For many business owners, theirs is a service based business. Yet the marketing theory tends to focus on product-based businesses – the ability of consumers to taste, touch, see, smell a product. Services can be quite the reverse. If you deliver intangible services such as those by law firms, marketing consultants, management consultants, education providers and much more, then more than likely, you are almost selling the invisible.
Give your services the ‘product’ factor
So how do you give your services the ‘product’ factor? How can you make your customers truly see, smell, taste and touch your service?
The answer lies in your approach to services and using good marketing techniques.
There are four characteristics that separate services marketing from product marketing. They include:
If we examine them in turn, each will enable you to add the five senses to your marketing.
# 1. Intangibility
What this characteristic tells us is that once a service has been performed; there is nothing to take home. In essence, services aren’t physical so they can’t be owned. As services can’t be seen or touched, then assessing their value can be quite difficult.
But there is a way around this. Here are a few thoughts to add the tangibility factor to your service business.
How to add the tangibility to your service:
- Ask for Reviews – Reviews or testimonials give great social proof to the ability of your services. It shows that a. other people have used your service and b. their problem was solved by using your services. There is nothing quite like a testimonial to add substance to your offering. Encourage reviews and ask for testimonials from your clients.
Give Actions – If you provide education or training, make sure that all students have a format whereby they can take action on your learnings. Through implementing what you taught or explained to them, they get a sense of achievement. This leads to a feeling of accomplishment and when someone accomplishes something, they feel good about themselves. They start to see that anything is possible. So you’re adding feelings and sight to your intangible service.
# 2. Inconsistency
What this characteristic informs is that everyone is different. While you may get the same product every time you buy it, chances are that it tastes the same, looks the same or feels the same. It’s not quite the same with services. Every employee is not the same as the next person. And even though you may get the same great person all the time, there is a 1% chance that they may not be great.
It’s human nature; most services’ businesses are people-based and personal performance can vary by workload, the time of day and just life in general.
How to be more consistent when delivering your service:
- Look out for signs of tiredness – Don’t wait for complaints. If you see an employee is tired, then step in. This is particularly relevant in a restaurant, hotel or service based business.
- Customer care training – It is essential to do regularly and not just at the induction of an employee. Make sure that all staff are trained on the lifetime value of a customer and to meet and exceed expectations. Do refresher courses every month or quarter.Undertake mystery shopper assessments so that weaknesses can be identified and improved upon.
# 3. Inseparability
This characteristic explains that it is impossible to distinguish between the service and the server. The production of the service can’t be separated from its consumption. A good example is a hair dresser. You can’t really separate the hair dresser from the cut/colour/blowdry. Similarly with a lecture, you can’t separate the lecture from the lecturer.
How to help separate your service from the server:
- Use copywriting – Describe in as much emotional detail what your customer will get or how they will benefit from using your service. That way, the benefit of using your service becomes the primary motivator. Highlight the individuality of each employee, and what they bring to the service. This again emphasizes the benefit of or the result of using your service.
# 4. Inventory
This characteristic explains the last difference between products and services; that services can not be stored. Unlike warehouses full of products, service providers can’t store services for future uses.
How to have stock to meet the demand of your service:
- Be strict with your time – Learn to say no. If you trade hours or seats or haircuts or medical appointments, then you need to learn the fine art of saying no. If you’re under-pressure, then by not saying no, you lend yourself to being inconsistent (over worked and over stretched), thus leading to giving a bad experience.
- Monitor demand – When demand fluctuates, it can be a real challenge to keep your standards up. As a service provider, you can’t order more of what you provide. Monitor demand fluctuations in your business, perhaps, they are seasonal, so take on staff or outsource as necessary.
By applying the four ‘I’s to your service business and deciding to substantiate your business, you are doing more than selling the invisible. You are offering your intangible services to clients who can now fully understand the benefit of using your service and will be queuing at the door to use you.