Service marketing is different. Get helpful tips and strategies to succeed in service marketing in 2023.
Over the past few years, we have seen a massive growth of service startups. We are not just talking about traditional high-tech SaaS models. There are many healthcare and transportation startups, such as Grab and Airlift.
These are companies that provide a platform, but also rely heavily on the quality of service they provide. They need to build a very compelling brand story to do that.
What is marketing of services?
Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing. Services marketing emerged as a separate field of study in the early 1980s when it was recognized that the uniqueness of services required different strategies than the marketing of physical goods.
Unlike products, services are bought based on the perceived value they can provide. From the buyer’s perspective, it is not the level of skill itself that matters, but the end result those skills provide.
For example, online advertising campaigns can be optimized manually by experts or by technical means. As long as the results of both are the same, the service will say “online advertising optimization.”
Service marketing, defined as value, means that you need to gain a high level of trust with your audience so that they feel comfortable enough to sign a contract and believe that you have the skills needed to deliver the promised value.
Service marketing generally refers to business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) services, including the marketing of services such as:
- Telecommunications service
- Financial services
- All types of hospitality
- entertainment service
- car rental
- medical services
- Professional services and shopping services
In addition, the provision of a service often involves a higher level of human interaction than the one-time transaction of buying a product (especially online).
This is not entirely accurate, of course, since services are included in every transaction, but when discussing services as products, interactions and workflows are more visible and considered part of the customer’s expected value.
Strategies and methods of service marketing
The argument that services require a different digital marketing strategy is based on the understanding that services are fundamentally different from products and that services marketing requires a different model for understanding services marketing to customers.
The obvious difference between product marketing and service marketing is that products are tangible and services are intangible. As we’ve said before, with service, you’re selling an experience.
The unique definition of service marketing presents five key strategies to consider when planning his or her service marketing efforts:
As mentioned above, trust is one of the main components of service marketing. When marketing a product, the main selling point is the product itself. People can see and even feel the product, read its legal warranty, learn about its features, or request a demonstration. When you market your services, all you have are… words. The best way to gain credibility is to use what others say about you.
Customer testimonials are the best way to gain credibility, and in the case of service marketing, the more the better. Try to attract customers similar to your target audience, known as your customers. People tend to trust and sympathize with those who are like them.
Rewards and badges
Awards or service endorsement badges can also help. There are many websites that have achieved high levels of trust and brand recognition that can validate your product, depending on your industry. For example, the marketing industry is best known for Google and Facebook affiliate badges (respectively).
While what your service sells is the desired end result, the process elements that lead you to it are certainly part of your value proposition. Service process characteristics such as flexibility, responsiveness and convenience are sometimes so important that they can be used as key marketing differentiators.
Generally, providing the final result of a service takes longer than the average product sale and requires more interaction with people. Your customers want to know how your services are progressing, not just wait for the final results.
Establishing clear lines of communication with customers is key. This is one of the best service marketing strategies you can use early on. You can do this with a simple email/phone update or with specific software tools and solutions.
You should also use social media platforms and email marketing to provide great service to your customers every step of the way in their buying journey.
Services are inherently customizable. The challenge is to know how to customize enough to keep customers happy while maintaining service boundaries and structure. Essentially, there is a limit to how much you can “bend your back” for a customer, but they will expect some flexibility when marketing your services. Your service limits can be based on:
You promise to deliver while maintaining professional standards – even dog walkers have limits. Dogs, they can manage everything at once.
You can afford to change prices according to your client’s budget/expectations while maintaining a positive income.
Required or realistic pace of work. When it comes to deadlines, clients always expect services to be delivered as quickly as possible (meaning now), and it’s up to you to decide how quickly that can actually be accomplished. Even if you decide to work faster, your custom deadline should be achievable.
So define your process, communicate often, clarify expectations and goals, and get to work. This is one of the best service marketing strategies you can use.
Speaking of clarifying expectations, this is the last aspect of a successful service marketing strategy.
The role of service marketing is to determine the value of what you offer. However, the end result of a service can be ambiguous because we are dealing with intangible products.
To avoid disappointment, the desired outcomes must be defined and agreed upon. However, when promoting your services, remember that the work process itself has all the value. The process must be included in your definition of value.
In fact, many times during the value definition process, you will learn something new from the client experience and may decide to change the goals of the project. In such cases, it’s important to have a meeting to discuss the new goals and how the change might affect processes, expectations and scope of work.
Presenting your services as a solution to their problems is the best way to generate an emotional response and get your key audience to sit up and take notice.
Highlighting key steps in the service process as milestones is a way to communicate the value of the work process beyond the end result.
Any good service marketing strategy should include a clearly defined value that you will provide to your customers.