4 Sales Tips to Get Better at Services Marketing
If you want to get better at services marketing, you have to understand how it’s different from marketing a normal product.
If you’re not familiar with it, services marketing is all about taking the popular wisdom of product marketing and shifting it toward experience and long-term relationships. With a service, there is no clean break between owner and user — your company will always be responsible for the product you’re selling. There’s no warranty end date, no updated model to send out.
You and your customers are stuck together, and your marketing needs to sell that relationship, not the product.
1. Never stop talking about customization
The primary strength of a service is that it can be tailored to the customer’s exact needs, which isn’t true of many products.
When you buy a car, you can choose a few options, certainly: moon roof, four-wheel drive, heated seats, etc. You might even get a choice between a V6 or a V8 engine. But at the end of the day, the car is the car, and you can’t bring it in the week after you buy it and ask for more cup holders.
One of the primary pillars of your services marketing strategy needs to be customization. You need to shout to the rooftops how granular your service is. If it can be customized for the number of users, platforms, operating systems, or special security concerns, don’t keep that to yourself.
If you’re marketing SaaS, can the UI be tailored to the client’s needs? Talk to the engineers and salespeople at your organization and make a list of every single component that can be customized for the client.
Keep this list close to you during any client communication, and let them know.
2. Long-term support
One of the main benefits of a service is that your client knows that, whenever they have trouble, they can go right to you for help.
They shouldn’t have to deal with third-party fixes; they shouldn’t be scouring forums to find answers to their problems. As a services marketer, it’s your job to create a story of ease and frustration-free support for your service.
Your story should be one of the main pillars of your advertising efforts, and the message the potential buyer should be getting is this: you are not alone. We are here to walk you through this, to field your questions, and even to provide the necessary education to get the most out of your service.
75% of consumers have self-reported that they have felt loyalty to a brand before. Nothing builds loyalty quite like always being there for someone.
3. Build a personality
Because a service involves long-term contact with the client (instead of the general one-and-done nature of selling a product), your marketing team needs to build a personality that clients want to engage with.
If you’re funny, be funny; it worked for Dollar Shave Club. If your clients are looking for ease and luxury, your branding and sales vocabulary should be classy. And this personality can’t just be in your ads: your communication through email, social media, and on the phone or in-person should echo this personality.
Your customers will stick with your service longer if they’re having a good time and if the service reflects and augments their own self-image.
4. Try the “7Ps” of services marketing
No conversation about services marketing is complete without at least mentioning the “7Ps.” In fact, this advice is so ubiquitous, we’ll just do a quick once-over.
In 1981, Bernard Booms and Mary Bitner — frequently referred to as “Booms and Bitner” — created the “marketing mix model” and the 7Ps. And while the 7Ps can work in many marketing contexts, they’re almost always brought up in any conversation about services marketing.
The trick to using the 7Ps to improve your services marketing is to ask yourself the following questions and incorporate each answer into your marketing strategy:
- Product. What are you selling? What problem does your product solve for the consumer? For the record, we’d change this part to “service,” but “the six Ps and one S” don’t have the same ring to it.
- Price. What does your service cost and is the value worth the price? You don’t have to be the lowest-priced option, but you need to be able to justify the price tag (because customers will ask). Lastly, remember that the price of a service is likely recurring: how will those payments look to your ideal client?
- Place. Place is about distribution channels — how are your potential goods (e.g., your service) getting to the customer? Many services have a physical component (equipment): how are you getting this equipment to your client in a convenient way? This will also limit the reach of your marketing, especially if your distribution is local.
- People. Who is your ideal customer? Your platonic ideal of a client? In essence, what problem do they have in their life, and how can spending money on your service make their problem go away? Once you have this model person or organization in mind, it’s time to start figuring out how to find them.
- Promotion. How are you going to reach your ideal client? Do their demographics put them on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat? Do they have a preferred TV show or movie genre? Do they listen to podcasts or the radio? You need to find the channels your future clients frequent, and you need to bombard them with solutions.
- Physical evidence. One of the trickier elements of services marketing is that there is rarely evidence of your service, no model product to taste and touch and hear. That doesn’t mean you can ignore this particular “P.” Instead of trying to put the round peg of your service in the product’s square hole, remember that services usually happen in an environment. You need to sell a more pleasant environment. For office software, use your marketing to paint a picture of a cleaner desk, a warmer workplace, and more time to socialize with co-workers.
- Process. Unlike a normal product, a service doesn’t end (in theory). Your client is going to be privy to the glitches, design missteps, and feature walk backs that would only be seen by a product company’s design and testing team. Instead of trying to cover this up in your marketing, make it a positive. Share the idea that you’re working together with your clients; you’re taking their feedback and folding it into future design choices. Make them a part of the team.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a solid starting place for your services marketing strategy.
Services marketing boils down to experience
A service isn’t a product, and we shouldn’t treat them the same.
Your main marketing concern should be the experience: why would someone want to partner up with your service, and how does it make them feel better? How does your service augment, improve, or transform their lifestyle?
What lifestyle does your ideal client want, and why is your service the only way to get it?
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