If you are promoting a professional service as a marketer, you have to know what makes a service different from a product. Find out some of the essential features of services and types of marketing used in the service sector.
Service marketing is the concept of promoting services that are intangible, where the customer does not own it but uses it because it has some value. Today’s blog covers the nature of professional services and how companies use service marketing.
Table of Content
- What is service marketing?
- What makes a service?
- Service marketing triangle
- Types of marketing in service industries
What is Service Marketing?
But how is a service different from a product? Let’s find out.
What Makes a Service?
Let’s see how the Father of Modern Marketing refers to services
“A service is any act or performance one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product.”
- Philip Kotler et al., Marketing Management
Here are some of the main characteristics of services.
Unlike tangible products, a service cannot be seen or felt before purchase. In short, services are intangible.
For instance, you buy a hotel ticket and are told that you will have the most comfortable stay. Here, aspects such as location, quality of food, elevator, upholstery, linen, or similar are only indicators of service. You have to stay there to actually feel comfortable in real-time.
Services are variable in the sense that no two customers will receive the same service equally. Taking the same analogy from above, one member of the staff may not be able to address a concern as their colleague. There are external factors such as employee training, the mental state of the employee, and so on.
A product, if not sold, can be stored for future distribution and selling. But services cannot be stored to be used in the future. Services last until there is a steady demand that a business is able to provide.
As a customer, you consume a service for a dedicated time period. You do not own the service. But when it comes to a product, you own it forever once you purchase it.
Just as you cannot own service, it is also inseparable from the producer. That means, you will have to be at the producer’s location or the producer has to come to you to enjoy the service.
Service Marketing Triangle
In the service marketing triangle, there are service providers (companies), employees of the company and consumers.
All of these three elements interact with each other. Let’s explore how.
Service Provider to Customer
Here, the business focuses on offering customers the reason why they should take the service. This is achieved through using various types of digital marketing means.
Service Provider to System
The service provider has to reach out to the customer through dedicated channels. Let’s say, if the company wants to grow site visibility on search engines, it has to use a content management system such as WordPress.
Now, this is just one system. Other ones can be about invoicing, customer support, or other necessary technology for connecting with customers.
Customer to System
As mentioned above, there is a relationship between the company’s technology and the systems/technologies it uses. Now, the customer-to-system aspect covers how customers interact with the technologies used by the company. This is a crucial element of interaction that determines whether the customer is able to use the technologies conveniently.
Employees to System
Service marketing is not just about the convenience for the customer. Employees of the service provider too should be able to use such technologies. They must be trained to use them. They should leverage such technologies to help customers more.
Service Provider to Employees
The company here is also responsible for training employees on how to achieve the goals related to service marketing. They should be motivated enough through strategy and leadership best practices.
Employees to Customers
Once the employees are fully trained with organisational principles and technologies, the next vital relationship to take care of is between the employee and the customer. It is all about offering better customer service.
Types of Marketing in Service Industries
Now that you know the six relationships, there are three broad groups to know in service marketing. Kotler describes them as the three main types of marketing present in all service sectors.
Here, the goal is to help the customer with any query they may have. This is done through various means of personalised content that meets the interests of their target audience.
Email marketing is one example, where the business would automate further messages once the customer or prospect would show interest or respond to a CTA. There are various email marketing tools for that.
Check out free email marketing courses!
But, now, as AI and ML have almost eclipsed task-based marketing activities, they have shown better and faster ways to target audiences. The audiences also unintentionally prefer personalised interactions, be it - awareness or post-purchase support, way more than before ChatGPT or SGE. With advanced data profiling techniques, involving the audiences in a dialogue across the channels they prefer hanging out is easier. Techniques such as questionnaires and surveys work wonders in saving time, especially, when it comes to create a healthy two-way conversation between the audience and business.
This area of service marketing is about nurturing the relationship between the business and the employees. Here, an equal amount of training and motivation is essential. You can explore more about this aspect on our blog on holistic marketing.
This area includes the elements of the marketing mix. Some even refer to it as the service marketing mix where pricing, place of distribution, and the other P’s are taken care of.
So let’s recap. You got to know what is a service and how it is different from a product through its characteristics. Then the blog covered the service marketing triangle and types.
All in all, you can say that in service marketing, customer experience and matching up to service quality are extremely important.
If you are to enter the services industry as a marketing professional, have a look at Services Marketing: Integrating People, Technology, Strategy on NPTEL or Services Marketing: Concepts & Applications on edX.
Apart from these valuable courses, you can also check the free digital marketing courses.
What are the main types of services?
Conventionally, there are three main types of services. Business, social, and personal services. Banking, transportation, etc., fall under business services, NGOs are one example of social services, while restaurants or the like, come under personal services.
What are the main categories of services?
Services have four common categories. They are intangible, inseparable, variable, and perishable.
Is marketing services harder than marketing products?
Yes. Services are intangible, so their response of the customer through the marketing funnel is slower as compared to products.