P as in People
In the previous articles, we talked about the service marketing mix and how it is different from the product marketing mix. While the framework introduced by Jerome McCarthy included 4Ps the framework in service marketing is usually 7Ps. The 3 additional Ps include people, processes, and physical evidence. In this article, I am going to elaborate more on the People element of the service marketing mix and provide you with some practical steps to manage this aspect.
Importance of Integration
IMC, integrated marketing communications, is a must for all businesses and brands today. A brand has different touchpoints with its audience. Social media accounts, website, print materials, advertising, decoration, so on and so forth, all communicate something to people. To be truly understood, you need to communicate an integrated message. This is IMC, however, in future articles, I will write more on this topic. In services one of the most important, maybe THE MOST IMPORTANT, touchpoints you have with your audience is your service staff. For a service to be done, your customer needs to interact with your service staff. As a touchpoint, you need to communicate a message that is integrated with other touchpoints.
How do people communicate?
When you communicate a message to your audience using a billboard, there are some elements that transfer the message. The location the billboard is set up, the color used in the billboard, the pictures, the message is written, the font used, all these communicate a message. How does a person as a touchpoint communicate something about your brand to your customers? The way they are dressed, their posture and gesture, their tone of voice, the choice of words they use in their conversations, their personality, the way they smell, the way they walk, all these communicate something about them and, if they are part of a team, something about the brand as well.
How to make sure IMC is implemented through people?
As far as service staff is concerned, there are two very important steps that need to be followed. The first one is the hiring of the right people and the second one is educating them. Let me be honest with you, the first step is far more important than the second step. The importance is so much higher than you need to put in 80 to 90 percent of your efforts in hiring and looking for the right people. Because some parts of the communication relate to people’s backgrounds, the culture they have been exposed to, the way they see the world, and many other things. No matter how much effort you put into it, it is hard, almost impossible, to change some of these things. So make sure you select the right people to be part of your service staff right off the bat.
How to select right people?
You may be thinking, how can I make sure I am hiring the right people? The answer is simple. Develop your brand persona. How would your brand look like if it was a person? How would your brand dress? What would be its tone of voice? What words it would choose to talk to people? All these help you to draw a better picture of your brand persona. One of the tactics that will help you when defining your brand persona, is to think of real-life examples. For example think of celebrities, who most resembles your brand? Is your brand more of a Brad Pitt or Al Pacino?
After you have clearly defined your brand persona, print it out on a piece of paper, and always carry it with yourself to the interview sessions. Send it out to your Human Resources department and ask them to pay special attention to it. Is the person you are interviewing similar to your brand persona? This tactic will help you a lot to gather a team of like-minded people who are aligned with your brand persona and help you have an IMC with your brand.
To Sum Up
As a service marketer, you need to pay attention to your service staff because they are an important part of your brand. You need to hire the right people who resemble your brand persona and educate them correctly.