New Zealand is a service economy. Services are becoming increasingly potent especially because of our focus on serving rather than manufacturing goods. Unfortunately for marketers, marketing services is not as straightforward as marketing products.
This is because services are intangible. Products are physical in the sense that consumers can see the product and then deduct from its appearance and description whether they want to complete the purchase. Services on the other hand, are intangible even though they have tangible outcomes.
The best chance service companies have is to focus on their benefits, tangible outcomes and company differentiation.
Benefits of the Service
Similar to product marketing, when trying to sell a service one needs to look beyond the service itself. While you may believe you are in the hairdressing industry, to the consumer you are in the social and self esteem industry. While you may believe you are in the building industry, one again to the consumer you are in the safety, comfort and aesthetics industry.
Take for example this company that sells and installs heat pumps in Hamilton. They do not manufacture heat pumps, rather they sell and install them. It is easy to see the marketing challenge that arises- if the company puts too much focus on just the heat pumps, consumers will be more sold on the brand rather than the service. Goldstar Heat Pumps solved this by targetting communications to both the product and the service provided.
In this sense, services may have the marketing upper hand. It is often easy to spot the benefits provided after deducing them from the final result. What is more difficult is trying to change your mindset from a closed service focus to a concept and benefits focus.
When analysing service benefits, it is easier to target your marketing promotions. This is because benefits often relate to tangible outcomes. While businesses may prefer to showcase their employees working hard laying bricks or cleaning cars, consumers are often more interested in seeing the tangible result. Take for example this Waikato renovations company Roger Ramsey Building. They are displaying the houses built rather than the tradies labouring away.
This is another time where the service sector has the marketing upper hand. When marketing products, companies must put a lot of effort into fostering brand loyalty. But at the end of the day, most consumers accept that an apple is an apple. Whereas with services, companies can zone in on what makes their company unique. Because of the human aspect, services can differ greatly between companies. This allows companies to have a strong selling point on what makes them unique.
Marketing services is evidently no small feat. Marketers shouldn’t try market services the same way they would market a product. At the same time, there are some tricks which can be transferred.