The Best Approach to Services Marketing
Did you know that the service sector is a key driver of the Canadian economy? Information technology, management services, or financial and insurance services, all of which account for three of Canada’s fastest growing exports. In fact, according to John Greenwood of Maclean’s, some of Canada’s fastest growing exports are in the services sector – a sector which is often overlooked. While goods and commodities usually form the footing of Canada’s economy, real-time information on the impact of the service sector is challenging to manage and account for. As Greenwood coins it, the services sector is Canada’s secret economic playground, with technological advancements making it possible for Canadian service companies to experience significant growth by marketing and selling their services in global markets, and making top dollar too.
So, what exactly is a service? MarketingTeacher.com provides a great example:
“A service is the action of doing something for someone or something. It is largely intangible (i.e. not material). You cannot touch it. You cannot see it. You cannot taste it. You cannot hear it. You cannot feel it.”
The act of services marketing is selling experiences, not tangible products. This is the major difference between a company that produces goods versus a service provider. Goods are tangible, physical items, such as clothing, food, or office supplies which often have a set price to produce, package and ship. Services, on the other hand, is the action of performing work (or a service) for others, and can vary greatly in pricing depending the scope, requirements and perceived value of the service. A great example of services marketing is the tourism industry, such as Travel Alberta’s “Remember to Breath” campaign.
The category of service marketing is quite broad, and not all services are the same. Some having higher-value, and thus, have higher economic potential. Consider financial services, management consulting, medical services, engineering services, infrastructure, environmental services, mining services, water-management services as well as IT services, all of which Canadian companies are exporting worldwide. Every organization which provides and sells some kind of service uses service marketing strategies to sell their services to consumers (B2C) as well as to other businesses (B2B) both in Canada as well as globally.
While our experience is diverse, a lot of what we do here at William Joseph is focused on marketing services on both a local, national, and international scale. Given the extensive number of providers for any given service, differentiating your business and service offerings is critical, and there are best approaches to services marketing when it comes to standing out from the crowd.
Marketing a service can presents challenges which do not exist when marketing goods. Goods are tangible; however, services are not, leaving marketing strategists to have to communicate the benefits and unique differentiators of a service by drawing parallels with images, thoughts, and ideas that are more tangible. Another point is that consumers are more hesitant when purchasing services than goods, as goods can often be returned or exchanged. Experiences or services, on the other hand, cannot be returned once they are provided. Services are fluid and time-bound, never remaining the same in that they are both produced and consumed at the same time.
Strategic services marketing allows marketers to overcome the challenges of services marketing and narrow our focus to create more concentrated marketing tactics based on analytics. Research and insight is essential before embarking on any campaign as it can help your organization identify where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and what it will take to get you there, in addition to giving insight into your target audience, competition, industry trends, and so on. People will be at the pinnacle of your business’ success or failure, especially when it comes to selling services or experiences. Customer experiences with your service will need to be tailored to your target audience needs, wants, and expectations. Thorough research will help you determine the right marketing mix for your service, and better position your company for success.
Insight will also make it possible to determine your company’s “why.” Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you do what you do? This is your “why,” and is the very essence of your business’ brand and its story. To be successful, determining your business’ “why” is essential in creating a compelling campaign, and is an vital component to understanding how to effectively market your organization’s services.
After compiling, reviewing and understanding both internal and external insight into your organization, you can begin to develop a sound strategy grounded in research and based on your goals, brand, and key messaging. Service marketers must communicate the unique value of their services with immediacy, and without tangible goods, must do so visually through a compelling logo and brand. A sound strategy will result in a targeted approach, achievable milestones, and on-the-mark creative and tactics to support your strategy. To thrive, you must differentiate yourself, and to succeed in a competitive environment, you must understand how to do so.