What is service marketing?
The new millennium witnessed an increase in new business models. While 20th Century was all about manufacturing and physical products, in the 21st century lots of new profitable businesses emerged that are not based on physical products. Education, tourism, medical care, software development, graphic design, and many other businesses are instances of service businesses. Like any other business, they need to be marketed to their target audience to be successful. This has led to the advent of a new field in the marketing arena, referred to as Service Marketing. Service marketers need to develop marketing plans for their brand and outline their marketing strategies and tactics. While most people believe that service marketing and product marketing are the same, there are some differences that need to be taken into account.
What are the major differences between service marketing and product marketing?
Services are different from physical products in some of the following ways. They are perishable, they are intangible, they are variable and they are co-operative. These four differences between service marketing and product marketing are explained below.
Services are Perishable
It is highly probable that you are using some of the products that you bought more than 5 years ago. You made a purchase and the product still lives with you. You see the brand every day and it is in your mind. However, this is not the case with services. You go to a hairstylist, purchase a service and it does not stay with you for a long time. What are the implications of this for service marketers? It means that you as a service marketer need to rely more on CRM and reminder advertising in your marketing plan. Your customers may forget you easily and need to be constantly reminded that you exist.
Services are Intangible
You are reading this article on your mobile phone, or tablet or laptop or some other physical product. You can feel and touch the product. A great portion of your judgment regarding the quality of the product is based on the quality of the physical material. This is not the case in services. Customers cannot touch and feel your service and it makes it very difficult both for them and for you. Your customers will judge the quality of your service based on some abstract ideas and it will be very dangerous for you. To address this issue you need to tangibilize your service. You can do this by offering something tangible such as your brochure, your office chair or some other physical evidence. Try to design your office in such a way that it truly reflects your brand positioning and meaning.
Services are Variable
Your service will be offered to your customers through some sales staff. They are people and people are not always in the same mood. Some days they perform better than the other days. This will lead to variability in the quality of your service. You need to pay extra attention to your service staff and make sure the right people are hired for the job. You also need to have frequent briefing sessions with your service staff.
Services are Cooperative
Your customers and your service staff need to have close cooperation. In order to get your medical treatment, you need to be present at a certain time at the doctor’s office, follow your doctor’s instructions and might need to visit him several times. You need to explain clearly how the cooperation will help them better achieve their goals and how it will affect them. Again a good CRM system comes in handy at this stage.
To Sum Up
Service marketing is different from product marketing in that services themselves are different in nature from physical products. They are variable, intangible, perishable and cooperative.