Services marketing is the process of marketing things that is essentially intangible in nature. It involves doing things to something or someone. Services cannot be touched or seen, therefore, services marketing has its own series of challenges to the marketing managers. This is because in order to convince people to pay for a given service, a marketing manager needs to create images in their minds in order to make them think that they need the particular service.
This task is far more difficult than selling a physical product that can be seen, touched or tasted. A services marketer must always remember the fact the services he/she are trying to promote are intangible, inseparable, perishable, homogeneous and variable.
Services Marketing Overview
Something that is intangible does not a have a real physical presence. For example, if you take a life insurance policy, you will be given a certificate but you cannot touch the financial service. This creates a challenge when it comes to finding the value of given service prior to using it. This is why it is always more challenging to sell a service than a good. The value of a good can easily be known prior to consumption.
Unlike goods which can easily be separated from their providers, you cannot separate a service from the service provider. Also, you cannot take the service away from a point where it is being consumed. For example, you cannot take a movie from a cinema hall and go home with it. If you want to watch a movie, you have to stay in the cinema hall and watch it. Services are consumed at the same time as they are being produced. This makes it possible for a consumer to complain instantly if he/she does not receive quality services. You cannot ask for quality improvement when buying a good. Therefore, services marketers that want to succeed have no choice but to ensure the services they are selling are of the highest quality. Otherwise, consumers will demand for better quality.
Once a service has been provided, you cannot have the service given again in exactly the same way. Something will be different when the marketer provides a service again. For example, if a barber shaves your hair, he cannot shave another person the same way he shaved you at the exact time. The shaving style can be the same, but the time will be different. Another good example is a seat cannot be sold once the flight has taken off.
Homogeneity refers to the fact that services are largely the same. Consumers will always expect the same level of quality every time they come for the services you are offering. They don’t expect to find a huge deviation from what they got the last time when they sought your services.
The P’s of Service Marketing
Product: The product is heterogeneous, intangible and perishable. The product can be customized for each individual customer.
Pricing: It is tougher to come up price for services than for goods.
Promotion: Promotion of a service is crucial to capture the mind of consumers. Service providers have to invest heavily in advertisement.
People: People play an important part in service marketing since it is impossible to separate the person providing a service from the service.
Process: The process of service delivery is crucial since it helps to ensure that the same standard of service is delivered to the customers repeatedly.
Physical evidence: Since services are intangible in nature, service marketers usually incorporate physical things to make their customers have a unique experience. E.g. some businesses invest heavily in interior design to make their customers have a unique experience.
For effective services marketing, marketers have to keep all these characteristics of services in mind. Services marketing is considered to be successful only after consumers accept and trust the services being offered.