Services marketing: how to make your offer unique

In the article, you will find out what means about services marketing and what are the main differences from marketing products. Understanding these peculiarities will make it much easier to make your unique marketing strategy pertinent to the sale of services.

types of services marketingStarting from a definition, we can say that the marketing of services is the promotion of economic activities offered by a company to its customers.

Simply put, service marketing is a subcategory of marketing, focused on selling anything but a physical product.

All services are included, from personal services such as medical care and spa treatments to catering, space and vehicle rental, to travel, concerts, and courses.

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Main features of services marketing

Therefore a service does not have any material element in the performance that the customer receives. So service marketing was “discovered” as a new field of study because some services needed different strategies than product marketing. Below I indicate the main characteristics to define the marketing of services:

  • The intangibility
  • The heterogeneity
  • The inseparability between production and consumption
  • The perishability.

The intangibility

The first feature that differentiates services from products is intangibility. Intangibility is about being unable to see, touch and use the service you have purchased. And right here where was born the biggest challenge for those who commercialize services: being able to attribute tangible characteristics to an intangible offer.

greatest challenge for servicesIntangibility often creates several problems for those who market services. For example, it can be difficult to price services or be able to effectively communicate what is being promoted. Furthermore, a product can be tested, while a service cannot.

Today, with online delivery, almost all e-commerce sites allow the customer to return the product in case of second thoughts.

The customer therefore has the opportunity to see the purchased product and in some cases also to test it. If the customer had to change his mind, he can then return it and get the money back.

In service marketing what you provide cannot be tested in the same way as a product, but you can still attribute tangible and immediate value to your service.

Solutions

When we decide to buy something we rely on the advice we have received from people we trust. To compensate for the problems it creates, intangibility has exploited the potential of reviews and word of mouth. It has been proven that a well-reviewed service increases user trust and encourages them to buy.

So try to entice your customers to leave feedback or a comment, perhaps in exchange for a small discount. Could you also provide one freemium version of the service or a trial version?

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The heterogeneity

For almost all the goods we consume, a number of products identical to ours are produced. If I buy a shirt from a large clothing chain, I am aware that it is produced in stock and therefore there are many others identical to mine.

As far as services are concerned, this logic is not valid, because each offering is unique and cannot be exactly repeated. In this perspective, heterogeneity makes it difficult to standardize the quality of its services.

satisfied customer in a restaurantFor example, it could happen that you dine in a restaurant and feel completely satisfied with the dinner and the service received.

If I decide to go back the following week, the experience would be different, because there are many factors involved. When we are satisfied with the service received, we refer to many factors, such as the quality of the food, the friendliness of the staff, the welcome of the place, etc.

Solutions

We have said that the service cannot be standardized, i.e. it is impossible to provide an identical service as there are many elements that intervene. You will though create a tailor-made offer for the customer, or perfectly adhere to his requests.

The inseparability between production and consumption

In service marketing, the times of production and consumption do not coincide they do not occur within the same period of time. Another element of inseparability refers to the inseparability between the service and the service provider.

For example, if I purchase a plumber’s emergency service, the production and consumption of the service occur simultaneously, making it impossible to produce and store a service before consumption.

The concept of inseparability does not mean that the same service will be delivered to each customer, but that the same quality standards will be applied to each service. No two identical people work within the same restaurant, yet every customer can be treated with the same metric of respect.

production and consumption

Solutions

As anticipated in the example, a solution for the inseparability between production and consumption concerns the training of contact personnel. I can expect all of my employees to relate to customers with the same metrics of respect. Or that the service delivery method always takes place according to the same dynamics.

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The perishability

Perishability refers to the fact that the services cannot be stored, saved, returned, or resold once they have been used. Once rendered to a customer, the service is fully consumed and cannot be delivered to another customer.

Using the previous example if I purchase an emergency service from a plumber and I am not satisfied with the service received, I cannot return the service or even claim to get my money back. At most, I’ll be able to change plumbers.

Solutions

To overcome the perishability you can develop a flexible pricing system or insert the clause in my offer”satisfied or refunded”. 

The relationship with the customer

The relationship with the customer is a key factor when it comes to service marketing. Since the product is intangible, a large part of the customer’s purchasing decision will depend on the degree of trust in the seller.

The service provider should then listen to customer needs, satisfy them through the appropriate service offering and build a long-lasting relationship that will lead to repeat sales and positive word of mouth. Given today’s highly competitive landscape, retaining customers is even more important and more cost-effective than attracting new ones.

Because services are generated and consumed at the same time involve the customer in the service delivery process taking your requirements into consideration feedback. Service marketing offers possibilities for customization based on the needs of customers, potentially offering greater satisfaction and enabling increased customer loyalty.

relationship with the customer

Building customer-based relationships is also important for the growing homogeneity of offers. 

To cite the previous example, if your restaurant looks unkempt and dirty it will ensure that the customer never comes back. Something as simple as cleaning is a good way to build customer trust. Being friendly, professional and listening to the customer’s needs will help ensure that they return and thus make them repeat customers.

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