, it’s also the people behind it. And we think the secret ingredient to a successful service marketing strategy is authenticity. Genuineness, in a provider, their service, and in their marketing strategy. It gets us every time.
To find out more about service marketing and how you can build trust through authenticity for your business, please do send us a buzz. We’d love to hear from you.