Developing and executing a marketing plan that factors in the 7 P’s is a must—especially in complex markets.
No matter what industry you find yourself in, a marketing strategy with a strong marketing mix can help better target customers in complex markets.
One of the biggest challenges in service marketing is that your services don’t have a fixed existence. They essentially “disappear” as soon as your work is completed.
As a result, your marketing team might need to work a little harder to develop a marketing mix that works for you.
This is where the 7 P’s of marketing come in.
The key elements of a marketing mix originally began as the 4 P’s of marketing, but have grown substantially since. And we’d even venture to say there is now an eighth P of service marketing, which we’ll touch on below.
But before we get to extra P, let’s start with one of the most important P’s— number 1.
From a service marketing perspective, it’s ultra important to think of your “product” not as a tangible item you’re offering to your audience, but as the “thing” your customer needs.
As explained in this Feedough article, “a product is something which satisfies the needs and wants of the customer.” Furthermore, a product mix consists of all the services available in a given market.
For example, a full-service digital marketing agency may offer content creation, persona development, and competitive analysis as part of its product mix. And like any tangible product, a service can (and should) be personalized to suit your client’s needs and maximize satisfaction.
When determining a product mix, it can be helpful to think of the “whys” and “hows” of a service in different levels. This is similar to understanding a product in the 4 P’s of marketing, although with services, we’re dealing with five levels instead of three;
- Core Benefit – The fundamental purpose your service serves; like in the 3 levels of a product, the core is what value, benefit, and need fuels your service.
- Generic – A version of your service that accomplishes the minimum requirements necessary.
- Expected – Standard characteristics of service that buyers expect of your service.
- Augmented – Additional features or benefits that make your service stand apart from your competition.
- Potential – The possible changes and augmentations your service could gain in the future to continue to wow customers.
Unlike with product marketing, your physical location can often be easily separated from the services you offer.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider your location wisely. Having a location that is easily accessible to your target audience is important if you offer a service that will require them to come in to see you.
Even when you’re providing services to enterprise-level clients, this can be a factor. For example, a client of ours who services global brands, struggled post sales. The reason? Their customers wanted service teams who were local—or at least regional—to them so they could get same day service and support on site.
Deciding on the right price to charge your clients is another important part of your service marketing mix. Pricing services can be a bit more challenging than pricing products since it can be more difficult to calculate your overhead, labor costs, and how much your customers are willing to invest.
For example, if your organization offers safety training services to other businesses, how do you put a price on the knowledge imparted by your instructors? It’s not as easy as putting a price on, say, a training software package.
When deciding on pricing for a service, it can be helpful to employ one of the following pricing strategies:
- Competition pricing (focusing on beating out competitor prices)
- Penetration pricing (starting with a low price)
- Skimming pricing (starting at a high price)
You know and understand the unique selling proposition (USP) of your company’s services to your target audience, but how will you go about communicating this to your prospective clients?
This is where the promotion mix comes into play. Deciding on the specific strategies and mediums you’ll use to communicate your company’s USP is an important part of your service marketing strategy.
This is especially crucial for those offering services that are more-or-less the same between businesses (such as business insurance). Having a promotion strategy that makes your company stand out will help you attract more customers and really set yourself apart.
Some strategies and mediums to consider here include:
- Social media outreach
- Digital advertising
- Public relations
- Direct marketing
When deciding on your promotional mix, there are some statistics worth keeping in mind. For example, did you know that 70% of today’s consumers “would rather learn about a company through articles over a traditional advertisement?” Taking this into consideration, it may make more sense to focus on organic marketing, such as blog posts and social media content over traditional advertising.
Of course, each industry is different, so consider what will be best for your business based on the current industry landscape.
One of the best “secret weapons” when it comes to gaining your clients’ trust and loyalty is that of your employees.
Choosing the right employees to carry out your company’s goals and vision, as well as providing them with the right training, is a must.
While it may be possible to more-or-less separate products from the people who provide them, the same simply cannot be said of a service. The people out there doing the actual work are functioning as representatives of your company, so leaving a good impression is key to satisfaction and returning service.
6. Physical Evidence
While the services you offer may not be tangible, there should be some tangible “physical evidence” that create a more personal touch for your customers while they’re receiving a service from your business.
For example, a business offering accounting services to other businesses may strive to create a welcoming office environment with ambient lighting, free coffee and snacks for clients, and cheerful music.
The decisions you make when it comes to your physical evidence mix can have a huge impact on your overall client experience and could be the difference between retaining a client and losing out to a competitor.
When you deliver a service, your employees likely follow a very specific process from start to finish. This might include communicating your arrival time prior to the scheduled service date. Or, it might be following up with a client for feedback a certain number of days after the service has been performed.
Think of the process mix as a blueprint of sorts that ensures all your employees are delivering the same consistent service to each client. Like developing a digital marketing strategy— each step must be executed at the right time in the right phase of the buyer’s journey or the whole strategy can fail.
With each service your business provides, you should have a dedicated service blueprint that employees can follow. This helps to make sure they’re delivering the service efficiently and with the best quality possible.
The 8th: Productivity
Marketing mixes often end with just 7 P’s. We, however, think that a newer 8th P is just as important to consider.
That P is productivity.
How well are the services offered by your company actually competing in today’s marketplace?
This measurement is known as your productivity or performance mix, and it refers directly to how you’re doing compared to the competition (as well as whether or not you’re achieving your financial goals).
When looking at your productivity mix, it can also be helpful to consider how (or if) the services you’re offering are actually a good deal for your target client.
For example, you might be confident that your business offers the absolute best marketing services in the area. Based on this perception, you may be drastically over-charging—and losing business.
Why? Your clients aren’t savvy enough to tell the difference between you and your competitors.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, marketing strategies for services are very different from marketing strategies for products. The lack of a tangible product makes it important to focus your energy and efforts on those vital 7 P’s.
Make sure you’re communicating the value of your services to your clients. Creating specific processes and “blueprints” for each service offered. Focusing on these aspects of service marketing can go a long way in a competitive industry.
If you’re still in the planning phases of your marketing strategy and interested in learning more about the pieces that make up your marketing mix, check out our take on the 4 P’s of Marketing and how they’ve evolved for a digital age.
If you’ve got a solid handle on the P’s you might consider pushing beyond those and trying your hand at disruptive marketing.
Finally, check out our case study on how we helped a green energy startup drive a 7x increase in sales, or just reach out to us directly via our chat to talk about your challenges.