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What's Different About Marketing Services?
(Compared to Marketing Products)

Marketing Mix Strategies

Marketing services is different than marketing products. Marketing mix strategies for selling managed services are focused on solutions. Use advertising, marketing, online tactics and other strategies to develop an effective program.

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Marketing services is not the same as marketing products; service marketing is often referred to as 'extended marketing' because services require an extension to regular marketing strategies.

When marketing products, the 4 Ps of Marketing Mix need to be specifically focused on product, promotion, price, and place.

Marketing Services

When you market services, the 7 Ps of Marketing Mix are specifically focused on service, promotion, price, place, packaging or physical evidence, people and positioning (I'd argue that product positioning should be the 5th P of marketing (products) and I have included product positioning, product life-cycle, and product differentiation information on this site to specifically address a product focus).

Marketing Mix Strategies

I won't discuss the 4 Ps of Marketing Mix on this page (those elements are referenced on other pages in this site; click on the links above for specific and related information). I will simply extend that discussion to focus on services here.

Some examples of services that need service marketing strategies are: medical services, legal services, online services, dental services, human resources services, consulting services, business services, automotive services, web site services, and so on.

Selling managed services is another example of a service-type business (e.g. software management services).

Selling services is quite different than selling products: the first is an intangible and often emotional experience, the second has specific, tangible and identifiable features and benefits.

Marketing services is challenging because of the intangible nature of the service. But, because of that intangible nature, you have a lot more latitude in developing the right marketing mix strategies package; you can create your own 'best-fit' marketing model without the constraint of a physical product by using service marketing tools!

Use advertising, marketing, online, differentiation, and other tactics that clearly communication the benefits, and the solution, your service provides.

Marketing Services

The Additional 3 Ps of Marketing Mix (4 + 3 = 7):

  1. Packaging or Physical Evidence: When you are developing your service marketing mix, you need to consider how you can 'package the service' (think of phone services: not the tangible phone but the service bundles you can buy: text messaging, long distance; caller ID, daytime minutes, non-peak calling times, shared services, student services, business services, etc.).

    For a small service business that can translate into bundling services: for example, a law firm can bundle services to incorporate a business, to draft a shareholder's or partner's agreement, and more into a 3-year start up package. And market and sell that package.

    From the physical evidence perspective, recognize that while your customers won't walk away with a product in hand, the services they buy will, and should provide evidence of the value.

    • So, if you're marketing a car repair service, your customer will see the work done and drive the car away. They need to be satisfied.
    • If you're providing dental services, your customer will want to have a relatively pain-free experience and one where the result will last.
    • If you're a business consultant, you will want to have your client have a take-away: revised business plan, new marketing plan, new human resources structure, something that they can look back at and feel the cost/benefit relationship was good and worthwhile.

    You will need to use the physical evidence and the packaging of your service as references and benefits for your marketing plan: therefore you need to provide good experiences for your customer (from the time they first contact you, to the time they pay the bill).

  2. Process: How are the services best 'consumed' or used? Again, in the phone services example: can you add/delete services online, or in person, or on the phone itself? Is the process easy or do you need to wait 10 minutes to talk to a customer service representative? In the legal services example above, can the client talk directly with the lawyer easily or does the client have to talk to an assistant? Is the lawyer handling the work in a timely manner? Are deadlines made with lots of time to spare?

    The marketing strategies for marketing services need to focus on building effective and efficient service delivery processes and procedures so that the customers are not only satisfied with the service, but delighted with it and return. Focus on building good customer service, customer loyalty, and referrals, with the excellence of your process.

  3. People: People are a critical element of the service marketing mix. Your front office staff, your shipper/receiver, your accounts payable/receivable, your sales staff; all of the people you employ will have an impact on the overall service you can provide. And that is true whether you have a business with one employee (yourself) or with hundreds. Recruiting employees (the right people), with a strong service attitude, is a critical part of running a service business.

    When you run a service business, especially if you have few employees, regularly assess how your customers view the service you provide. (This can be done through interviews, surveys, questionnaires with your invoice, emails, and so on.) The reason that this becomes even more important when you have few employees is that often you are too busy to pay attention to how your customer assesses your service performance.

    By surveying your customers, you may find that you could grow your business by hiring more staff or by outsourcing some work or by hiring part-time contractors. Make sure you understand clearly the effect your people (or lack of them) can have on your business success.

Fit the advertising, marketing, online, differentiation, positioning solutions and tactics to the problem or challenge.

Marketing services is the same, yet different, from marketing products.

Use the 7 Ps of marketing mix (service, price, promotion, place, packaging/physical evidence, process and people) to be successful at your service marketing strategies.

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Additional Reading:

Understand Competition Analysis and how to manage your competitive tactics.

Conduct an Industry Analysis to learn more about your marketplace.

Build strong Market Strategies to win more market share.

Why is correct Product Positioning a necessity to your Marketing Plan?

Return from Marketing Services to the Importance and Definition of Marketing.

How to Define Marketing Mix?

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Marketing and Life–Cycle

Marketing is a requirement for all businesses: without marketing strategies and tactics your business will struggle to survive.

Not all marketing activities are planned: you might be building your brand recognition through a social media campaign (that's marketing); you might be conducting market research to analyze your competitors and/or segment and target your potential market or to develop the most desirable features, advantages and benefits of your products or services (that's all marketing).

Marketing is pretty all–encompassing; and a challenge for many business owners. The additional challenge is recognizing that the different stages of your business life–cycle: start–up, mid–cycle, mature or late–in–life.

During start–up you need to develop your marketing strategies to grow sales; for example, you might want to use a market penetration pricing strategy to build sales quickly.

During mid–cycle, you need to grow your customer base (often through lead generation) and that need requires different marketing strategies, such as cold calling on prospective clients, email marketing, newsletter and blog sign ups and distribution (all to grow your list of prospects).

During the mature cycle, you need to build your marketing efforts around your brand; your competitive advantage can be in your reputation, history, and identity and on what differentiates your business from your competitors.

Marketing your products and services is not something that you do once (such as a marketing plan) and then never change or do again. You need to be continually researching and building your strategies and tactics to be ahead of the market, and ahead of your competition.

The market is constantly evolving; ever more rapidly with the impacts of globalization and technology. You need to invest resources into marketing to ensure that you build and sustain your business.

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