We tend to think of marketing as just that … a presentation of features, benefits and calls to action. However, while both services marketing and product market integrate these elements, there are some crucial differences. For example, at a grocery store, an immediate need can lead to an immediate sale. But services are mysterious and are rarely purchased based on an emotional impulse. Below we’ve outlined three key challenges and solutions to help you discover greater success in services marketing.
- Challenge #1: Value tangibility. People who sell products know that a good customer experience sells. It’s why car dealerships take customers on test drives and ice cream stores offer taster spoons. There are a number of ways that potential customers can develop an emotional desire for physical objects before making the decision to buy. Services are just the opposite, it’s difficult for prospects to emotionally connect with the service until they’ve purchased it.
- Solution #1: Provide a taste of what’s to come. Some marketers are afraid of “giving away” their expertise. They fear that competitors will duplicate their practices or if customers sample services for free, they won’t come back to pay for the full meal deal. Our experience is just the opposite. If customers taste a small bite of amazing expertise, they usually will come back for more. If they don’t, they probably weren’t the ideal customer in the first place. What about the competitors? Let them try to copy you. If you’re truly differentiated, they will fail.
- Challenge #2: Relationship facilitation. Today’s services buyers are Internet savvy. They search for information online and seek to empower themselves with information before reaching out to companies with potential solutions. Their interactions are often fleeting as there are a large range of other choices are just a few keystrokes away. Therefore, services marketing requires a new kind of relationship building strategy – one that keeps prospects coming back, even after they’ve explored other options.
- Solution #2: Give and get. GIVE them information to download – we’re talking about white papers, case studies, guides, checklists and self-assessment tools. But make sure you GET their contact information first so you can facilitate ongoing follow up. Your goal is move prospects from the top of buying funnel to the bottom of the buying funnel. You can do that by starting with broad information and gradually providing more detailed information in subsequent contacts. For example, prospects may initially want a white paper on Five Essential Elements of Services Marketing, but eventually, they may need a checklist on how to select the best services marketing provider.
- Challenge #3: Longer sales cycle with more stakeholders. Generally, services have a much longer sales cycle than products. In addition, there are more stakeholders involved. Because of these nuances, clear, sharable printed and online information is crucial. You can’t rely on a sales conversation to make the pitch because the person pitched will need to have the buying decision approved by three other people who don’t have time to come to the presentation. A sale can get torpedoed very quickly by someone with whom you haven’t had an opportunity to build rapport.
- Solution #3: Sharable information. Sales sheets, checklists and written confirmation of all the compelling details are essential for services marketing. Case studies are particularly helpful. The question on everyone’s mind is “Does it really work?” Case studies convincingly answer that question.
How content can address all three services marketing challenges.
As you reviewed the challenges and solutions above, you probably noticed one thing they all share in common: The need for clear communication. We’re not talking old school “feet on the street,” – most industries can’t cost-effectively compete that way anymore. We’re talking about written communication to support and augment sales conversations. We’re talking about words to warm the anonymous prospects up and move them through the sales funnel, when sales professionals can’t. Great content can handle these services marketing objectives – creating value tangibility, relationship facilitation and sharable information.
Looking for more information? Visit our Insurance Marketing page for additional insights.